Most women share a common source when it comes to learning what it means to be a woman – our mothers. In some cases, we learn by example; in others, we get a cautionary tale. But all in all, I don’t think there’s anyone who has more of an impact on how we are shaped than our mothers.
I look like my father. Same eyes, nose, chin, and mouth. Same sinuses. (Thanks, Daddy.) Robert E. used to like to say I was created in his image. But there were times when he’d look at me, shake his head, and say, “How can anyone who looks so much like me, act so much like her?” My mother and I shared the same sort of no BS, straight-to-the point attitude toward life. And we weren’t shy about expressing our opinions – popular or not.
Last February, one of my best friends and I lost our mothers within days of one another. Julie’s loss of her mother, Joyce, was shocking and untimely.
Julie and her mom were best friends. They told one another everything, hung out like girlfriends, and were squarely by each other’s side at every twist and turn. They were pals. Just like Lorelai and Rory…the early days.
After suffering debilitating strokes and all the accompanying complications, my mother’s passing was one of those heart-breaking blessings.
Suzanne and I were not like Julie and Joyce, or even Lorelai and Rory. There was definitely more of an Emily and Lorelai vibe, minus the overt animosity.
We didn’t talk about anything personal, if we could help it. But that didn’t mean we didn’t love each other. In a weird way, it was just the opposite. Mostly we kept quiet to protect one another from being confronted with things we did not need or want to know. Things that would worry, upset, or hurt the other.
I don’t think people ever quite get over losing a parent. We lost my dad 19 years ago, and I know we all still miss him deeply. But mothers and daughters…there’s no human relationship more complex, more fraught with pitfalls and packed with joy, than the constant push-me-pull-you that goes on between mothers and daughters.
No matter how old we are, we will always, ALWAYS, have moment when we wish we could call mom and ask her what to do. It doesn’t matter if nine times out of ten we went out and did the exact opposite of what she advised. That’s what makes the mother-daughter dynamic the relationship most worthy of ‘It’s Complicated’ status, in my opinion.
Soon, Jewels and I will pass the one year mark since that god-awful week. Since then, I’ve had no less that four other girlfriends lose their mothers as well. Each time, my heart ached.
For all the things we didn’t get a chance to ask and all the news we didn’t get to share.
Or not share.
You know, for their own good.