Mother-Daughter: It’s Complicated

I have been reflecting the past few weeks on, around, about, Mother’s Day. It’s complicated and isn’t that just what life is like…. COMPLICATED! Anyone who knows anything about me knows I adore my mother and I know in by bones, gut, and soul she adores me.  She and I both will tell you that adoration was not always a part of our relationship and that, my friends, is the hard truth. We don’t always like those we are caring for…. having to raise up.

Her version of the story involves the purchase of the original and wildly famous James Dobson book The Strong-Willed Child. It’s hard to hear some of the memories she recounts about my “strong-willed” otherwise deplorable behavior. To no surprise to some of you, at the young lovable (wink) age of 3, I was trying to be the parent. As you can imagine that did not work well. My mother was fun-loving, care-free, and loved to play. From my perspective, she lacked focus, overcommitted to life, and loved to take risks.

My God given personality was serious, cautious and Mama says I looked on the world with great pause and uncertainty. Who had played this not so funny joke on us? Surely, I was mixed up in the nursery. Honestly, I cannot deny the genetics of my Daddy! So, there we were, mother and child, utterly confused by each other…. resisting each other…. expecting of each other what we could not give at the time and a boatload of life lessons to follow. As a toddler, I said some hurtful things to my mother. I don’t remember them, but I know those were hard days for her.

Fast forward to good ole school days and there were more experiences of questioning was this lady really my mother? Had I been swapped at birth? Is she an alien? Gracious day my mother was a school child’s worst nightmare. From forgetting me at school on multiple occasions, pulling up in the bus line instead of the car line, riding her bike to drop off items at the school with some crazy head accessory to boot, prioritizing the misfits in life, yet still demanding excellence it was indeed a wild ride! Some of my friends have even had the joy of being picked up in a 12-passenger van in the wrong pick-up line. Geez the humiliation! I tell my children ALL the time they don’t know embarrassment! And by the way she still rides her bike, drives her van (unless she has given up driving for Lent), and includes ALL around her table! And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Somewhere along the way my mother began to do the inner work I so often write about. The work is hard, messy, AND absolutely worth it! She began to accept me for my gifts and abilities and as she was doing the work, I also was working on myself. A lot of my own work comes from watching my mother dive into her best-self. We have apologized along the way for not understanding each other…Mama wanted me to be carefree and take all kinds of risks….and I wanted her to follow the rules and get in the CORRECT line for goodness sake! From time to time it is still a push and pull but we don’t resist each other as often…in fact we are delighted by what each of us brings to the table.

We laugh, we love, we challenge, we affirm, we get irritated and tired, we apologize, we set boundaries, we express expectations, and we hold space for what each brings to the table. I don’t know where you are in your relationship with your mother or with others in your life but know that you can do the inner work to make sure you are showing up fully who you are meant to be.

Mama, I am beyond grateful for your playful, carefree, fun-loving, open arms, affirming, creative, life-giving self! My heart is so very full, and I know without a doubt we were meant to be…. mother and daughter!




1 thought on “Mother-Daughter: It’s Complicated”

  1. While I know this about you and your mom, I still love the reminders. I remember when she would volunteer in elementary Sunday school and say let the young parents go to their Sunday school. I had so much respect and love for that! And I got caught at giving up driving for lent. I would like to do that!

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