Learning to Forgive

iStock_000001398323Small

When feelings are hurt and emotions run high, it’s often hard to forgive – or ask for forgiveness. Often we don’t even pause to reflect on how our actions affect one another or take the time to formally apologize. But during Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday last week, we reflected on our wrongdoings over the past year, asked for forgiveness and began a new year committed to being better mothers and daughters. This week we talk about that experience:

Ellen…

Jenna has hurt me over the years more with her words than actions – a sarcastic comment, a criticism, a snub or even the silent treatment.  While these sting at first, the pain goes away quickly and most of the time, I silently and almost subconsciously forgive her.  I am not one to retaliate or hold grudges.  It’s easy to forgive Jenna because I love her and our relationship is everlasting.  I know that there will be times that we fight or get on each other’s nerves, but we will get past those dips and find the good in each other and our relationship again.

Because I have become more confident in Jenna’s love and respect, I will occasionally tell her when she’s hurt me and this helps.  If I can express my feelings and better yet – if she says she’s sorry – all in the world is good again. This wasn’t always the case: During Jenna’s teenage years, I didn’t feel that I could point out times when she hurt me because I wanted to avoid conflict that might push us apart even more. I harbored my motherly pain in silence. In retrospect, I probably should have pointed things out more so that she could learn to be more sensitive.

I’ve always been quick to ask Jenna for forgiveness if I feel I’ve done or said something hurtful, even when she was little.  I don’t let my ego get in the way of saying “I’m sorry.”  And now, being an introspective adult, Jenna often realizes when she’s done something hurtful and will apologize.

Last week, as Yom Kippur drew to a close, I looked into Jenna’s eyes and asked for blanket forgiveness for anything I might have done or said over the past year that was detrimental.  She gave me such a loving smile and we hugged.  Then she asked me for the same.  It was really quite beautiful.

Jenna…

When I reflect back on the biggest fights my mom and I have had over the years, I think they were most painful because we let our own emotions get the best of us. Rather than listening to the other person’s feelings, validating their emotions and potentially apologizing, we would feel personally attacked and fight back with harsher words. This pattern only caused more anger and hurt, ultimately taking us further away from a place were we could calm down and apologize for any pain that we caused each other.

But lucky for us, one of these major fights has not happened in a really long time. We have both spent a lot of time trying to understand each other’s perspectives and how to better respond to avoid hurt feelings. I have been trying to be more open and honest about how I’m feeling to avoid taking out my stress or bad moods on my mom; my mom has been trying to be a better listener and not interpret my comments as personal attacks.

Still, we are not perfect and we do still hurt each other from time to time. For example, when my mom has more time on her hands, she tends to flood my e-mail inbox with interesting articles, new ideas, random questions, and to-do lists. While all these messages are sent out of love, I get frustrated when I am busy and don’t have time to read them. One day I was very stressed and already a bit frustrated by my mom’s inundation of e-mails when she simply called to say hello; I quickly snapped at her and asked that she give me more space. I could immediately hear the sadness in her voice and recognized that I was way out of line.

A few years ago, I would have just let the conversation end and allow time to pass before our next conversation to cool off. This time, I immediately called her back profusely apologizing: I felt awful that I had taken out my stress on my mom. It felt really good to ask for forgiveness rather than letting the incident go. When I was younger, I definitely had more ego and always wanted to be right. But now when I stray from being the daughter (or person) I want to be, I am much more willing to admit when I’m wrong and actually say the words “I’m sorry.”

It’s exciting to see growth within myself and my relationship with my mom. This Yom Kippur was different because, while we both acknowledged our wrongdoings to each other, we also recognized how far we have come since last year. Regardless, I’m sure there are times where we hurt each other without even knowing it, which makes blanket forgiveness even more special. It doesn’t really matter if I was right or wrong in the moment – I appreciate this holiday for giving me the opportunity to ask for forgiveness and make sure my mom knows that I never have the intention of hurting her.

 

Shhh! Keeping Secrets

  Mothers and daughters occasionally discuss intimate things. In the early years, it’s typically the daughter asking the mother to keep a secret and later, when both mothers and daughters are adults, it can go both ways. This week we discuss how keeping secrets have impacted our mother-daughter relationship. Ellen… I’m sure that there are plenty of things Jenna hasn’t shared with … [Continue reading...]

Meet Meriém and Marél

Meriem and Marel

Meet Meriém, Meral's mom. She is from Italy and Spain and has that very open Mediterranean social spirit. Her hobbies (pottery & gardening) are followed with great passion and discussed in great detail during the preparation of our meals (large & wonderful home-cooked meals!). Upon meeting our Dutch father, while he was visiting Italy, she says she laughed so much about his poor Italian … [Continue reading...]

Shhh! Keeping Secrets

shhhh

Some mothers and daughters often share intimate things while others keep their secrets to themselves. In the early years, daughters often confide in their mothers and later, when both mothers and daughters are adults, it can go both ways.  This week we discuss the importance of trust and keeping secrets: Ellen… I’m sure that there are plenty of things Jenna hasn’t shared with me, because we all … [Continue reading...]

Home Habits

iStock_000018181171Small

Our moms raise us at home, but then we eventually go out into the world and create our own households, deciding which things we want to replicate and others which we want to change. This week, we talk about the home habits of our upbringing and the home(s) we’ve created or want to create for ourselves.  Ellen… I was brought up in an apartment for most of my childhood but when I was in junior … [Continue reading...]

Meet Laura and Mindy

A

Meet Laura, Mindy's mom. My mom is an extremely caring, patient, beautiful, loving woman. She has not had it easy with struggles and loss along the way, yet has shown strength and commitment to her family through it all. She enjoys gardening with my dad, cooking delicious meals and freezing enough to last for years ;) and has a great talent for re-purposing and remaking items from old material, … [Continue reading...]

Parallel Spiritual Paths

Freedom woman on sunset sky

While we don’t advocate any particular religion or practice, we have experienced firsthand how spirituality can bring meaning to our lives. This week we talk about how we’ve independently tapped into our spiritual tendencies and have influenced each other along the way. Ellen… “Spiritual journey” - it's a cliché, but I don't know a better way to describe my quest over the past two years. … [Continue reading...]

Body Language and Mixed Signals

iStock_000027020605Small

Combine the topic of body language with mothers and daughters and it conjures up all sorts of visions filled with emotion: the sulking teenager, the finger-pointing mother, the full-of-love bear hug. This week we discuss how we interpret each other's body language and how it impacts our relationship. Ellen… Last week when Jenna and I skyped, I could tell from her expression and her voice … [Continue reading...]

Little Things

???????????????????????????????

No deep thoughts, ruminations or philosophies here.  This week we’re talking little things – little whimsical things about each other that we love, that annoy us, that delight us.  Enjoy! Ellen… 1.  When I see little ringlets escape from Jenna’s hair piled high on her head, it reminds me of her blond curls when she was a child. 2.  I describe Jenna’s feet as “meaty.”  For a slender woman, … [Continue reading...]

Meet Chris and Liz

Chris and Liz

Meet Chris, Liz's mom. My mom is the BEST! Not only did she raise 4 awesome kids (4th one being the best, cough cough), but now plays a huge role in raising 4 awesome granddaughters. She takes care of our entire family, her parents, AND her siblings. My mom is the most reliable, loving, caring woman I know. And to top it off she is in incredible shape, looks way younger than her age, and dresses … [Continue reading...]