The Mother Years


Tying my pink, satin robe in my kitchen this morning in my 29th year, closer now to being a mother than a maiden, I realize how much children, and young girls, especially, romanticize their mothers. Mothers are their feminine ideal in a way, the first example of what a grown woman is and should be. It’s just a few days before my mother’s 56th birthday, and something beyond that has me thinking about her today…

We don’t always become our mothers, though characteristics of them are surely in us. I think about what form of the feminine I will exhibit for my children. What will they admire in me? What will they idolize if anything? Inevitably, what will they abuse me for being? What will incite their scorn and derision, however openly or secretly they keep it? For I am guilty of these harborings, too, with my own mother. The real thing never quite lives up to your childhood ideal. I have committed another transgression, too, that goes beyond my feminist beliefs:  I have defined myself through my children, my future children, at that.

What kind of a woman am I? …Tying a pink, satin robe alone in her city apartment. Writing, thinking, drinking coffee, cherishing this time alone to be and think, to be and think. How will they see me?—a contradiction of common feminine trappings and accoutrements, prone to hair clips and lace, handkerchiefs and bubble baths, while also having lived the sordid history of a rock ‘n’ roll truck driver.

I believe therein lies the rub. Your children, or anyone, for that matter will see in you what they like, what they project, or need, or don’t desire in themselves. The secrets of your life, the secret of your person remains your own. And I am the same in this way as my mom, whose essential secret to her life is as ultimately unknowable as any others’.

How another person sees my mom—as when one of my girlfriends met her the other day while we all drank wine together—gives me a glimpse of this deeper, more complex person. Outsiders of the family reveal shades of the ones who are most familiar to us. To me, she has been mom first, a woman second, and a person last. Those personas shift and break up some as we age… and as was revealed further through my friend, my mom is a person ultimately, too—and I’m lucky she’s a cool one, at that.


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