Call your mother

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I heard it from everyone during my first semester of college.

"Call your mom! She misses you!" my friend Dora said at the end of a lengthy voicemail in October. I sighed, rolled my eyes and put my phone away. The phone rings both ways, I thought, so my mom can call me herself if she really wants to talk to me.

That year, I sometimes waited two months to speak with my mother. We sent text messages back and forth but rarely talked on the phone and never spoke on Skype. While I had some personal problems brewing at the time -- problems I hid from her for a very long time -- I really just wanted some space.

I didn't think this was an unreasonable request; as an only child, I sometimes felt my mother was pinning all her hopes and dreams onto me and the pressure could become unbearable. Today I know this pressure was the result of an anxiety disorder, but my mom was a pretty great scapegoat.

I had to get straight A's, because my mom didn't have another kid to get her that "My Child is an Honor Roll Student" bumper sticker. I had to at least try to stay in shape, because it sucks to be the fat kid when you're the only kid. While I don't believe my mom ever meant for me to feel this way, I couldn't help but focus on my failures rather than my successes.

I thought I would feel better if I let myself go and ignored my mom for a while. I ate way too much food and exercised way too little. I didn't study as much as I should have and I let my boyfriend and his friends tell me what I should be doing. For reasons I still can't pinpoint, I shrugged off a support system that had always been there for me in favor of a fickle, self-serving circle.

I'd like to say I came to my senses quickly, but I can't lie to you. It took nearly three years for me to start communicating with my mother again, a reconnection that started off pretty rocky. I had changed -- become a shell of myself -- and she didn't know how to talk to me without offending me.

She wasn't the same either; she had established herself better in her career and gained many friends who made her life fuller. I can't articulate how strange it was to rekindle a relationship with my mother, having thought that relationship would never require upkeep.

For several months, we treaded lightly around each other. I was graduating from college and regaining a sense of self after ending an abusive relationship, and she was trying to understand the person I had evolved into. It was awkward and confusing, especially since I thought having a relationship with my mother would be a constant in my life.

But every relationship requires upkeep, especially the most important ones. My mom and I are closer now than we've been in six years, and that's not because we let nature take its course and bring us back together. We worked for that relationship through more long talks than I can count. We're still working for that relationship.

If you and your mother are estranged and you don't know how to fix it, you'd be surprised at how easy the solution is. Just put time into the relationship. Allow yourself to forgive and to be forgiven.

And call your mother.

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Samantha Jones is a reporter for the Carroll County News. Her email address is CCNNews@cox-internet.com.