When I grow up, I want to be the Me version of my Mom.
That’s a pretty bold statement for me to make, considering for years while I was a hormone-ridden teenager, I would never have told you I wanted much to do with my mother. While our love and commitment was deep (her commitment was oh-so-beautifully-deep) our LIKE for each other waxed and waned quite frequently. Like a great many other mom/daughter combos I’ve met, we are very much alike & that lead to some pretty epic battles of will.
I am a loop-hole-finder. I was born for politics, I can spin my way into just about any corner to make it look like I came out slightly ahead. I am very familiar with the feeling now that THIS, is very frustrating for a mother. On the one hand, you want your child to flourish, to be smart, to be creative and bold with her thoughts and ideas…and on the other hand you wish they would just…for once obey the rule as it was spoken.
I now believe what I did not dare think back then: my mother is an expert at this mothering business. An expert.
My parents’ main goal in life was to make my brother and I independent. Able to live fulfilling lives as functioning adults in society. They taught us early on that the successes hard-earned are those that taste the sweetest. Those are the circumstances on which a person is built. Since I was 4, I have figure skated. I could not have chosen a more expensive sport. My parents each worked full time, and never was there a question of IF I would skate, only when. And my mom never missed a single practice, a single competition, a single test day, a single carnival. She played music in the box, she volunteered on the Board, she even dragged herself out of bed on her day off to bring me to the rink at 6am for dance practices on a freezing cold & darkened rink. I bristled when she announced over the loud speakers for me to get back to work & stop leaning on the boards. I was embarrassed and humiliated and wanting to shrink away. I was also learning a lesson about accountability and thankfulness.
I was/am a chatterbox by nature. You never had to ask me if I had anything to share, I was already sharing it. Though I’m sure it was mildly annoying, my mother never once told me not to tell her…anything. I was never scared of her reaction, I never thought she would come down on me for something I told her. Certainly there were lessons to be learned, and she would always impart her wisdom (which my bitchass teenage self would ‘psha’ away with a roll of the eyes) but never in place of what I had to say. What I most of all want to borrow from my mother is her ability to keep the lines of communication with her daughter wide open- at all times. for any reason. no judgments or criticism. never a dismissal. She understands STILL that I need her and her ear. She is never too busy to listen, never too proud to dismiss my concerns.
When I grow up, I want my daughters to see our home the way I see my parents’ place: refuge, restorative, peaceful, warm, loving.
And if my mom’s love for me is trumped by anything, it is her dedication to her grandchildren. She has perfectly modified the role of “super mom” into the most astonishingly loving role of “natural nanna.” It’s like she’s been doing it her whole life long. My kids are spoiled in just the right way- she makes them tow a hard line, and she rewards them heartily for it. Ryan and I have a complete advocate in her. It makes me want to cry when she tells us how great of a job we are doing. And she does this constantly. She is ever-vigilant of not undermining our efforts, and she builds up my daughters with confidence and encouragement so large that they almost literally glow in her presence.
It is no secret to those close to us that she and I did not get along well growing up. But I can’t be more proud of the relationship that we have now. I know now that it was being built for all those years, I just didn’t see it. And I’m kind of glad I didn’t. I heard a quote about motherhood that has inspired me all these years, by Amy Roloff of Little People, Big World. She said, “One day I hope to be friends with my kids. Now is not the time.”
That is how I see my relationship with my mom. We built our relationship in such a way that now we can be friends. Now, when we share the common ground of being mothers, we can relate to each other based on the respect we have for our roles in each other’s lives. I as the daughter she tirelessly raised, she as the mother who taught me HOW to mother. Sure, there are things I do differently than her. Things I have adapted to suit my family needs. But the base model is her. It doesn’t hurt that we look so much alike, either:)
Today is my mom’s 50th birthday. She looks like she’s 40 and is often mistaken for my sister. Cheers to good genes! She is a beautiful woman, though it is her heart that is the most gorgeous. She beams with pride for her family- all of us. And well she should…we are an extension of the hard work she’s been doing all these years. We are proud to honour her, proud that she’s ours, proud that we belong to her so fiercely.
Happy Birthday, Mom.
I’d say you can’t possibly imagine how much I love you…but I bet you can.