catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 2 :: 2009.01.16 — 2009.01.30


Thanks, Mom

Retrospectively, the last few years of my life are colourfully marked with an array of living and moving experiences. I’ve lived in a university residence, in a basement apartment, on people’s couches and pull-out beds and in an intentional community in the English countryside. Now in my final semester of university, I am settled back in my parent’s house. But living with them now is very different from when I was a child. As soon as I graduate from university and secure a job, I will start paying rent. I already make payments on the car that I drive and I keep my own hours. I have fewer responsibilities around the home. Despite all these changes, I still look at my life here with a child’s mind.

When I was growing up, Mom was always very busy. Mother, shift-worker, worship leader and home-school teacher, she bustled through her daily routine. My child’s brain drew a correlation between my mother’s busyness and the cost of my existence. As a child, my mother needed to provide for me. If she was busy, it was because I was costly. It seemed that I was stacking up a very large debt with my parents, one that I would have to work hard to repay.

And so, upon returning to my parent’s home, I threw my weight into the collar of household responsibility, hoping to repay some of my debt as evidenced by a slightly less busy mother.

One afternoon found me in the basement sorting through piles of stuff that either had to be relocated, thrifted or thrown out. The guilt of my childhood debt was snapping at my heels, and I had worked myself into some kind of frenzy when Mom said, “This isn’t your house. This isn’t your mess. It’s mine.”

I sat in the floor amidst books, papers and clothing, and stared up at her in disbelief. “But Mom,” I said, “You’re so busy. You seem desperate sometimes.  I just want to help.”

“I’m not desperate,” she said. “You don’t have to do this.”

I got up, walked away from the mess, and went to my room. Michelle the 22-year-old had some patient reasoning to do with Michelle the 8-year-old. First of all, I reasoned, Mom is not busy simply because I am expensive. Mom, by nature, is an industrious and active person, and she has specific goals for her life. The reason she takes on so many things is because she wants to. And secondly, my parents offer me food and shelter out of love. They don’t loan it to me, and they do not demand repayment. There is no debt to be paid.

So, what should I do? Should I stop helping my mom so that my childish mind can catch up with the rest of me? Not necessarily. I can still help her sometimes. But this isn’t my mess. I have to go find my own mess.

I have grown up without realizing it. Being grown-up doesn’t look very different from the outside (I still live here) but it is a very different place of the heart and the mind. “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child…” When I was a child, I was compelled to serve by guilt. But now, am I not to be compelled by love?

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