Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mothers and Daughters

When I was eight years old I experienced a serious disconnect from my mother. Serious as in - change the choices I made as an adolescent, send me to therapy for years, kind of serious. My mom became very ill and worsened to the point that she was on death's door for the better part of that year. She spent most of the year in the hospital where I was only allowed to visit once (because everyone back then knew that kids have cooties that will surely usher the feeble and sick on into Glory) and only then when my father disguised me as a patient and snuck me into her room. He was in fact sure it might be the last time I would see my mother and so we went covert, Vietnam style baby.

At one low point when my mother was actually home "recovering" twenty miles from the nearest hospital, I witnessed her unconscious, lying in a deep pool of her own blood. Family screaming, panic palpable. In retrospect I think that was the moment the disconnect occurred. See in all my eight year old wisdom I knew that I was losing my mother, and I also knew that it hurt like hell. My solution, just don't love her anymore - or at least don't get too close, and then my dear- problem solved - you don't ever have to hurt again. My story has a happy ending. My mother slowly recovered and at nineteen I finally recognized the unconscious decision I had made at eight and decided to reconnect. I am happy to say we managed to reconnect quite successfully (my husband might even say too successfully).

I share this here because the other day my daughter confided something in me that almost made my heart explode with happiness. She said she was talking to a girl in her class at school who is "dating" (my daughter is eight - thus the irony). Anyhoo, she was explaining to this classmate that she didn't date yet when her friend volunteered this information : "Oh you can date whenever you want as long as your parents don't find out." My daughters reply? Well that's what made my heart burst. She said, "Are you kidding? My mom and I can talk about anything. I wouldn't ruin that for the world!" The little girl seemed shocked and conceded that she did not feel she could tell her mom "anything".

I will be the first to admit, I have more days as a parent when I mess it up than when I get it right. But I have spent more than a few hours stretched across my daughters bed allowing her to spill her guts and ask me the most embarrassing of questions (at least embarrassing for me). These are not always convenient times for me. These aren't scheduled talks. These are, "mom I need to talk to you and I want to do it right now" kinda moments. I have two thoughts on this :1) I never want to miss an opportunity to hear my kids hearts - I mean come on, parenting is hard enough as it is and if the only gauge I have on their emotional and spiritual health is their heart, I had better pay attention. 2) I always want to be as honest as possible in our discussions. It is a subtle art telling the truth in a way that is appropriate to your child's age. I have been asked things I never thought I would be asked by a six, or seven, or eight year old. I take long pauses to think about how best to frame the truth they seek. But I don't lie. I don't tell them babies come from heaven or kissing. And I don't shut them down - "We don't talk about that," or "We'll talk about that when you are older,". Listen my theory is if they are asking then they are thinking. I would much rather them know the truth and our family's values on the matter versus allowing them to hear all kinds of cock-a-mamy ideas from their peers (which for the record - my kids have shared some of the ideas they have heard and there are some crazy ones).

So I celebrate healing today. Healing between mothers and daughters. I pray that though our relationship will evolve and change, my daughter will always feel like she can tell her momma anything!


Cindy said...

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing, you wonderful mother, you!! May every child have a mother as centered, open, honest, caring and attentive as you!!

ajnabi said...

That's quite the glowing testimonial from T-bear. Love her, love you. :-)

angela said...

Thats so sweet!!