Regarding Mothers and Daughters

Mothers And Daughters

detail: decorate with photos

Happy Mother’s Day!  I know it’s late.  And I don’t usually post on Sunday.  But I had to pay tribute.

When I was five, my mother went into labor early and delivered her first son prematurely.  He died three hours later.  These days, chances are he would have lived.  By current preemie standards, he would have been robust.   She was very young; 26 (yes, girls, 26 is quite young). When she speaks of it now, pain is still present.  At that time, her devastation must have felt infinite.  I imagine her holding him those three hours, and saying goodbye, and it is too much for me.  The people in her small university community were very kind to her, bringing food and treats and helping with her three little girls. Helping with the funeral.

After the funeral, an elderly lady approached my mother, took her hand, and held it for a moment in her own gnarly wrinkled ones.  She looked at their hands together and told my mother that once, her own hands had looked just like my mother’s smooth young ones.  While this may sound like an odd, even introverted comment at such a time, my mother was touched, and remembered it.  I wonder if hope somehow manifested itself in the older woman’s gesture.

Years later, while my sisters and I sat with my mother at her kitchen table talking,  my mother took one of my hands, which looked younger then than it looks today, and told me that story.  Her  hands were beautiful—but they looked  older than mine.  And now mine are starting to look like hers did then.  I have daughters who have the soft, lovely hands of young womanhood that I once had.  It’s a little surreal, this mothers and daughters thing.

Just a couple of years ago, I went through a traumatic but necessary development interval. Where I had to make peace with discrepancies between long-cherished expectations and reality, or go crazy. For awhile, I was angry with my mother, which I regret now.  I believe it was part of the process of learning to accept responsibility for my own happiness.  It doesn’t matter what exactly I was angry about; in my pain, I was a child again, sure I was entitled to comfort and previous protection, but terribly uncomfortable, terribly vulnerable.  I didn’t lash out (thankfully), but I did distance myself.  I didn’t realize how hurtful that distancing was, until my oldest daughter distanced herself from me. Which quickly ended my little pout episode.  Knowing the mistakes I’d made with my daughter, but also knowing how deeply I loved her and how hard I’d tried to give her everything she needed to be happy, I saw my own mother more clearly. I was grateful for her love for me, and longed to be close to her once more.

I love you, Mom.

There have been years I’ve hated Mother’s Day.  Resented the unattainable ideal, the contrived sentiment.   The implied expectation of pampering and spot-on tear-inducing gifts.  But this year, I let go.  I just let it be, and was glad for the mothers around me, including myself.  We’re all terribly flawed.  We have embarrassing moments and tragic failures.  But we also have such enormous capacities to love. Sometimes, we love really, really well.

zinnias painting detailpainting detail

PS:  I must also mention my mother in law.  I could write about my grandmothers, and I am very grateful to both of them for sure, but…I’m convinced  the one in heaven knows my heart already, and the one on earth doesn’t see this blog; the computer doesn’t figure in her daily routine with dementia.  I’ll write about them later; this post is already much longer than I planned.  But.  My mother in law provided safe haven for my daughter as she fumbled with her launch.  She has provided safe harbor for me too, at lonely times.  She raised a gentleman who would move earth and sky (if he could) to make me happy.  She insists on gentlemanlike behavior from her grandsons.  These are all gifts that I benefit from…I can’t help but thank her for them.  I love you Edna.

My mother in law

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  • Tennille July 6, 2013, 7:52 pm

    Lynaea, I am infatuated with your writing and beautiful perspectives. I hopped on to check you out after our brief meeting today and am enthralled and enchanted by your talent and gumption. Thank you for your kindness today about my family mimicking your beautiful home. Cant wait to get started, I will keep you posted on progress if it comes…Thank you. I was so glad to meet you. You and your husband are truly lovely people.

    • Lynaea July 6, 2013, 11:07 pm

      Thank you Tennille! I was delighted to meet you…and tickled by the implied compliment (imitation is a high compliment). Thank you so much for dropping by! And for your graciousness. I so look forward to watching your house adventure, however it unfolds.

  • nancy Wilson May 14, 2013, 10:59 pm

    I love how you can say what I feel, with words that I cannot put togehter. i love you, and I love what you wrote. It is all beautiful, and challenging. Would not trade my lovely family for anything. thank you. Love your Mother.

  • Lindsey May 14, 2013, 1:50 pm

    Hope you had a fantastic Mother’s Day! What a sweet post! 🙂
    Lindsey recently posted…Awesome Sauce Mini SandwichesMy Profile

  • Maya May 14, 2013, 3:33 am


    Your beautiful and warm story had moved me to tears.
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us and more importantly for leaving such a sweet comment on my blog which led to my discovering your wonderful world.
    Maya recently posted…Crocheted Children’s Anklet PatternMy Profile

  • Angie@EchoesofLaughter May 13, 2013, 5:32 pm

    What a beautiful post! So sad about your baby brother. Mothers & Daughters can have such complex relationships at times. My daughter is 16 now and I notice that she is distancing herself from me, which is a normal part of them transitioning into adulthood. It is hard but I just keep loving her and giving her space. And grandmothers are absolutely important in their granddaughters lives! I loved my grandmother’s dearly! Have a lovely week! Angie xo
    Angie@EchoesofLaughter recently posted…15 Inspiring Outdoor SpacesMy Profile

  • Cynthia May 13, 2013, 8:59 am

    One of the nicest mothers’ day essays i’ve read. maybe because this year I let mother’s day be also and celebrated all the mothers i know.


    • Lynaea May 13, 2013, 1:14 pm

      Thank you Cynthia! I hope yours was wonderful. Maurya loved skyping with you.

  • Joann @ Woman in Real Life May 13, 2013, 6:23 am

    What a touching story about your baby brother. I can imagine the pain that your mom must have felt, holding that tiny baby in her arms and having to let him go.

    Being a mother comes with so much responsibility, and yes we are naturally flawed (I know I am anyway!) But hopefully the good moments come more often than the bad, and our kids think of us with fondness. 🙂
    Joann @ Woman in Real Life recently posted…The Weekend – Mother’s Day editionMy Profile

    • Lynaea May 13, 2013, 1:13 pm

      thank you Joann. That is my goal, to be thought of with fondness. It seems to be reciprocal…my kids are more apt to be fond of them when they know they’re loved. Love is what its all about, after all!