Monday, May 7, 2012

Mothers and Daughters

Mothers and daughters.  Daughters and mothers.  I'm not sure what it is about that maternal bond between mother and daughter that causes such an intense, passionate, yearning between the two. Longing not only to be the best for the other, but often times, to be the other.  Daughters wanting to grow up and be the woman they see in their mother.  Mothers wanting to protect their daughters from all of the pitfalls they experienced;  not necessarily to relive their youth through their girls, rather to guide their footsteps as they navigate the path to womanhood.  And so, it seems the two are are often caught in an intricate and delicate dance of love and hate.

I've been witness to countless friends who struggle in their relationships with their mothers.  Constantly aiming to please, yet always feeling they fall short and resulting in hurt feelings, animosity, irritation, and down-right ire. I guess I'm lucky.  No.  Scratch that.  I KNOW I'm damn lucky to have had the relationship I had with my mother.  She and I were always close.  I've written about it before, but will write about it again and again because my mother defined me.  She helped me become the woman I am today.  Of course there were plenty of trying times - mostly during those awkward teenage years when I was sure I knew all there was to know and my mother just didn't understand.  And also during those especially trying years when I was trying to figure out how to be an adult - to gain my independence - and didn't know how to break those proverbial apron strings and ended up being horrible and sassy and (I'll admit it) pretty darn awful to my mother.

But the thing is, no matter how awful I was, no matter what wretched thing I spouted out, or horrible thing I did - my mom was always there.  She was always there to provide a hug, to hold my hand, to let me lie with my head in her lap while she stroked my hair, feeling the vibrations of her as she spoke.  She was simply my best friend.  There never has been (and probably never will be) another soul who could tell me when to pull my head out of my ass or when I was being dramatic or when I was over-reacting.  Not anyone who I would really listen to, that is.

I sought my mother's counsel for every major decision in my life.  The all important teenage angst of what outfit should I wear to what function to what college to attend.  What wedding dress to wear to who to marry.  How to mother my infant daughter to how to grieve the death of my father.  She was the first person I called when I was (insert emotion) - happy, sad, scared, elated, devastated, and often times, just because.  She was there.  For all of it.

Until that fateful day - when she was ripped away from me.  I suppose I'll never really get over that.  And just when it seems I feel like I've come to terms with it - something else happens that pulls me right back into that Place of Unhappiness.  When I need to hear my mother's voice, to hear her words of wisdom, to feel her hands stroking my hair as much as I need air to breathe.

Which is why this situation with Anna is even more unbearable at times.  I desperately want to talk to my mother, to hear her take on the situation.  I want her to tell me 'hey, it's not totally crazy for your daughter to talk to herself for hours in the mirror - you used to do the same.'  I want to hear her reassuring voice telling me that everything is going to be okay.  That I'm not totally screwing up my children.  And that no matter what happens, the love and bond between a mother and her daughter will somehow, in some way, provide that safety net for my child that I'm so afraid I've forgotten to secure the ropes for.

I've been reading a book called Bloom for my book club.  It's the account of a young mother who had to come to terms with the surprising news that her child was born with Down Syndrome, with no previous knowledge, no expectation until she met her for the first time in the birthing room.  Its the story of  how she struggled in the days and weeks after her daughter's birth.  It's a deeply moving book, well written, courageous, thought provoking, and tear-jerking at times.

Want to know what caused me to cry - and I mean really cry - those big, fat tears - those snotty, air-gulping, need to sleep for days after tears?  It wasn't the struggle this woman went through as she figured out how to mother the child she didn't expect she'd have.  No, it was her account of her own mother.  How her mother came rushing in - how she picked up the pieces - how she handed her the 'get out of adulthood free' card - and took care of her baby by folding laundry and making casseroles and tidying her house.  How when she needed it most - her mother was there - to smooth her hair and tell her in her only-a-mom-can-do-way that everything was going to be alright.

And it made me miss my mother even more.

My mommy.

I don't want her to come fold laundry or make casseroles or water the plants or sweep the floor.  Don't get me wrong - I'd relish the help - and there is many a day when I fully covet a 'get out of adulthood free' card where for just one day, one day, I wouldn't have to be responsible for anyone or anything but instead, have someone taking care of me and making the most simplest of decisions for me.  But what I really want, what I really crave, is time with my mother.  To feel her hands.  To feel her voice vibrating through her body as I lay my head on her lap - telling me its going to be okay.

And I want her to tell me how to do it.  How to create that bond with my daughter. One that is apparently atypical, that is not filled with feelings of inadequacy or hurt but rather a fulfilling and loving and safe place.  I want my relationship with my daughter to be as strong as mine was with my mother.  I want to be able to tell Anna when to pull her head out of her ass and when she's being dramatic - and have her really listen.  I want to be the person she runs to at the end of the day to tell all her secrets to.  When things are wrong, I want to be the one to help her pick up the pieces - to soothe her soul by laying her head in my lap and stroking her hair.  And when things are joyful, I want to be the one she calls to celebrate.

We're off to such a rocky start, she and I.  I'm not sure if its her personality versus mine - if its her 'disorder' that causes her to seem so indifferent to me - or some strange combination of the two.  When I share this with Deonne - he brushes it off and tells me 'she's not you and you're not your mother - you can't expect the same relationship.'  And while he may be right in his linear and orderly engineering world - I don't know how else to feel.  It's what I know.  I only know how to be the daughter I once was to the only mother I'll ever know.  And I struggle daily to be the mother I wish I could be to the only daughter I'll ever know.

Mothers and daughters.  Daughters and mothers.  I wonder where this crazy dance I am on - in limbo as a daughter - completely unsure as a mother - will take me.

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