5.12.2006

My Mother's Day

One of the most disappointing aspects of becoming a woman is the realization that your mother is not the perfect person you thought she was when you were a little girl; one of the most liberating parts is embracing the fact that you don't have to be perfect, either. You can try to be better. You need to learn from her mistakes. But there's freedom in knowing that you are allowed make your own.

Maybe I would've been a happier person growing up if I didn't have to give birth to my own daughter to realize parents aren't cut out of a faultless mold. Just as a mother must feel pressure from her children to show no flaws, the children, too, have to perceive the weight of a promise unkept. Not that my mother made any such promises. How could she have? I just wonder how I ever translated the words "I love you," and "you are safe," to mean "your life with me will be complete harmony." Because that's a loaded expectation that can lead to nothing but the feeling that one has been cosmically gypped.

I know my daughter will hate me for reasons totally different from the ones that bred my own contempt for my mother. It's only logical. I fear that Tolby will even harbor resentment for some of the same exact things she sees in me that I railed against so ferociously when I was young--twenty years ago, fifteen, five. I'm trying hard to prevent the latter from coming true, and am accepting the inevitability of the former. I can only ever be me, and that's a person who messes up a lot despite the most benign of intentions. I am not my mother. But I am not perfect.

With my first Mother's Day looming, I am grateful to be able to share it with my mom on solid, level ground, packed down by so many tiny footsteps and welcoming in its earthiness. Tolby will feel the warmth as she swirls in and out of our space, and maybe she will mistake it for perfection. That's what childhood is, I guess.

I'm finally growing up.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Motherhood Uncensored said...

I loved this. I'm like you in that I'm not silly enough to think my daughter won't find ways to loathe me, but hopefully it will be because I care too much, or I love her too much, or she didn't call me when she was out late. And not because (in my situation) she didn't protect me, guide me, or show me the way.

This is amazing:

"Tolby will feel the warmth as she swirls in and out of our space, and maybe she will mistake it for perfection."

This is my hope. cv

3:30 PM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

I feel I have grown more in the almost three years I've been a mother than I have in the 28 that I've been alive.

This is a beautiful post.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Amy (binkytown) said...

Having a complicated relationship with my mother, I find Mothers Day to be tough. We can't have complete harmony with our kids, as crazy as that seems because our relationship now when they are so small is so amazing and powerful, but if being able to share your daughter with your mom on solid ground, regardless of how you got there- that is perfection.
PS- I linked to you today as part of Her Bad Mothers linky love fest. :) Happy 1st Mothers Day!

10:23 PM  
Anonymous lildb said...

totally perfect. I love the image of "the earth, packed down by so many tiny footprints."

after expecting so much from our own mothers, how can we not feel the gigantic burdens we have created for ourselves in taking on the same task? it is a tough row that we'll be hoeing.

you've tackled a tough subject and articulated it beautifully.

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

I ran away from home only once. It was because my mom could not hem my pants for some school function I had. All the other mothers could. I am so glad my mom is not perfect. She is everything I want her to be. I hope mine will say the same.

3:55 PM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

That was so beautifully written and echoes so much of how I feel with my own mother-daughter relationship. Wonderful post.

Happy Mother's Day to you!

8:21 AM  
Blogger J said...

I'm very thankful that my mom isn't perfect....it would be impossible to live up to, and thus SO annoying. I hope Maya realizes the same about me.

Happy first Mother's Day, and many more to come!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

This is a stunning sentiment and I agree. Although I could also argue the opposite: that it's not disappointing at all to learn your mother is human. It's actually sort of refreshing. It takes the burden off.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

Cam over from Mama Tulip's site and glad I did. I'll be back!

Yay for me! A new blog that is actually good!

3:07 PM  
Blogger T. said...

I am hoping my daughter will forgive me for all future embarassments and failures.

I love this post. It is like you reached inside my head and pulled it out. Thank you.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

I want to echo motherhood uncensored in hoping that when they do want to hate me, it is because I was overdoing it and not underdoing it.

Very well done. Thank you.

1:07 PM  

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