My daughter will be home for the Christmas holidays tomorrow. She left for college in September and this is her first trip back home. I'm sitting here trying to get perspective and face my fears at the same time.
The truth is I am not my mother and my daughter is not me. God help me remember that.
Maybe I need to write some of the differences.
When I left home I was so glad to be as far away from my folks as I could get. My mother had been very controlling - one of my friends likes to joke about the mother's disease of wanting a slice of our kids' brains. My mother wanted the whole thing. The worst is that I thought she had it too. It took awhile but I loved the freedom of my mother not knowing what I was doing unless I told her. I flew 2000 miles away from her just to make sure she couldn't find out about my life unless I told her. I left home determined not to become my mother. In the first month of college I took my first drink and started following in her footsteps.
My daughter is a good 8 hour drive away from us but she left in freedom. She phoned home once and told me how all her classmates were talking about how great it was to be in a setting where they were free to be themselves. She told me that she couldn't identify with them because she had been free to be herself at home and wasn't that the way it was supposed to be? You were free to be yourself with your family first?
I left home with all our family secrets riding around in my head. They had a free ride and I didn't know what to do with them. My mother had actually told me one day point blank "what you hear in this house stays in this house." At 18 I was still scared what would happen if I ever told anyone. It took 7 years for my secrets to come pouring out. Seven years is a long time.
My daughter phoned home one day and said she was supposed to share her journey in her spiritual formation class. She said she knew that even though there were parts of her story that show me in a negative light she knew she had permission to own her story and that I expected her to. She thanked me for that gift.
To this day I have never spoken face to face with my mother about the abuse that happened to me as a child and how it shaped me. I want to tell her I am proof that redemption is possible but I know she wouldn't believe it. Her guilt and shame is too huge.
My daughter and I have spoken openly about the abuse she suffered as a child at my hands. She has no memory of the early stuff but she knows that when it surfaces that I will talk to her face to face and own it. I have spoken often of the choice to have no secrets in our house no matter how hard it has been to face reality some days. We both know what redemption is.
I am not my mother, my daughter is not me. Thank God for redemption.