I dedicate this story to my daughters.
A Last-Minute Dinner Party Got Me Thinking
A few years ago, my ultimate concierge and I were in Arizona visiting one of my daughters. My Chicago, daughter, and family, were also visiting.
Late one afternoon my daughters and I drove to the market to buy steaks to “throw on the grill.” We were going to serve dinner to a group of 20!
Our minds were racing, and our mouths were going a mile a minute. Who would set the table? Who would make the salad? What kind of flowers? We were not organized for the task but bantered back and forth between giggles. We knew in the back of our minds dinner would be marvelous even though it was last minute.
As we drove to the market, I said, “Girls, let’s stay relaxed! You know we will pull it off. I am already envisioning a delicious dinner on an artistically adorned dining room table.”
My daughters are the Yin and the Yang. One a great cook. The other is a daunting artist. And then I added, so “let’s simply be.”
They cracked up laughing, and one said, “How can I ‘simply be’ with a mother like you!? I watched you all my life, never merely being, but doing so many things in so many areas that I felt if I didn’t emulate you there was something wrong with me!”
I thought to myself, like mother-like daughter. No daughter can escape being influenced by her mother.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Sitting in the backseat of the Escalade, and feeling like Miss Daisy (I love sitting in the back seat of cars and being chauffeured), I pondered what my daughter said, wondering, “Why do daughters struggle with what I call the mother-daughter syndrome?”
In other words, not wanting to be like their moms, yet hopelessly emulating them, as they mature, in so many ways?
My mind began to sift through my memories. I saw my mother as a young woman. She was very glamorous with piercing-laughing blue eyes, a great sense of style and more learned accomplishments than most women of her generation.
She could have been a CEO, was an avid reader and never missed doing the daily crossword puzzle. My mother also skied and was a low handicapped golfer; she knitted, knew how to throw a great party, and played bridge, canasta and Maj Jong. Her friendships were very important to her, and she was first and foremost a wonderful wife to my father.
I did not realize how much I was like my mother until I was much older. I was content and intent on being ‘me.’ But my mother was ingrained within me.
She was my mother, and I was her only daughter. As the first person I met, she bestowed upon me my first kiss, wiped away my first tear, taught me my values and helped me build my self-worth and tenacity to become all that I could.
A Work in Progress
My mother was the definition of unconditional love. I admire my mother and respect her for her accomplishments, honesty, ability to laugh often and unwavering loyalty and love for her family. And yet for years, our relationship was a “work in progress.” Why?
She was controlling, and I resented her, no matter right or wrong. I became a teenager, and as I was searching for my own identity, there was bound to be conflict. My mother wanted my hair short. I wanted my hair long. She always won.
She was very critical as she felt that was the way to raise her daughter. I wanted her approval, yet I was emerging as my person with my agenda. I wanted to be me! Our relationship was a “work in progress.”
My relationship with my mother, now 97 years old, is almost a completed book. I am sad. I love my mother, and she adores me. If she were able, there is nothing she wouldn’t do for me. I wouldn’t go back and edit anything about our relationship. Well, maybe a tinge!
Ties Between A Mother and Daughter Cannot be Severed
The truth of the matter is, I am my mother’s daughter and have been for years. The ties between my mother and me are fierce and forever. I am eternally bound to her with our shared memories and her lessons, which are a mix of love, wonderment, and pain.
I think of myself, today and always, as my mother’s student — observing her and, with a few adjustments, emulating her in many ways.
As the Escalade rolls to a stop at the market, I look at the back of the heads of my beautiful daughters, the mothers of my grandchildren, and sigh with delight. They are excellent mothers.
My mother. My daughters. Myself. We are from the same seed. The umbilical cord can never be severed. Yes, there are turbulent moments; they are just moments in a sea of unwavering calm. A true masterpiece.
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