I used to climb into my mom’s bed and hand her my little green library copy of “Jemima Puddleduck” early in the mornings and make her read it to me over and over again. My mom used to take me to the department stores, stand me up in the parking lot when she realized I hadn’t really washed my face like I told her, lick a finger and wipe away the juice that stained my face. My mom used to take me to the park and let me gawk at the same peacock and ducks I gawked at the previous weekend and the weekends before that.
Those were my fondest memories of my mother for a long time. Somewhere between those early years and adulthood, though, I loosened my grip on her hand and we lost each other. Sure, we were living in the same house and going to church together every Sunday. And yes, we sat down to dinner together some nights. But a disconnect happened somewhere around the sixth grade and grew through my early twenties. It grew to the point that our words were painfully few. We did not know each other anymore. We did not play. We stopped going to parks and she did not read to me anymore. I did not care about her life and she seemed not to care too much about mine. I waited for the day I could move out and leave her behind because there was no love here anymore. Fine.
The factors leading to our separation were many, fear of judgment being chief among them. Growing up in a severely judgmental family will turn recluse even the most outgoing person if they have no outlet. I was headed toward seclusion even away from my mother as result and she threw up her hands, tired of trying to figure me out. We barely spoke. Laughter between us was almost nonexistent. We were broken. Badly.
It would take a series of scary and painful events to get us back to one another. My mother undergoing major surgery to save her life last year, would be the first. Instead of running away from her, I forgot any misunderstandings of the past and wanted nothing but to care for her during her three-month recovery. During that time, my mom realized she could trust me and I rediscovered her capacity to be soft and understanding.
Since that time, the growth in our relationship, not just as mother and daughter but as friend and confidant has been staggering. There was a time when I knew so little about my own mother that birthdays and Mother’s Days were a chore because I had no idea what she liked, what excited her, and what would make her smile. There was a time when she would never disclose details about her humble upbringing for fear that I would judge her or think less of her. There was a time when I was afraid to be honest with my mother about my dreams, fears and screws ups because it seemed she perpetually wore a scowl.
That was then.
It took almost losing her January 2012 for me to really open up and understand just how important communication is on both sides in order to make a mother/daughter relationship work. It took a little more reaching out on my part when she was down, a little more listening on her part when I had difficult choices to make – to cultivate a bond that had been malnourished for so long.
Life is too short for missed opportunities, cold shoulders and misplaced anger when it comes to our mothers. No they are not perfect, as we are not either, but that bond is sacred. Seek it out if it has been lost in the shuffle of everyday life. Unfold it from the back corners of your heart. Be the catalyst for strengthening what was weak if you can be. I know that without my mother, I would never see the world the way I do. I wouldn’t know inspiration like I do. I wouldn’t laugh as frequently as I do. And I wouldn’t know the amazing feeling of redeemed relationship with such clarity and gratitude.
It took a near-death experience to bring my mother and I back together but it does not always have to be that way. Years of lost time in a relationship with my mother has taught me, no matter what has happened or how much time has gone by, there is nothing so far gone that God cannot restore.
Peace to all the mothers who have birthed generations.
Peace to their daughters who carry with them lessons learned and ones waiting to be learned.
Peace to my mother who, daily, provides an example of an ordinary woman allowing God to use her for extraordinary things.
May we all find our way together.
La Truly seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change. Follow her on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.