Mothers and daughters are closest, when daughters become mothers.

7 May

I was 25 and unwieldy my first mother’s day, pregnant but not showing, being fat and squishy in all the places skinny girls start to get taut and glowy around 6 months. I was browsing in the bookstore with my then husband, bemused, fingering the childbirth books, fantasizing about my perfect birth.

Feeling the echoes of my mother, where she should be. A year before this, I had dreamt of her with me as I birthed. I did not give a child, but in hindsight, I gave myself over, releasing her spirit and splinters of her memory from me, bursting forth in light and ache. Perhaps I am a prophet. But that day, I felt only the loss, the emptiness of new life without the guidance of an elder, of a mother, of my mother.

I will never feel as alone as I did that day, surrounded on all sides by mother daughter duos giggling, bonding, drinking latte’s and tea, eating scones and generally, absorbing the air I could no longer breathe.

I made a conscious decision that day, to finally accept my pregnancy, to finally come to grips with my transition into adulthood, to the mother, to the person I would become. I wasn’t just bringing new life into the world. I was healing my own, finding it with groping paws and empty promises.

I picked up a pregnancy journal, and decided it was ok to become someone’s mother.

***

I said I was going to ignore Mother’s Day. And, it’s very likely that I will, knowing there will be no cards or flowers or well wishes, just like every other year-difference being is that this year I don’t have to be mad at anyone about it. It just is.

But it feels off to not acknowledge it.

It’s not razor sharp anymore, that pain. I don’t walk dazed through my days, like I’d fallen down a set of stairs and hit my head and could only see the stars before me. The pain lessens, nearly disappears, leaving me only a reminder of who I’m not, what I could have been, how it all could have been so different.

If I look at the clearly, my mother never dying would have likely meant me never wasting my teen years embroiled in drugs and drinking and confusion. My mother never becoming sick would have meant I would have never moved to Northern Ontario. Never bought a magazine. Never met the father of my children.

Never had my children. My mother’s death directly created my daughters.

As I tell Vivian, frequently-light and dark are only two sides of a thin coin. So it seems, are life and death.

I cannot curse her death any longer. I cannot curse my loss without acknowledging what I have gained. Who I have become. The lessons writ large on my heart, in my skin, by losing her all those years ago. I am a mother because I have no mother.

Ten years ago, when asked, I would have said I would give up anything, and everything to have her back.

No longer.

Becoming a mother has given this to me-a love broad enough to hold my pain, the ability to understand her sacrifice, her pain, her ache, while watching my own recede in the distance like the sun setting in August. Becoming a mother has allowed me to let go in my own way, sitting late at night with a daughter under my child, curled into my body, secure in the knowledge that Mummy loves her, and will never let anything harm her.

I miss my mother. But I’m proud of the mother she has helped me become.

****

Sometimes I stare at the sky as I walk home, and marvel at how big it seems in this province, how spacious and grand. The wind pushes the clouds around, musses my hair and I’ll feel, briefly, like I’m 17 and impossible and wrinkled with pain. The sky smells of tomorrow and I feel my heart pause, sure of her breath on my neck, her perfume on the breeze. Her voice whispers around me, just past hearing, and the world rights itself.

I’m solid again, and grown.

She’s with me everyday, as she’s part of me. I have become her. My daughter’s hold her attitude in their eyes, her bravery in their hearts. My mother’s humour infuses my days, dry and startled.

We are our mother’s daughters.

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7 Responses to “Mothers and daughters are closest, when daughters become mothers.”

  1. Lili May 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    We are indeed our Mother’s daughters(no matter what we think at 13) and it gets better as they get older. I was a rebellious nightmare until around 19 then woe(seriously) to anyone that irritated or upset my mother.

    She left this world in 1996 and I miss her so,so much. I will never have kids of my own but am blessed with a ton of nieces, nephews, and Godchildren.

    Hug your little ones tight. It all goes so fast.

    Happy Mother’s Day and hugs for you too 🙂 You are awesome.

  2. sweetsalty kate May 7, 2010 at 6:13 pm #

    There’s so much conviction in this. There doesn’t always need to be conviction (a lack of it is natural, sometimes), but it’s nice. It makes me more sure of my own. xo

  3. Shana May 8, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    No, mothers and daughters do not become closer when daughters become mothers.

    I grew away from my mother, who pushed and pushed for me to have children against my inclinations, when I learned that: 1) motherhood was absolutely hideous especially in the first years, and 2) she had lied to me about how much she enjoyed motherhood herself. When she was strong-arming me into having kids, she said raising my sister and me was the most wonderful thing in the world. AFTER I had kids, she said it was absolutely horrible.

    Why be close to a liar and a schemer? I still “love” her (whatever that means), but I would prefer not to have any interaction with her now.

  4. Jennifer May 8, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    I don’t think mothers get closer. Maybe in normal, non royally screwed up families they do. I did get closer to my MIL after my kids were born, but then, she was doing wonderful helpfull things that mothers do when their children have children.

    I really feel the absense of a loving mother. I never had that. Ever. When she pretended to love me, there were always strings or conditions. I played a part in her sick little play and when I refused to play my role anymore, I was cut out of her life. My step mother, basically did the same thing, when I refused to tow the line and listen to her trash my dad, I became enemy #1.

    Now, like Shana, I prefer not to have contact at all.

    I’m making new rules in this whole motherhood thing, new patterns.

    You can too.

  5. bipolarlawyercook May 9, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    And happy mother’s day to you, as well. May your daughter bring you some joy today.

  6. krashton May 9, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    I thought about you, and all of my other motherless daughter friends, today. That is a wonderful perspective to think of your life w/o your mother. I spent some time with my mother’s grandchildren (my brother’s kids) and I had some similar thoughts. It’s not likely that my brother would have married his ex-wife if my mom were around, yet at the same time, we wouldn’t have these children in our lives and I’m glad that we have them.

  7. Hannah May 10, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    Mother’s Day is hard around here, because I love my mother so much, and Michael hasn’t spoken to his mother in years. Even his father’s death didn’t melt the ice, and I kind of thought it would.

    I think it’s a damn hard day for a lot of people.

    Complex things you’re delving into, here. Interesting post that I may have to chew on for a bit.

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