I’ve got to admit it. Even though I know I am not alone in being a motherless daughter at this stage of my life, whenever I encounter a lady around my age who talks about spending time with her mom, a pang of envy comes over me.
My mom was still in her 60s when she passed away from post-operative complications of heart surgery. My now nearly 25-year old daughter was only eleven years old at the time, now able to remember only bits and pieces about special times with her “yiayia.”
Recalling the countless times when Mom rallied to my side to help me pack, clean up my old place and set up my new one throughout both my single and married years, I was struck with a sense of pride in the tradition of mother-daughter bonding she left behind for me to emulate.
In supporting my daughter Sophia with her own transition this past weekend, I know that if I had not kept constantly busy with doing important tasks – such as helping her make lists, emptying boxes, finding logical places in her new apartment for her belongings, piling up giveaways and throw-away items and sorting laundry – I would no doubt have sat down and had a good cry.
The road leading to the kind of relationship my daughter and I have has not always been strewn with flowers, especially during her early teens. Having only one child, I constantly questioned my parenting skills, wondering just what chaos I might have wreaked on her later life.
And as she reached her 20s, I am certain the grey hair that I now so regularly mask became more abundant knowing of the risks she took. The bond of which I speak is examined in depth in the book, Friends for Life: Enriching the Bond between Mothers and Their Adult Daughters, by authors Susan Jones and Marilyn Nissenson. The book’s description includes words to which I can relate: “There is a razor-fine line between dispensing advice and nagging, between expectations and unconditional support, and the authors argue that recognizing these boundaries is essential to a healthy and loving relationship with a daughter.”
To my delight (and as an answer to my prayers) Sophia is now a busy and successful businesswoman, blowing my hair back with the kind of commitment and creativity I somehow knew lay deep within her.
Whenever we spend one-on-one time together, especially when attacking projects such as these, I am reminded of my daughter’s adolescent days, when “picking up” her clothes meant seeing everything piled on her bedroom floor suddenly being jettisoned down the laundry chute, followed by a quick, “I’m finished. Can I go now?”
Sophia’s newfound domesticity is a breath of fresh air after having seen her living environment take a backseat for so many years. With a penchant to mix the traditional with the new, she excitedly talks about her plans for a big IKEA run to buy things for her apartment along with the pride she takes in two little 1970s-style contemporary loveseats she displays in her living room once belonging to her grandmother.
And so life comes full circle. I can’t imagine the joy I will experience if someday I am blessed with a grandchild or two, with fond memories of how my mother again flew to my side to help me with young motherhood.
In the end, the one-liner that seems to creep out of me whenever my daughter exclaims her awe in my commitment to help at times like these is always the same: “I’m doing this because my mom did it for me. And maybe someday, if you are lucky enough to have a little girl, perhaps you’ll do the same for her.”