This post is dedicated to my daughters.
A few weeks ago, my daughters and I were driving to the market to buy steaks to "throw on the grill" that evening! We were going to serve dinner to a group of 20 family and friends. A last-minute dinner... so what else is new? Our minds were racing and our mouths were going a mile a minute. Who would set the table? Who would make the salad? What kind of flowers? We were not organized for the task, but nonetheless bantered back and forth between giggles. My daughters are my loyal best friends and my only confidants, aside from my mother, husband... and Orchid!
As we drove to the market, I said, "Girls, let's just stay relaxed! You know we will pull it off. We will serve a delicious dinner on an artistically adorned dining room table." My daughters are the Yin and the Yang. One a great cook. The other is a daunting artist. And then I added, "let's simply be."
They cracked up laughing and one said, "How can I 'simply be' with a mother like you!? I watched you all my life, never simply being, but doing so many things in so many areas that I felt if I didn't emulate you there was something wrong with me!" I thought to myself, like mother, like daughter. No daughter can escape being influenced by her mother.
Sitting in the backseat of the Escalade, and feeling like Miss Daisy (I love sitting in the back seat of cars and being chauffeured), I ponder what my daughter said, wondering, "Why do daughters struggle with what I call the mother-daughter syndrome? Not wanting to be like their moms, yet hopelessly emulating them, as they mature as women, in so many ways?
My mind begins to shift through my own memories as I see my mother as a young woman, very glamorous with piercing-laughing blue eyes, a great sense of style and more learned accomplishments than most women of her generation. She could have been a CEO. She was an avid reader and never missed doing the daily crossword puzzle. She skied and was a skilled golfer. She needlepointed and knitted, knew how to throw a great party, played bridge, canasta and Mahjong. Her friendships were very important to her and she was first and foremost a wonderful wife to my father.
She was my mother and I, her only daughter. She was the first person I met! She bestowed upon me my first kiss, wiped away my first tear, taught me my values and helped me build my self-worth and tenacity to become all that I could. My mother was the definition of unconditional love. I admire my mother and respect her for her accomplishments, honesty, ability to laugh often and unwavering loyalty and love for her family. And yet for years, our relationship was a "work in progress." Why?
She was controlling. I resented her control, whether she was right or wrong. Becoming a teenager, I was searching for my own identity and there was bound to be conflict. My mother wanted my hair short. I wanted my hair long. She won. She always won. She was very critical, because she felt that was the way to raise her daughter. I wanted her approval, yet I was emerging as my own person with my own agenda. I wanted to be me! Our relationship was definitely a "work in progress."
My relationship with my mother, now 93 years old, is almost a completed book. I am so sad. I so love my mother and she adores me. If she were able, there is nothing she wouldn't do for me. I wouldn't go back and edit anything about our relationship. The truth of the matter is, I am my mother's daughter and have been for years. The ties between my mother and me are fierce and forever. I am eternally bound to her with our shared memories and her lessons, which are a mix of love, wonderment and pain. I think of myself as my mother's student -- observing her and, with a few adjustments, emulating her in many ways. I do this now and I will all the days of my life.
I am not a controlling mother. I don't like that approach, but it is interesting that I learned this from my mother. I learned what I like and what I do not like and they are equally important lessons.
With my grown daughters, I think it is better to be liked than right! If I cannot overlook, I forget. I have decided if they want my advice, they will have to ask me for it.
As the Escalade rolls to a stop at the market, I look at the back of the heads of my beautiful daughters, the mothers of my grandchildren and sigh with pleasure. I love them to my core.
My mother. My daughters. Myself. We are from the same seed. The umbilical cord can never be severed. Yes, there are turbulent moments. But they are just moments in a sea of unwavering calm. A masterpiece.
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