A couple of weeks ago my husband walked into the kitchen to find me taking apart and cleaning a vacuum cleaner. My college student niece had mentioned she needed a vacuum cleaner for her apartment. I spotted a nice one ($350 new) for $15 at a garage sale.
My husband, seeing what I was doing said, “Your Ramona is showing." I cocked my head at him quizzically and he added, "That is something your mom would do.” I smiled. He was right.
Some women would take offense to being compared to their mom. I find it to be a high complement. I can’t say I always would have felt that way. Teenage years tend to be tumultuous for the mother/daughter relationship. Daughters are trying to become independent young women and mothers want to keep them safe and protected. As the old Will Smith song goes, parents just don't understand.
Once I hit my thirties my relationship with my mom changed. We entered a phase of mutual respect. I felt like she had finally accepted my choices and loved the person I had become. I admired her strength, independence, courage and patience. Those traits have held our family and her marriage to my dad together for over 65 years.
It wasn’t a smooth road to get to our current relationship. There were some very hurtful things said over the years. I didn’t take the predetermined path of getting married young and having babies within a few years. I think that kept us from bonding over raising children which she had in common with my sisters. I took the education and career route instead, so we didn’t have much in common for many years.
It turns out I did inherit many of her traits. The best ones, I think. Though I didn’t realize it when I was a teenager, my mom is a very strong independent woman. There were glimpses as I was growing up, such as how she stood up to school principals on occasion. I didn’t realize just how strong she was until I reflected on it as an adult. My dad suffered a brain injury 32 years ago. Our life was never the same, but mom was resourceful and found a way to make money and food stretch. Every once in a while, when I am cooking, I think about how mom made things and realize that some of what she added to dishes was to make it go a little further. How else do you explain hamburger gravy on a slice of bread?
My mom is now in her 80s and continues to care for my dad in the home I grew up in. I am so thankful to still have her around and that we are able to have a relationship. I pick her brain about life when she was growing up and my grandparents before I was born. Learning about those things has made us closer and I have a better understanding of who she is, outside of her role as mom. I consider every moment talking to her as precious. One day, I know I won’t receive letters from her or be able to pick up the phone and hear her voice.
Mother and daughter relationships can be complicated. Not all are repairable, but there is nothing like a mother’s love. So, if you can, find a way to repair the relationship you have with your mom before it is too late.
Ask her about your early childhood. She has insights into why you turned out how you did. I remember there was a man that used to come to my dad's shop often when I was little. I was very afraid of him and hid in the other room under my mom's desk when he was there. What I don't remember is why I was afraid. From my mom I learned he used to stick his dentures out at me. So, my fear was justified!
Get your mom to share stories about her life before you were born, you just might learn why she made the choices she made and turned out how she did.
Give me the compliment that I am my mother's daughter any day. I will wear it with pride. Can you say the same?
How has your relationship with your mother or daughter changed?