It was a late night of chatting on Facebook between friends. We were having fun, enjoying the prized moments of adult conversation while our children were sleeping or otherwise preoccupied. In those few minutes of free time, we covered everything from getting fitted for running bra’s to the greasy details about making donuts for Hanukkah.
Smiling to myself, I thought, “Mothers are great“. We are funny, creative, resourceful and resilient. Sometimes we are brutally honest, and other times not honest enough. At times we are forgiving of others but not ourselves. We love our friends deeply, craving those moments of our youth that made us feel like there was not a care in the world. We are strong and powerful, vulnerable and tired. We want our daughters (and sons) to live a life free from pain and loss, but we know that is not possible. So we do our best to give them a strong foundation and send them out into the world to take it all on, wide awake and without fear.
For all that I have written so far, this has been the most challenging post to date. I have written and re-written my thoughts so many times, I can’t believe I’m still sitting here at the computer. I thought it would be easy, run a little, honor the mothers and daughters I know, piece of cake. Surprisingly, it hit a nerve that I wasn’t expecting.
The relationship between a mother and daughter, well….heck, can anyone truly honor it to the depths that it exists? It’s such an intimate moment, filled with every emotion imaginable. I don’t know about you, but my daughter can take me from twisted to joyful in the blink of an eye.
Thoughts of my own relationship with my daughter left me feeling a little uncomfortable. Truth be told, my discomfort may have been linked to my horrific eating habits that day, which consisted of a donut, a handful of junior mints (holiday- the best!), and coffee, lots of coffee… but I did run, doesn’t make it right, but in my book it counts for something.
I started to wonder what she would be writing if she was the author of this post. How would she see our relationship years from now? Do I really listen to her? If asked today, her answer would be no. I recently overheard her giving Tony strict instructions, “Dad, just make sure mom is listening to you“, I am forever preoccupied. In the end, for me, most importantly, do I really see her or do I see me? There’s also the lingering question of what am I doing right? Don’t answer that. I’m one sentence away from sending out invitations to my mom pity-party.
There are days that I throw up my hands, feeling like I have no clue how to raise a daughter. Then there are days I wonder where she came from, where did this brilliant, vibrant creature come from, and how did I get so lucky to be her mother? Regardless of where our relationship is or where it will go, one thing I do know is that I love her. That I can count on.
I decided the best way to honor all of the mothers and daughters that I know is to honor the love between them. Regardless of their relationship, where it started, where it is or where it is going, there is a love that remains constant and will remain forever, even if at times it is not understood.
While asking for photographs for the slideshow, I was deeply moved by one mother’s memory of a time when her mother was sick. She was dying, and in that moment she would share one of the most important things she could have ever shared with her daughter. It was a gift from the heart, no strings attached, words that released her and grounded her. This is what she said,
“She was sick, at the end of her fight with lymphoma, and I was torn about time with her in Memphis vs time here in CO with my 1-year old. She told me to go home, but I said I owed it to her to be there. She took my hand and said “You don’t owe me anything. I had you because I wanted you and anything I ever gave you I gave because I wanted to.” It’s the most liberating conversation I’ve ever had, and I want more than anything to pass it along to my girls.” (She is pictured above, with her own two daughters).
I couldn’t agree more, how liberating. The words “You don’t owe me anything” hovered over my heart. It made me think about all of the women that I know that have grieved and continue to grieve the loss of a mother, a child, a loved one. I thought about the things they wanted to say, the things they did say, an emptying of the heart, waiting to be filled once again.
So many of you have shared your thoughts about motherhood, what you thought it would be and what it has actually become. I loved what one friend shared about what motherhood means to her…
“The picture is of my youngest daughter along with a little girl, who was my 5th out of 11 foster child. What is important to me about the picture as it relates to mothers, is how much I loved all these little children who passed through my life. And it did not matter if I actually gave birth to them… I truly loved them as if they were my own! And in this picture, at the end of a long day with 5 children… snuggle time remains important! I love it!! ”
As I looked at all of the beautiful faces appearing daily in my in-box I couldn’t help but wish that every one of you would know their story. Their triumphs, their challenges, their beauty and courage. Their laughter, their happiness and joyful ways of looking at life. Then I realized, you do know their story.
These are the women in your lives that have loved you, encouraged you and guided you. They are the women that have fought cancer, grieved for their mother, for their child and faced life challenges with grace and determination. They are the women that advocate for your child, and theirs. They support you. They are the women that say hello to you when you pick up your children at school. They are the women that bring you chocolate and Kleenex when you need it, because they “get it”. They love deeply, laugh loudly and live fully. They they are you.
As I was finishing the slideshows I thought about what a friend said to me as she was sharing memories and appreciating her time with her mother and daughters, she ended our conversation with , “Can’t wait to see what beauty you excavate!!” at first I had a twinge of panic. Will I choose the right words to honor these special moments? Panic quickly faded to relief as I realized that the beauty has already been excavated, it comes from you.
Thank you to each and everyone of you for sharing these photographs and memories. Cheers to your fabulous, adventurous, loving hearts, may they always be your guiding light.
“Mothers and Daughters- My Wish For You”
“Girls just want to have fun” – for Gracie Joles, in honor of her fun loving, sparkly spirit that continues to inspire us to find the joy in every day.
*Slideshows are unlisted and can only be viewed by using this link directly. All photographs are the property of the original owners and cannot be duplicated without permission, thank you!