Caitlin looked at her son, Jeremy, as he entered her home, and she just shook her head. She was so ashamed at the way he was dressed and he smelled of alcohol. She thought, “I never had alcohol in our home, so how could a child of mine turn into such a person?”
The other children were so successful, for the oldest girl was a district manager for her company, the youngest boy owned his own business, and the youngest girl had been on her job for nearly thirty years! So, how come she couldn’t just take pride in them and know that she had done a good job? Why must she dwell on the one who doesn’t work and is always begging from the others?
These are Caitlin’s thoughts as she looks at her children and grandchildren celebrating Christmas together. What should be a wondrous time is being ruined by her seeming inability to love this one child.
And then, the memories began, and she was taken aback on how much they effect her!
She remembered how he was always the one taking up for his sisters and little brother when they were in trouble. He would say or do something that made her laugh, distracting her, and her anger would lessen. Many a time he kept her from hitting first and regretting the violence later.
He was the first one to call after her surgery, asking if he could do anything for her. The others had said that they were too busy to come see her. But he came every day to the hospital, telling everyone who would listen as they walked around the hallways that she was the greatest mother! She would tell him to stop bragging on her, saying that he was embarrassing her, even as she smiled inside!
How could she have forgotten that his gifts were always so heartfelt, handmade and not store-bought, genuine in their beauty and the love that went into producing them. After all these years, she still had them down in the basement somewhere.
She looked up and saw him looking tentatively at her. He seemed lost, shame and guilt covered his face, as he had no gifts for her.
Something moved inside of Caitlin, and she felt compelled to reach out and pull him into a hug, ignoring the smells emanating from him and concentrating on the love she felt at that moment for him. As she hugged him, he apologized, tears flowing down his face, telling her that he would do better.
She told him words that every mother must keep saying to her children, regardless of how she wishes them to be. She said, “Sweetheart, Mama loves you! You were always the funny one. Tell us some jokes and liven up this party!” He smiled, told her he loved her, too, and started acting pure silly.
His siblings looked back to see how she was taking his foolishness, and when they saw that she was laughing and showing pride in him, they took her cue and did the same. They were glad that this Christmas wasn’t going to go down the drain due to her chastising him and comparing him with each of them.
It was the last time she allowed herself to be disappointed in him, for she realized that he needed her help, for hadn’t her mother and father been alcoholics? Wasn’t that the real reason she was ashamed, as she had been so mortified when people knew who her parents were?
Probably the greatest gift of the day was that moment that something in her heart and spirit reminded her to never compare her children with each other. Not every child turns out as parents wish, but they are all deserving of love. Yes, parents must try to help them find their way out of the darkness, but that can only happen through the light of love.
Partly fictional story for the Sunday Writing Prompt Quote from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. Utilize the quote above for inspiration,