80: Birthday Blues

80: Birthday Blues

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

Birthday Blues

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.

~Honoré de Balzac

“I hate you! I’m not going and I don’t know why anyone else would want to go either!” The words spewed out of my mouth with such venom and rage that I knew I’d never be able to take them back.

It was another teenage temper tantrum, one that Mom had become accustomed to during my tumultuous adolescence. But this one stung a little bit more. It was September 6th—Mom’s birthday—and it should have been a time for celebration with friends and family. Rather than joining in the festivities at my grandparents’ house, I had just unleashed a verbal assault on my mom, and the words left a trail of destruction in their wake.

“Fine, stay home then,” Mom said, as she left the house to go to her birthday dinner. “You’re so selfish. You can’t even behave just this once, on my birthday.”

As the car pulled out of the driveway I began to think about the significance of my actions. I sat at the kitchen table, by myself, while the rest of my family was celebrating a pretty fantastic woman’s birthday. I wondered why I spewed such hatred toward my own mother, and I wondered how she could still love me when all I did was misbehave and create conflict.

“I need to be a better person,” I thought, as I recalled so many similar incidents that had occurred in the weeks, months and years leading up to this.

My self-reflection was interrupted as I heard a car door slam shut in the driveway. Seconds later, Mom walked into the house in tears. Despite the hurtful words I had uttered less than half an hour earlier, she came back because she wanted me to come to her birthday party.

Looking at her eyes welling up with tears, I realized how incredibly selfish I had been. Mom was right. This woman, who attended every one of my athletic events, shuttled me to friends’ houses, and bought me the latest fashions, simply wanted me to show up. That was the least I could do, but in my infinite stubbornness and teenage wisdom, I had taken Mom for granted and hurt the one person who I could always depend on.

That birthday was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

For me and Mom, it wasn’t our first conflict and it certainly wasn’t our last, but it was a turning point in our relationship. Today, as a nearly thirty-year-old woman, I make sure I spend the day with Mom on her birthday. And even though I know my presence is all she wants, I find myself taking extra time and effort to make sure I get the perfect gift. After all, my best friend deserves the best.

~Sarah McCrobie

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