“Mom, I posted an embarrassing picture of you on the web today.” These are not words you want to hear from your daughter first thing in the morning. Actually, not at any time of the day.
“Oh?” was all I managed to say.
“Just kidding. It’s not really embarrassing. But I hope you’re not mad when you read my blog,” my daughter said yesterday morning. That was not exactly reassuring.
“Let me call you back,” I said, heading for my computer.
This year my daughter wrote a note on the Mother’s Day card she sent me that said she’s enjoying our new relationship as friends instead of just mother-daughter. My husband asked me, “What does she mean by that?” I shrugged and said, “I’m not sure. I don’t think she remembers that she’s written that several times before.” Since I save all my cards from the kids (some years were leaner than others), I’m sure I could reconstruct a timeline of our “changing” relationship.
My husband’s question prompted me to think about the nature of relationships, especially the mother-daughter one. If I look at my relationship with my own mother, I’d say it never progressed or changed like mine has with my daughter. My mother was one of the sweetest women I’ve ever known, extremely loving, but she was from another time. Being a wife and mother was her career, and she did a great job of it. But she was so totally devoted to my father that after we children left home, she didn’t make time to spend just with us without my father. I missed out getting to know her as a woman with her own identity, and she missed the opportunity to get to know me in a new way.
I, too, am devoted to my husband, but whenever it’s been possible, I have traveled to see my daughter so we can have some one-on-one time (well, as one-on-one as it can get with my daughter’s houseful). Plus, we call each other and can talk for nearly an hour at a time, something I never did with my own mother. Long distance was expensive then, and my mother worried about the cost. I wonder what we would have said to each other anyway after we discussed how the kids were and what the weather was like. Now I have so many things I’d like to say to her, but she died when she was only a few years older than I am now.
I tried never to spend a lot of time wondering what my children thought of me as a mother when they were growing up. Whenever my thoughts would stray in that direction, I’d rein them in with a, “You don’t want to go there…” So it was with trepidation that I read my daughter’s blog yesterday (“The Mother Load” on mypajamadays.com). Never did I expect what I read there. It was something a mother always hopes for from a daughter but so few are privileged to hear. My daughter is seeing my life through a new perspective and it finally makes sense to her. I want to preserve this moment. I want to savor its sweetness and store it up for when she shakes her head at the wacky things her old mom does so I can say, “Just you wait, dear daughter!”