Saturday, September 13, 2014

Awful vs. Awesome?

Long, long ago, when I was in a high school English class, I remember my classmates and I being mystified by "the awful Persephone".   Why was it that the beautiful woman from Greek Mythology, the one who reigned as the Queen of the Dead, was referred to as "awful Persephone"?  Hesiod seemed to think she was kind, beautiful, and good at heart.  So why "awful"?

Our teacher explained that Persephone was so amazing that she left people full of awe -- we should think of the adjective more like "awesome".  That explanation made sense to me, and it set me up for a better life-long understanding of the connection between love, reverence, and fear.

I think back to Persephone when I had two "awful Mama" conversations this summer.  Twice in the past few months, K-daughter had big announcements she wanted to share with me, and both time she was quaking about my possible reaction.  Here's part of the first quake-in-her-shoes moment.

Because I'm afraid of your reaction as to what I'm about to say, I decided to send you an email to say it. 
Yesterday, [my boyfriend] asked me how I felt about the idea of moving in with him. My immediate thought was; "Oh my God, I wouldn't even know how to ask [MiserMama]!" because I don't want to hurt your feelings or make it seem like I always want to leave home. I like to travel and find new experiences in life, and I would treat this like one of them. So, in turn of me freaking out, I asked [I-daughter] for some advice since she knows you well. She mentioned that you most likely will not have hurt feelings, but, I still worry. She also mentioned that you would ask about my plans for school, if I decide to do this.  . . . 
I'm worried to mention this to you because I'm scared you'll be mad, sad, skeptical etc. I also don't know how you feel about [my boyfriend] . . . Another thing that makes me anxious is, can I still come home for dinner and to visit and to stay the weekend if I want to? Because I know I'll miss you guys if this is what I decide to do.  
I hope you're not mad, I love and care about you and our family a lot, I'm just looking for a new adventure of life lessons I guess... And I guess I'm a bit crazy for searching. 
 Okay, now, of course I'm not even in the slightest upset, and in fact, I wasn't even all that surprised.  K-daughter is 22 years old.  She's really only lived with us for three years.

But I'm touched that my opinion matters so much to her, that she wants so much to live up to expectations that she feels I'm setting for her.  I'm so glad that I can reach out in love to this young woman who clearly wants to be loved.  And to be loved by me.

The second big announcement was that K-daughter will, sometime next spring, be a mother herself.  And in spite of all that impending motherhood means to someone still working toward finishing her college degree, the scariest part once again was telling me.  Oh, poor kid.

At one point in our conversation, full of anticipation and reassurances and joy, I got to tell my daughter this:
Someday, maybe twenty years from now, your own child will come to you and say, "Mom, I have something to tell you and I don't know how you're going to react."  And what are you going to say to your child, K-daughter?  You're going to say, "I'm your mother and I love you.  No matter what you do, that's never going to change.  I love you and I want you to be happy."  That's what you'll say to your child, and that's what I'm saying to you now.  
K-daughter is going to be an awesome mom.  

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