Every year on Mother’s Day Weekend, I write an entry about mothering. I used to blog daily – having first created this site in 2008 to get me through the tumultuous feeling of failure that is divorce.
Many of those posts included excerpts on mothering a teenage daughter; specifically, how to be a good role model to an up-and-coming-woman as you navigate singledom for the first time in decades. How to get out of bed every morning and work when you’d rather remain in the fetal position. How to say no to wrong suitors. How to clean the house. How to keep making dinner.
I knew enough to know to persist – that she needed me, even though as a teenager she pretended not to and would go down with the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria before ever admitting it. I also knew it was paramount to not lean on my daughter and strike up a “friendship” out of convenience and my own pain. Sure, could we have swapped dating stories and/or could I have shown her how to really party and avoid the cops in the process? Of course. I grew up in the 80’s and went to THE Ohio State University. High Street in Columbus is aptly named.
But I also knew enough to know that Dina and Lindsay Lohan were not paving sustainable relationship avenues. While every mom on the planet wants nothing more than to be liked and loved, seen and heard, valued and adored by their kids…getting that to happen at their transformative expense is a giant mistake.
Manipulation is selfish. Control is a facade. We can’t stop time. Every single kid is going to grow up someday and turn out not only to be just fine (in the main), but also, a discerning adult. They will remember. They will question. And, if they are smart – they will come back.
When my only child was a senior in high school, I knew what was around the bend. I stockpiled oversized Bed Bath and Beyond coupons and shopped at that place like her four-year degree and entire subsequent life depended on it. She has to have a hope chest, I mean, HOPE…she needs HOPE! She can put all of her memories in here and maybe extra washcloths and an umbrella and…
And then I stopped. In the aisle. In the middle of a home goods store where the agonizing irony hit me: my baby girl was leaving home.
Did I do a good job? Will she be safe? Will she remember me? Will she still love me if she ever comes back?
Oddly enough, it wasn’t the first time in our collective mother-daughter life I asked those exact questions. The first time was sixteen years prior, when she was two and I was in the fetal position after just having heard the words, “you have leukemia, there is no cure.”
Did I do a good job? Will she be safe? Will she remember me? Will she still love me if I never come back?
What I didn’t know – what NONE of us know – is how to deal with unknown outcomes. What are we supposed to do when a situation we never saw coming and is completely out of our control arrives? How do we show up? How do we persist? How do we make decisions?
I write this blog today, twenty-one years later, from my basement home office in a different city from the one in which I resided when I received a cancer diagnosis. I have an entirely different career than the one I had for the last twenty-five years. I am (finally!) a published author after dabbling in writing and constantly spewing words. I am completely content.
But mostly, I am just – and always – Mom.
My adult daughter is rousing upstairs after working second shift yesterday. She lives here, at home, while putting her four-year degree in practice en route to deciding where she will attend grad school next year. It won’t be here, and that is okay. Because if we are smart, we will keep letting them go and grow for their transformative benefit. They come back.
On this Mother’s Day Weekend and all others, may you be reminded to trust the process. To keep showing up in the face and fear of the unknown. To be present in each moment of the journey, believing that the final destination for all of us is the same: HOME.
P.S. I answer some of those questions about how to deal with unplanned and uncontrollable situations in my book, Remorseless. You can order a signed copy on this site or HERE.