My Mom Is A Woman, Too
When I was in college I longed to have the cool mom. I’d daydream about having a mom that would wear the latest fashions and would hang out with me like she was one of my girlfriends. She’d be so cool and laid back that I’d feel comfortable talking with her about anything– even sex and men. My reality mom was far different from this fantasy. My mom was a mom to be obeyed and never questioned. She was a mom who loved and gave all she had freely, but demanded and commanded respect. She made it clear that we were not peers. Mama had all authority and she expected all your responses to be “yes, ma’am.”
When I think about it, giving respect and reverence are the only ways that I’ve ever known how to relate to my mother. All my life she’s been a strong, dominating figure. As a stay-at-home mom of five kids, my mother spent my childhood days managing her noisy household and strategizing ways to maximize my dad’s paychecks so that all the household needs were met. She was the strong general, and her children were the foot soldiers completing household tasks and homework as ordered. When I was 15, my father died leaving my mother to raise the five of us ranging in age from 6 to 15. During those challenging years after my father’s death, I saw my mother display more strength, courage and fortitude than I knew was possible. There was never time to get know my mother as a real flesh and blood woman; there was only time to listen and obey.
But now that I’m grown and a mother myself, things have changed somewhat. First of all, I’ve changed. When my daughter was a baby, I’d find myself seeking parenting advice and even approval from my mother. I’d want to make sure that I diapered the baby the way that she would do it or burp the baby the way mom suggested. But then a strange thing happened. I began to come into my own as a mother and as a woman. I’d take my mother’s suggestions with a grain of salt – incorporating them if they fit my needs and tossing them out when they didn’t. It was a milestone for me. It was the first time that I began to value my thoughts, feelings and actions more than I valued my mother’s wishes.
And my mother began to change, too. She slowly began to recognize that I was woman and a mother – not just her daughter. As she watched me parent my child she began to realize that I was capable of taking care of myself, my child and my family without her input. Seeing that I had it all under control, she began to mellow out. Her strong maternal exterior crumbled and she became a new person – a loving grandma and a relaxed woman.
I like this new mama and I love the new daughter that I’ve become. While my mother and I don’t relate as if we’re peers, we have an easy relationship now. We laugh and joke. I voice my opinions about her life choices and even give her advice. We can cry together and comfort each other. We even talk to each other about “adult” subjects (within reason, of course). I’ve learned how much fun my mother can be, and I now understand why she had to be so strong over the years. I still revere her enough to say “yes, ma’am.” But I know her enough to know that behind her strong maternal façade is a flesh and blood woman – just like me.
How do you relate to your mom as an adult?
Yolanda Darville is a Type-A American wife, mom and freelance writer learning to navigate the easy going island life in Nassau, Bahamas. Connect with her on Twitter.