adjectives to describe your parents

Mom in the woods

If my mother had been a frivolous woman I might have become an entirely different person from the one I am now. Some small chance adjective could have shaped my life in another way. But my mother was not frivolous and I am her resulting offspring.

You might ask what I think the word frivolous means, since language occasionally bears more baggage than it should. It seems to me that a frivolous person is one who concerns oneself with everything in life that is unnecessary and meaningless. This person is neither wise nor clever where matters of human dignity and love are concerned, is not blindly generous nor forgiving, not compassionate, and not ever happy nor full of peace. This person would be pitiable if he or she weren’t so complacent in their frivolity. But they want no part of consciousness and they should not be pitied.

So what kind of woman was my mother, being not frivolous? I’ll share one of the last memories I have of my mother that occurred when I was fifteen years old and while she was still healthy, and reveals a good deal about my character and hers. I was relating to her an event that happened at school one day wherein a friend of mine had exasperatedly complained that I should get over so-and-so boy I had thought myself in love with. He had said it after I had casually mentioned this boy to another friend and it in no way (honest) relayed my pining or misery at so-and-so’s no longer caring for me. Full of indignation and in uncharacteristic defense of myself, I looked and pointed at him and uttered fiercely: “You should keep your mouth shut because I was not talking to you.”

He did shut his mouth and he did turn away from me. My effort to shame him had worked and I felt justified in defense of myself. My mother was not so pleased.

“Why would you say something like that to a person, a friend? You shouldn’t say such mean things to people. I am not going to be on this earth for much longer and I have to teach you how to act.”

I had not expected this disapproval. I felt it was wrong of her to not want to support me in that quip of mine. I do not think I responded directly to her statement. In a few moments, I pointed out a funny bumper sticker on a nearby car. My mother was once again angered.

“What is wrong with you?? How can you basically ignore what I just said and move onto something silly like that?! Sometimes I have no idea where you came from!”

I only muttered that I did not know what was wrong with me.

It is only after years of reflection that I can for certain say why it is that this particular incident remains one of the most vivid memories of my mother. There are two reasons.

The first and most obvious is that rather than simply choose to be on my side against a friend who had hurt my feelings with a false assumption, my mother chose not to be. This is tied to the second reason: this incident perfectly exemplifies to me my non-frivolous mother in very obvious and very painful ways. My mother, no matter at what cost or hurt caused, would rather be right than kind. She was ever critical of my actions and words despite my being her daughter or (occasionally but not often) being right. And she had placed a great deal of weight upon me by not only trying furiously to carve into me her own self-criticism before her death, but also by not allowing me to be defensive without feeling guilty or unjustified.

My mother’s desire to be right was a part of her own self-assessment and low self-esteem, rather than a perverse will to belittle me or instill doubt in me. Believing herself not ever good enough in most matters, she sought to be better. Personal growth is not a bad trait in itself but it is hurtful when applied too severely and painfully subversive when turned outwards.

She had had a terminal illness since I was eight years old and her prophesying her forthcoming death was not incorrect. I had grown used to the fact that my father would long outlive my mother although I had never been able to imagine my life without her. I was not resentful towards nor angry with her after this incident. I never broke from her as most teenagers do. I remained her faithful disciple even after her death and, in some ways, even now. Although her teachings have occasionally backfired, I still feel she was right about most things. The anger and resentment only came much later when I was old enough to truly know myself and understand the way that mothers, frivolous or not, can shape their daughters’ lives.


One Response to “adjectives to describe your parents”

  1. realsupergirl Says:

    Assuming this is autobiographical, wow. So much I still don’t know about you. Wish you were closer so I could get to know you in person.

    If it is not autobiographical, it is powerfully written, beautiful prose, no less meaningful.

    Keep writing and blogging! I’m adding you to my blogroll.

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