Postcards from Mommywood: Lessons My Mother Taught Me
As this Mother’s Day approaches, I’m more grateful to her than ever.
“Oh my God, I’ve turned into my mother!”
That’s what I told myself last night when, after an unusually difficult stretch between dinner and bedtime, I found myself reprimanding my daughter using words that came straight out of my mother’s mouth. I’ll spare you the embarrassing details of what I said, but suffice to say I’d sworn I’d never say it.
While I’ve experienced many instances of seeing flashes of my mother in myself as I’ve learned to parent my five–year-old daughter, there was something about the exactitude of my words and the delivery that caught me off guard. I wasn’t parroting my mother – in that moment, I was channeling her.
Ordinarily, something like this would make me smile, but last night I found myself tearing up a bit afterwards.
My mother died at age 59 several years ago after a tortuous battle with cancer. I have found myself a bit weepy around Mother’s Day ever since. Even when I got to celebrate my first Mother’s Day as a mom, the day was bittersweet – I was joyous over being able to claim the day as my own, but sad that my mother was not there to share the occasion with me.
This year, for some reason, I’m feeling weepier than usual. I think it’s because my daughter seems to have crossed that invisible line from toddler to kid and I can’t figure out where all the time went when I wasn’t looking. Not since my earliest days as a new mother do I have so many questions I wish I could ask my mother – “How did you prepare yourself for sending me to ‘real school’? How do I keep from screwing her up?”
When my husband and I were going through the process of adopting my daughter, I found myself praying constantly for my mother’s guidance. When I struggled with what it meant to adopt a child from China because her biological mother was likely forced to give her up due to the country’s ‘one child per family policy,’ I found myself imagining what my mother would say. I knew in my heart that she would tell me my new daughter needed me and it would all turn out all right.