Thursday, February 12, 2009

Petits Morceaux de Moi, Part II

I don't know exactly when my relationship with my mother jumped the rail and went completely off course, but it's been a bumpy ride for many years.

For several years this was a difficult relationship to cope with, but I've learned to take it for what it is....and for what it isn't. As I've grown and matured and realized that not only do I not have to blame my mother for things anymore, I also don't need her approval.

What I can't change, and neither can you, my friends, is that the DNA of
our parents is all neatly and nicely woven into ours. This is a fact that has often times made me cringe.

One day as I sat pondering the relationship between my mother and me, it suddenly occurred to me to ask myself how I thought my daughters felt about me. That is a really humbling question. What kind of mother have I been to my daughters? Will they be like me and run as far away from their mother as they can when they have the chance?

I don't know the answers to those questions completely yet. My oldest daughter turns twenty this month and has asked to come home for her birthday so I'm flying her here from Texas. Our relationship has been like a roller coaster since she was about three. I take heart in the fact that it is here that she wants to be on her birthday.

What I do know is the answer to the question of what kind of mother I will be to my grown children. I will be the type of mother that is happy when her children call and share their news with her. I will be the type of mother that shows up for special events in their lives. I will be the type of mother that not only accepts them for who they are, but loves them too.

So, this poem was difficult for me to write. There are a lot of things that my mother wasn't that I wish she would have been. But I also have to acknowledge that she managed, with incredibly few tools, to raise me to be a pretty decent human being. And, there's no denying that as I mature, I recognize those bits and pieces of DNA that I irrefutably inherited from her.

I hear the familiar laughter and turn to find her,
but she is not there.

I look in the mirror and see her eyes and ponder
if my maturing face will someday look like hers.

I cry tears of anguish thinking that I am a failure as a parent
and wonder if she cried those tears, too.

In selfish moments, I think myself the selfless martyr
and remember times when she truly was.

I used to scorn the thought that I might be like her in any way-
but I am beginning to understand that there is beauty in the likeness.

I can take her successes and failures and learn from both.
But I cannot change the laugh, the eyes, and the sense of humor that
occasionally embarrasses my children.

They are her legacy and her gift to me.

So, I will embrace them and find comfort in them,
and inevitably pass them on to my daughters-

hoping that they will accept their inheritance
with more gratitude and grace than I .

August 2000
(The month of my 32nd birthday. I must have been doing some reflecting!)


lakeviewer said...

You are doing some soul searching, all right. I think daughters have a long journey to find themselves and become independent.

If you talk to women, they all know this. It takes time, and patience and faith in the power of forgiveness.

Lovely poem, by the way.

Amy said...

Yes, so right. As much as I like to think myself independent sometimes, it's still an internal emotional struggle.

Thank you for your sweet comments.

Reya Mellicker said...

I love your poem! Wow!!

I'm not a mother myself, but I do believe that part of the relationship between parent and child has to do with the hardships of separation. Sometimes the separation is much needed, but it's still hard. After all, we were all part of our mother's body at one point in time.

Wonderful post, Amy. Thanks!