Paige & Jared
Growing up, my brother Jared was probably closest to my mother. Not necessarily closest to her emotionally (she loved us all equally, right?) but closest in proximity. For Jared was always grounded. Always making some goofy decision. Always in trouble. And thus always by Mom's side. Perpetually her slave due to some recent malfeasance for which he got caught and then inevitably folded like a cheap tent when confronted by her laser-like interrogation. The rest of us siblings used to watch in horror from the sidelines as Jared would immediately confess to everything. Even those things Mom did not, could not, know. And we would whisper, "Jared! Shut up! Save yourself!" He never heard us.
And so throughout his most formative years, Jared found himself pulling weeds, scrubbing toilets, and vacuuming stairs. Mom was unyielding. If she grounded you, she meant it. When she said something, she stuck to it. She was nothing if not consistent, even when it would've been so much easier for her to relent, back off, and give in to our whining and complaining and begging to be released from our servitude and able to go to that dance. C'mon. Just this once. Sorrrrrry. I won't do it again. Promise. (Okay. Maybe Jared wasn't the only one of us that ever got grounded).
Sometimes we didn't like her so much. Her and her steel fortitude. Her impenetrable tough exterior of commitment. Her immunity to our various attempts to manipulate the consequences could be maddening. And we told her so. I tried the "I hate you" mantra more than once when sent to my room. She would just smile and say, "Fine. You can hate me all you want. From right there in your room." Dang it.
So we may not have liked her. But we knew she loved us. For that was the genesis of her dedication to our discipline. And we always loved her. Always.
That's what taught me Mom's life lesson #12:
Sometimes big trouble is just big love.
Stick to it.
Your kids will thank you for it.
Somehow we all survived. We all managed to get off restriction. Even Jared. And not a single day of those extra chores, those missed parties, those hours spent in our room thinking about what we did, could diminish the affection we felt for her. As full-fledged grown-ups we can now recognize the big love in our big trouble. We can fully see the genius in keeping the consequences clear and simple and close to home. For the consequences of the world are so much worse. So much more cruel. And so devoid of the love with which her homemade ones were brimming. We learned our lessons in that safe place. And it made us better when we stepped out on our own.
Proof We All Survived.
Jared and I were the only ones with her when she died. He was literally by her side, one last time, at the very end. She laid her head on his shoulder and held my hand and slipped quietly away. It was a moment full of proximity, both actual and emotional. One that I would not trade for anything. One that only accentuated for me that her dedication to those childhood consequences never pushed us away but only drew us in. Forever.
Jared and Lia on the Big Day
Recently, Jared got married. It was glorious. And it was a long time comin'. We were all there (save Erin who was a little too knocked-up to fly). As was Mom. She was there because she wouldn't have missed it. She was there because that boy who spent all those days grounded and slaving away at her side, that boy who could have had every reason to hold a grudge, held her close to his heart instead. She was there because Jared's sweet bride took a photo of Mom and created a charm that hung from his boutonniere. Literally over his heart. Evidence that trouble can turn into something beautiful.
Jared's Two Moms, close to his heart.