I remember, at nine years old, making a cake for my mom for her 30th birthday. There is a picture of it somewhere. I was so very, very proud of it. I remember a few things about that day: 30 seemed so very, very far away, I was giddy with pride over my creation and though I can picture it perfectly in my mind’s eye (so I am certain when I tell you it was a disaster), my mother treated it as though it had been made of the finest ingredients (not from a box) and crafted by a baker with the most perfect of pedigrees. (it hadn’t) I never suspected she was choking the cake down, though she may have been…..and her smile was anything but false.
This was and still is the treasure of my mother…. a trait I now recognize as explicitly glorious: she has a gift for seeing the beauty in the moment, for living in the present – especially when it came to time with her children.
I remember that my mom always smelled like Oil of Olay. She was a dynamite swimmer and gymnast. She made family dinnertime fun. She loved chocolate and being outside in the sun. Her greatest wish was to be at home every day when my brother and I came home from school and though that wasn’t always possible, she was my first living model of a mother who worked to take care of her family, but never stopped being both present and a source of love and affection.
She and I share many qualities: a soft heart, a cry-too-easily-gene, and a love of all kinds of books and movies. We also have a strong friendship. I always knew we both attributed our bond, in large part, to the fact that she had me one week after her 21st birthday. She and my dad believed that they were always still young enough to remember being ‘our age’ – whatever age that happened to be at the time. So, as I hit my 20’s, I was initially distraught that I wouldn’t become a mother any time soon. As I approached 30, I wondered if I would be half the mother she was to me.
I need not have worried.
I had the very best of teachers.
While I know I still have many years of motherhood ahead of me, and I know I still have many years for my relationship with both my children to develop, I am especially grateful to my mother, not only for her kind and gentle heart, for always choosing to be there to listen, but especially for providing me with the example of what it means to create a good relationship with your children, with your daughter. I am aware the teen years are a few years in my future (and I am afraid!) but know that I am well-equipped.
So, friends, today, in honor of my mom’s birthday, these are my five wishes for mothers and daughters.
- For the many times my mom indulged a tea party when she would have preferred playing a sport with me (and the times I now do the opposite) I wish you the spirit to find joy in what puts a smile on each other’s face.
- For all of the times my mom found the time to listen to me, despite a long day, a packed schedule, and other family and friends who needed her attention, I wish you the ability to make time for each other and the opportunity to truly listen.
- For all the times my mom chose to hug me through the challenges of pre-teen years, of teenage years and beyond, I wish you both patience and an affection for each other.
- For all the times my mom wanted to be my friend, but knew in her heart of hearts her job that day was to be my mom (as hard as it was), I wish you the strength to make the hard choices and to accept the hard love as it comes.
- For all the times my mom had to let me go and let me grow – knowing I needed to make my own decisions – even if it meant heartache or failure, I wish you faith in each other and gratitude for the relentless support.
Mum….Happy Birthday. I wish you the most beautiful of days. I have never stopped learning from you.
Thank you. I love you.
What lessons have you learned from your mother? What wishes do you have for your future self?