Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I am a Mother to My Daughter and a Daughter to My Mother

Tired eyes and lack of enthusiasm courtesy of early days of postpartum exhaustion
In case you haven't noticed, or looked at a calendar, Mother's Day is right around the corner. The time is quickly approaching for us moms to sit back, relax, take a shower alone, and then make sure those kiddos have clean clothes, clean teeth, clean undies, all while destroying the house.  Get ready, girls.  We are in for an exciting time. 
As this Mother's Day approaches I feel a stirring within me as a momma.  Lately, I can't help but feel the weight of myself in the lives of my children.  I wake up daily with the knowledge that these babes are under my direction heavy on my mind.  Heavy on my heart.  They are under my influence.  Even more so, I look at my daughter, just a day shy of age Two, and know that we are about to enter the rest of our time together.  That time where I am the shining beacon of mother in her eyes, and that time she gets to grow into an even more brilliant light of life as herself, while I sit close by.

Youngest may be the fiercest thing I have ever beheld.  That child came of her own will the day before I was to be induced, and when she did decide to make her way to this Earth she was determined.  We got to the hospital at 11:30 am and she arrived at 1:34 pm.  I barely got my epidural.  Which was rude.  Girlfriend needed to slow it down just a smidge.  It's not painless work to push a tiny human through your body.  You know what I'm sayin', what I'm sayin'?  Of course you do.
She came into this world and screamed for her presence to be known.
She spoke.  I heard her.  I listened.
It took us all of five weeks to recognize this child had a mind of her own.  I left to go on a 24 hour trip, and the girl had to take a bottle, rather than nurse, while I was away.  After that, she refused to do anything but seek me out for nutrition.  You think I'm kidding?  Nope.  My bitty baby of a baby decided after a few hours of having to take a bottle that was enough for her.  She never took a bottle again. 
She spoke. I heard her.  I listened.
She has almost always had sass.  At eleven months of age she could booty pop better than I ever dreamed of doing.  I'm not exaggerating.  I have it on video.  She still loves to dance and sing.  If I am not dancing or singing to her liking she says, "No! No! No, mama!"
She speaks. I hear her.  I listen.

The other day Youngest was playing in my bathroom while I got ready for the day.  She had firm grasp on a couple of my necklaces; admiring their cheap design and faux sparkle (thanks Xhilaration!).  After entertaining herself for approximately 2.5 minutes she was ready for me to interact with her.  Youngest brought me one of my necklaces, and then gestured for me to put it on her.  "You want me to put this on you?" I said.
She nodded and then lifted her head, exposing her sweet little neck.  As I went to put my necklace on her the thought hit me,
"I am her mother."
The image of my sweet, precious Youngest wearing my Target chic around her neck was enough to bring me to tears.  In that moment the breadth of my role in her life firmly clasped itself to my heart as I wrapped that necklace around her.  I am her mother.  I am the woman she will look to, to become.  I am the woman she will worship.  I am the woman in her life.  And so, I get to put the necklace around her neck now for dress up.  I get to put the plastic beaded necklace around her neck before her first day of school.  I get to watch as she puts on her necklace as she goes on her first date.  I get to watch her put on her necklace for the last time before she leaves after high school.  I get to watch and love her. 
I get to hear her.  I get to listen to her.
I am her mother.

The weight of that, at times, feels unbearable, but it mostly feels like an honor.  Why I get to be hers and she gets to be mine, we may never know, but I am so glad we get to belong to each other.  I am sure I will get this relationship wrong on many occasions.  I am sure there will be days I insist on putting her necklace on when all she wants to do is put the thing on for herself.  I am sure there will be days I attempt to give her independence when all she needs is for me to hug her and tell her she is safe. 
I am fully aware of the precarious nature of the relationship between a mother and her daughter.  I have a mother.  I am her daughter. In my own relationship with my mother I have been wronged and I have wronged.  I have loved and been loved.  I have been the aggressor and I have been the victim.  My relationship with my mother is not perfect, but it is ours.  She is the one who watched as I clumsily stumbled through each milestone of life.  She is the one who helped me up and pushed me down.  We have climbed the mountain, and tumbled down it all while mending and breaking one another's hearts.  She is my mother, and I love her for all of the heroic and villainous roles she played in my story. 

As Youngest turns two next week I feel the tides of my role in her life changing.  It feels stronger.  It feels more like I am about to play a more central role in her life emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  I am about to wrestle with the weight of myself as I attempt to provide her with what she needs in our relationship. 
The only thing I know is that when she speaks it is my job to hear her.  It is my job to listen.  We will start there.
We will likely wrestle with the rest for the rest of our lives.

Happy Mother's Day, Loves.
May this day, emotional for so many of us, for so many reasons, bring you sturdier ground to stand on, even if it is harder ground.  May you find your inner Mother.  May you give her room to breathe. 
May you love yourself, and all of those you Mother, well on this Mother's Day and everyday.


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