My mom passed away a few weeks after I had my first child. This unfair twist of fate has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. To learn to live in the world without her has been incredibly hard.
An unexpected discovery of a Ziplock bag of letters, mostly written to me by my mom, from the first summer I went to camp, at age nine, until I graduated from college, changed everything. Twenty years after her death, re-reading these letters made me feel like I was conversing with her. I could feel her personality, “hear” her voice, and got a dose of her relevant and timely wisdom.
Mother/daughter relationships change over time
Since this experience, I’ve been thinking a lot about the mother-daughter relationship, the different seasons, and how it changes over time.
As a mom to two daughters, Zoe, 20, and Avi, 17. I have seen our relationships go through ups and downs, just as my relationship with my mom changed over the years.
When in high school and living at home, my mom and I often bickered about insignificant things. Sometimes I felt she was standing in my way and preventing me from doing what I wanted. I know my daughters have felt this same way.
After I left for college, my relationship with my mom changed. She was still my mom and mothered me, and there were topics I would only tell my girlfriends, but our relationship evolved into a beautiful friendship.
When I left home, my mom, and I grew closer
We weren’t living together, and this helped us grow closer. She wasn’t nagging me about “taking my stuff upstairs” or “cleaning my room.” Instead, my mom became a trusted friend I could turn to for advice, and I knew she always had my best interest at heart.
She didn’t tell me what to do, but her opinion greatly affected me. Sometimes, she turned to me for my opinion on a given topic, and I was more than happy to share my thoughts.
When I graduated from college, we became best friends. This probably would have continued as we both got older.
When I was younger, my mom was my mom, not my friend, and I tried to remind myself of this when I became a mom. I knew my daughters didn’t need another friend; they had plenty of those. Instead, they needed a mom.
They needed me to parent them, as hard as it was sometimes, at various seasons of their lives. Sometimes I felt the burden of this responsibility, knowing the impact of my decisions. As my daughters grow and mature, I imagine our relationships will become more like loving friendships. I can start to see this a little bit, and it’s something I cherish. Spending time together will always be a priority for me, and I hope for them.
The relationship between a mother and daughter is precious, sacred, and one I value with all my heart. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect or there won’t be ups and downs. Like most things in life, there are different seasons and challenges along the way.
It takes patience, respect, kindness, and work to grow and nurture the mother-daughter relationship. Remember this as you navigate your own relationship.
I am my mother’s daughter, just as Zoe and Avi are my daughters and my mother’s granddaughters, even though they never got to know each other. We are forever linked, one woman to another, one generation to the next. Our place in our family’s history is marked by the love we share, how we treat one another, what we pass on to future generations, and the lens of love we see.
I miss my mom every day
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my mom, and I will always miss her. The pain has lessened as I’ve learned to focus on the positive. When I feel like I need an extra dose of her wisdom or I miss her, I can reread one of the letters and feel closer to her.
I know she is forever with me, wrapping me in her love, whispering advice, and watching over me. I hear her words and her laughter. I remember her smile and the way she held my hand. She taught me to love and, most importantly, showed me how to be a mom.
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