On the eve of Mother’s Day I contemplate my relationship with my mother, filled with its joys and its disappointments, its meaningful memories and broken promises and I can’t help but think of my relationship with my own daughters.
My children are my world and I love how close we all are. But my relationship with my son is so different than with my daughters. My son is easy; he’s refreshing. We can talk about anything and laugh and cry. He’s as open as a teenage boy can be with a parent and the trust between us is unprecedented.
But my daughters. Oh, those damn girls. I love them to death, but at 8 and 13, they may actually be my death. Between the whining and the crying and the attitudes and mood swings…
One minute it’s Mommy let’s cuddle on the couch, the next its Mom! Stop looking at me! They are beautiful and talented and interesting and unique. I look at them in reverence and awe and often think I created this. They are my ultimate work of art, my life’s work.
This is all good and any parent would say the same of their own children. But these girls try my nerves like no other. Nothing is enough; all that I do, I still seem to fall short in their eyes. One moment I think I do too much, that I spoil them. The next, I’m wrought with guilt and a feeling of inadequacy as a parent. It’s the ultimate roller coaster ride.
As a parent, all you ever want for your children is for things to be better and easier than your own childhood. You want to provide the opportunities that you never had and give your children everything you can, everything your own parents couldn’t (or in some cases wouldn’t). You hope and pray that when your children are grown that they remember all of your sacrifices and that you can enjoy a loving relationship with their adult selves.
To sit and laugh and share a glass of wine or a leisurely lunch on a Tuesday afternoon with my thirty year old daughter – I look forward to that day.
It’s a difficult balance for a parent – to give all that you can to your child while still maintaining a sense of self. I am a mother, but it’s not all who I am. I am a person, an individual, with my own hopes and dreams and needs. Often, these things get pushed aside, or even buried, for the sake of children. One day, perhaps, they will realize this. Maybe not.
So on the eve of this Mother’s Day, I can’t help but think of my own mother. She wasn’t perfect, and like everyone, I can think of sad or empty moments in my childhood. But she’s my mother, and she gave me all that she could, the best part of herself. She taught me to love and how to be my own person. She prepared me for the task of being mother to two very intelligent, beautiful, demanding, and moody girls.
The best gift, I think, that I could give my mother is an apology. It’s taken me a few decades, but I’m finally realizing the sacrifices she’s made. I’m fairly certain I was a lot like my own daughters at their age. She gave all of herself to her family, she left nothing out. I’m not sure if I’m quite that giving, but I do try to give my children the best of me.
To my Mother: Happy Mother’s Day. I Love You.