“I see in my eyes and my aging grace a face that grows only more familiar. I am my mother. No other.” ~Momma Zen
When I read these words in a book given to me by my sister-in-law, I had to just nod and smile. You may not be close with your mom (I am), you might not talk to her every day (I do), you might not even look like her (I can’t deny it), but you are her, nothing is truer. It doesn’t mean you act the way she did (maybe you act the way she didn’t), it doesn’t mean you will embarrass your children the same way she did to you (but you totally will). It just means that in us, whether we are ourselves mothers or not, is her.
When the baby was born, my mom was there. Not literally at the foot of the bed, but she was just outside the door, waiting for her firstborn to have her firstborn. Before the baby was born, I was glad she’d be there for this momentous life change. On all the practical levels, I knew she would be helpful beyond belief. I knew she’d care for the dogs, vacuum obsessively, feed us, do our washing, the works. I knew she’d hold the baby and help with diapers and inform the family of our news.
What I didn’t know was what her presence would mean in a more abstract way. I felt more confident having her there, I felt less overwhelmed, I felt loved. Before our baby even entered the world, I knew she would be adored by us and many others. But in the vulnerable weeks that followed her birth, I needed to be reminded that I was once also the object of such adoration. That while my job is to care for my baby, I am still her baby.
By the time my mom had me, her mother was gone. And while I always sensed the depth of my mom’s loss, I could never fully appreciate the way she must have missed what she never had until the birth of my own daughter.
My mom is a wonderful mother, ask anyone (except her). She did her best while we were under her roof, has loved us fiercely since before we can remember, guided us when she could, stood back, and let us go. Despite geography, we’ve never gone far. We love her so much.
Seeing this living example bolsters my confidence. I will be a good mother, too. I won’t be perfect, but I’ll do the loving, the helping, the letting go, the best I can. I’ll continue to lean on her as long as she’ll let me (she’ll always let me), and I’ll gain confidence in my own abilities (in fact I already have) when I look at myself through her eyes.
Now that I know what I know, feel what I feel, I can’t help but be MORE awestruck by my own mother. Not only did she do what she did, do what she continues to do, she did it and does it without her own mother to lean on. With only memories of her childhood and guesses as to what her mother would have been as a grandmother to her girls, she brought two newborns home and raised them into women.