Understanding Your Mother Better Through Story

Understanding  Your Mother
source: Leroy

I slipped sideways through the maze of chattering women to find Lacey after the ladies’ meeting and tapped her on the shoulder, “Lacey, it’s good to see you this week. I heard the whole family was sick last week.”

“Yes,” Lacey said, “it’s good to have everyone well again. Hey, I wanted to say thank you to you for mentioning your blog Mommy’s Piggy Tales two weeks ago. After you shared about it, I called my mom who is a missionary in Kenya and asked her if she would write down some stories of her childhood for me.

“My mom had a rough childhood and she’s never been willing to talk about it. But there’s a part of me that wants to know more about her life. Unfortunately, my mom said, ‘I’m sorry, Lacey. I can’t do it. I don’t like talking about my childhood. Besides, no one wants to hear a story like mine.'”

Lacey continued, “I hung up disappointed, and expected that to be the end of it, but two days later I got an email with ten pages attached. She had written to me about her childhood, but told me I was not to ask her for any more stories or ask her to talk about it.

As I read my mom’s stories, I just cried. My mother said everything in their house was from the dumpster. She remembers eating from the garbage, and she never owned her own toothbrush until she went to college. Children her age teased her because she usually smelled due to infrequent bathing.

“The holes in their roof let the rain come in at night and she would have to find creative ways to stay dry as she slept. Fortunately, she was able to attend a church through a bus ministry and began learning about God.”

Lacey’s eyes had formed pink rings around them and both of our eyes became blurry as she said, “I finally understand my mother. I finally understand why when I give her fifty dollars for her birthday she refuses to spend it on herself, but instead spends it on the children in Kenya. I understand her passion for Kenya now, and why she will probably never leave. She sees herself in those children who wear rags and have almost nothing to call their own.”

“Wow,” I said, “I didn’t realize anyone would actually go home and call their moms when I mentioned the storytelling project. I was just mentioning what I do, but your story is incredible! I can’t believe that after thirty years of knowing your mom it wasn’t until you read her story that you feel like you can truly understand her.”

“I do,” said Lacey. “And now I want my dad to write his story. He had a rough childhood too, and he doesn’t want to do it. But my mom is working on him.”

“That’s good.” I said, “The fact that she’s encouraging him to share must mean she doesn’t regret sharing her stories and maybe even found it healing to do so.”

“Yes, I’m glad she’s at least trying to get Dad to share,” she said.

My toddler began tugging me toward the car and complaining of hunger so we said our goodbyes. As I walked away I heard her words again, “I finally understand why my mother will probably never leave Kenya.” I let the tears fall.

I had no idea the healing, connecting, understanding and beauty that can come through personal story. But now that I know, I press on with a greater passion because everyone has a story worth sharing.

Who was a mystery to you until you heard their story?

Janna Antenorcruz is the founding editor of Mommy’s Piggy Tales: Record Your Youth. Inspired by her grandmother’s stories of growing up, she created a blog where mothers can have friendly accountability and encouragement to record the memories of their youth in 12 posts. Session 3 will begin February 3rd 2011, and Dad’s are invited too!
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