By Terin Marlae Benavente | Featured Contributor
As most of you know, Christmas this year looked a little different for everyone. My husband and I decided to take our children to visit their grandparents who live nearly an hour away for a short visit. Prepped with double masks and hand sanitizer, away we went. Once we arrived, pleasantries were exchanged and gifts were unwrapped. Shortly after, my father decides to bring me his retirement/pension paperwork to help him fill it out. Of course, the HR employee inside of me jumped up and said “of course!” while the daughter inside of me thought “Uh oh, I have left my husband all alone with his outspoken, sharp-tongued mother-in-law.” Not in the best health herself, I decided to roll with it and move forward.
An Overheard Remark
As I walk in and out of the house completing the paperwork, I mindlessly drift into a conversation between my husband and my mother. As in, when I am focused on something, I am really focused as to not become distracted. However, their conversation was on me so of course, I listened. As I stand there looking over the paperwork I hear my husband gushing over me. “Ma’am, your daughter is so talented and smart. She is a wonderful writer and one day you will be reading her books.” My mother, with her usual quick and snide remarks, said and I quote, “Oh really? And what will she write about? Most times, authors are those who have lived an extraordinary life and have something interesting to write about.” Mind you, this is my own mother. My poor husband sat there stunned. He looked over at me and asked what I planned to write about. I responded with “Well, nothing I guess. It seems as though I am rather boring to some.”
What she and many may not know is that I in fact have lived a rather difficult yet adventurous life for only having been on this Earth for thirty-five years. You see, I am a very quiet and private person. I keep to myself for many reasons but mostly due to a lack of trust in those around me. For years, my husband has known how much I love to write. He knows how big my dreams really are..to one day travel the world and become an author/editor for a largely respected publishing company. You see, he and I have spent twenty-one years together. He is in fact my best friend. On the other hand, I left my mother’s home at the young age of seventeen and never looked back. Unfortunately, she and I haven’t always had the best relationship. In her eyes, I am the black sheep of our family, having driven her crazy as a child with my strong and argumentative spirit. Despite being grown and having accomplished so much, (i.e. drama free, happily married with three wonderful kids, college-educated with a rewarding career) to this day I am still deemed as inferior or not good enough.
I can’t help but wonder: as parents, who are we to judge our children?
Who Are We to Judge?
Just because we created them does not mean we get to judge their talents, strengths, weaknesses, etc. As a daughter, I admit my mother’s comment did sting a little. However, our family runs in circles and because of this, I have grown accustomed to these kinds of comments. This is why I choose to stay away. Her mother–my grandmother–did the exact same thing when she was alive. Always blurting out the first thing that came to mind, never worrying if it came out wrong or what anyone else thought. While both she and my grandmother think/thought this made them strong, opinionated women, in reality, it is very much a character flaw.
We as human beings possess a unique ability to hold a conversation and respond rationally without the need to criticize that person to make ourselves feel better.
Often, I find myself feeling internally conflicted. Do I stay in an unhealthy relationship simply because we are connected by blood? Or is it enough to love and respect someone from a distance in order to maintain that same love and respect?
I suppose only time will tell.
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