I have been told my whole life how I look like my mother. Eyes, skin tone, face shape. At one time, I hated hearing that. Now, at 37, I embrace it. With that in mind, I have been known to say this-
“The best thing God let’s us do is grow up and see our parents as people.”
This quote is no less applicable to the relationships between mother and daughters. I am blessed because my mother is still living, still active, still telling me my potential is great so I need to maximize it. I would be a dishonest daughter not to admit it is only in the last few years our relationship has improved–she has her issues with what I do, but she makes a point to let me know she loves me. Sometimes, that is all I need.
In reflecting on my relationship with my own daughters, I realize why she rode me like she did. Why she was distant at points and silent when I thought she should be screaming. Being a mother, becoming a mother, does not automatically make you a saint or whole. Mothers are some of the most stressed people on the planet. Not only do you have to manage the life or lives of people whom trust you will make everything better, you, yourself , have to make everything better. You have to–and it is that six letter phrase which may devour you.
I realize now, almost 20 years past 18, that my mother did as best she could. In doing the best she could, she gave me the chance to live. What do I mean? This means I was allowed to grow up and learn from what she did, or didn’t do. I could critique, versus being critical. I believe our mothers, as being the daughter’s of our mothers, they see pitfalls, and tragedies possibly echoed in the lives of their daughters. Things they encountered before our lives began which haunt them–and they never want to happen to us. In that overprotection, they become hyper vigilant, overly critical or distant in or about these areas.
For my mother and I, the biggest battles we have ever had were around what I wanted to do with my life–and how I wanted to live. I wasn’t a rebellious kid in that sense, I just didn’t like her always being critical of me. And that kept us apart—however, in growing up, I have learned this one thing, the best part:
My mother is a person. She has her own issues, hang-ups and trauma. I realize she may never tell me the extent of her trauma, but I know she loves me–and always will. There have been times where I have hated her, never wanted her to be my mother, and even wished her dead because I didn’t understand why she never thought what I did was good enough. Then, I became a mother.
In being a mother, you have the unique responsibility of superhero. You are expected to be powerful and tender in order to do all of other people, at the cost of your own self. I am grateful my mother didn’t give up on me, cast me away and let me die in the haze of early adulthood. The best part for me, was realizing my mother was a person–would remain a person–after I left her home. What I thank her for is the ability to endure, and in that endurance, strength to keep going.
I am grateful the relationship with my mother has improved, that she, now too, sees me as a person, not just her daughter. I am now responsible for my life and actions. I am not ensconced by the opinions of other people, even my mother. I am responsible for the life I lead, the mother I become. It profits me nothing to blame her for what I believe she didn’t do, should have done, and never do. It is my job now to love her…and be confident she loves me. I realize I wasn’t the best kid, and she loved me anyway.
Although, I went kicking and screaming, she held on to me, speaking to my potential through her love for me. For that, I am eternally grateful.
It took the mother I had, to make me the woman I am.
I love you, Mama.
[Image from author’s social media account]