But then we grow up, for some of us that happens at ten years old and for others of us it doesn't happen until we are twenty or thirty years old. I was somewhere in between.
A long time ago an event happened in my family--the details are not important--the reverberations of that event which went on for some time, are what is relevant. I suddenly saw my mother for what she was, not a god, not a moral compass, not the person with a perfect answer to any question.
For a year I barely spoke to my mother. My husband and I went to the major family holidays--Christmas and Thanksgiving and I avoided interacting with my mother any more than necessary--my cold shoulder was everywhere apparent. In between holidays, she would call, I would answer her questions tersely and we would hang up.
Then I got pregnant. Throughout the pregnancy I kept my mother updated when she would call. I thought about letting my child be influenced by this grandmother--I couldn't see denying my mother access to her second grandchild, but nor could I fathom them having a relationship. I was very high on my self-righteous horse.
Then, on a cold, blustery day in January, my sweet baby girl was born. After all was cleaned up, and she and I were safely ensconced in my bed, the doctor and nurse gone, my friends on their way back to their own homes, their own children and babies, all the photographs that could be taken from every angle were taken and my husband was in an exhausted sleep next to me... then I paused to take in this miracle.
I held in my arms a perfect, beautiful baby girl. Though I didn't know it yet, the magic of that moment would be repeated three more times. This though, was my first. I was enchanted. I was in love --in a way that I had never experienced before.
As I sat there in my bed looking down into her sweet face I suddenly felt a chill run down my spine. How could I be a mother? I had no training. I had no experience. Terror overtook me for a moment as I contemplated motherhood and all of the responsibility it entailed. I thought of my mother. Of her failings, of her strength, of her love. And suddenly, just like that, I grew up. Suddenly I knew, my mother wasn't a dysfunctional, crazy mother with nothing to offer me. She was, in fact, merely a human being, a flawed human being like all of us are. One who makes bad choices, mistakes she will later regret, one who wishes she had shown more love and more courage and more strength.
And so my story--which started in love--ends in love. Love of a daughter for a mother and love of a mother for a daughter. A realistic relationship, where we each do our inept best to love, to be, to live.
Me and my Mom... I turned out so like her!