Letters to Moms and Daughters for Mother's Day
A World of Women
I am a daughter, and I am the mother of daughters. Growing up, I felt constantly critical of my mother and the job she did raising us. She was too strict. She was too disconnected. She was too much in my business. She was too distant. She was never the mother I wanted her to be. It didn't matter what she did or didn't do, she couldn't win in the eyes of her teenage daughter.
I couldn't wait to grow up and do everything right. I'd show her and everyone else just how things should be done.
Then, I had children of my own. I didn't have just one or two, no, I took motherhood to a whole new level. I have eight children and five daughters. It took a while, but by the time my oldest reached her teen years, I tearfully called my mom and apologized for everything. I realized then how hard it is to be a mom.
To My Mom
I'd like to start by saying I am so sorry. I am sorry for all the times I was embarrassed by you. I remember you telling me about when you were embarrassed by your mom because she didn't shave behind her knees. I rolled my eyes when you told me that, thinking it would be the least of my problems.
The thing is, I couldn't say it then, but I proudly say it now. I was always proud of you. My friends all thought you were cool. I hated that. I always told them that you were not cool. I even remember in middle school, one of the popular kids asking me why I couldn't be as cool as my mom. Not only did I get mad, but I was embarrassed that even my mom was cooler than me. But, inside, where no one could see, I was proud of how cool you were (and still are.)
I secretly thought you were beautiful. I remember looking at you, hoping that I could have your beautiful legs, your engaging smile, your fun laugh. There were times when I thought you looked like a movie star. Breathtaking beauty surrounded your aura, and I could see men enthralled by you. Not only were your suitors captivated, but so too, I. I hoped beyond hope that I could grow up beautiful and sophisticated like you.
I would never admit it out loud then, but I proudly say it now. I admire you. I didn't only envy your beauty, but also your strength. You are one of the strongest women I've ever known. You are brave. You are brilliant. And, you never give up. You didn't give up on yourself, and you didn't give up on me.
You didn't give up on me when I was a terrible brat. You didn't give up on me when I got pregnant in high school. You didn't give up on me during the twenty long years I spent being abused. You stood beside me, sometimes quietly and unobtrusively, watching and ready to rescue me if I needed it. Through all those years, all those children, and all those trials, you always believed in me. You believe in me still, even when I give up on myself. No matter what stupid mistakes I make repeatedly, no matter how many dumb decisions I make, or crazy ideas I have, you are always there, to encourage and support me, even if you don't agree.
I admire your intelligence. You are smart and wise. I know you gave up your dreams of being a pharmacist when I came along. I can't imagine all the dreams you actually gave up just for me and because of me, but I am glad you are my mom. I always remember you reading. And thinking. I could never pull the wool over your eyes. You said it's because I'm a terrible liar, but I think the truth is you're a lot smarter and more cunning than I am. You figure things out long before I do. When I come up with the next crazy idea, you always laugh and encourage me to give it a try. You remind me that my head is in the clouds, and to keep my feet on the ground, but you always encourage me to follow my dreams.
I believe in myself because of who you are. I see all the things you've gone through in your life, and I realize that you have done so much. And it inspires me to be better, to try harder and to make you proud. Always in the back of my mind is the thought that I want to make you proud, mom. Everything I do, I think of you, and I hope that you will be proud of me.
There have been many difficult and painful moments, not only for me but for you, over the last fifty years. Through it all, you have always been there. You are the one person who has always been in my life, every day since I was born.
I can't imagine how terribly I treated you when I was young, and how smug I was when I became a mom. I can't apologize enough for thinking that I could do life better than you. Lots of experience has shown me that, just like I do now, you've always done the best you knew how.
You didn't set out to make life hard. You intended to be the best mom and best person you could, given the circumstances you faced at the time. If you had asked when I was growing up, I would have emphatically responded that you were absolutely trying to ruin my life. I believed then that you deliberately tried to do things to make me miserable.
I know now that being a parent is hard. You do the best you can with the tools you have. You make difficult decisions, hoping to protect and nurture your children. And sometimes, life goes in unpredictable directions. Sometimes things take an unexpected turn. Sometimes things go bad in huge, unexpected ways.
Through all those experiences, you have loved me, supported me, and encouraged me to be the best I can be.
Thank you, Mom. I love you.
My DaughtersClick thumbnail to view full-size
To My Girls
To My Wonderful Daughters,
I had no idea that I would ever be a mom. And I never expected to have eight children. And I had no idea what a blessing you would be to my life.
Each one of you has followed a unique and beautiful path. Each of you started out as a beautiful baby, then went through the terrible toddler years, to become wonderful young daughters. And then you hit the teen years, far worse than anything a toddler could bring. You pushed, challenged, and argued every limit and boundary I tried to create.
You questioned rules, pushed against my expectations, and excelled beyond anything I could have imagined. I had ideas about where you would go and what you would do, but you each surpassed any notion I had of who you really are.
I remember one heated exchange in particular when my notion of being in charge exploded in my face. One of you and I were having a heated argument in the car. In fact, we were screaming at each other. I wanted you to do what I thought you should do. And you told me that I couldn't fulfill the desires for my own life through you. It was in that moment that I realized that each of you is a unique and beautiful woman, with a unique path. It doesn't matter what I think or what I want, you are free to express the fullness of who you truly are. This has been terrifying and exhilarating for me as your mom. I have to stand back and let you fly, without controlling what happens after you take off.
I love you more than you could ever know. I am proud of you, and amazed by you, and jealous of each of you, for many different reasons. You are smart, beautiful, funny, strong, and brave. All this, in spite of me.
I am proud of who you are. I am honored to be your mom. And I love you.
Advice for Moms and Daughters
Whether you are a mom or a daughter, there are some things to keep in mind as you travel through your life.
Your mom did the best she could at the time, given her skills and resources at the time. No mom sets out to ruin their kid's lives. Mom's do the best they know how. We do what we think is best for you, and we want to protect you and help you fulfill the fullness of who you truly are. Moms want their daughters to rise far above where they ever reached. We want you to excel, to be more and better than we are.
Moms, your daughters are not trying to ruin your life. They aren't trying to be difficult. Life is difficult. Your daughters look to you as an example. Sometimes you offer an example for them to follow. Sometimes, you offer an example of what not to do. Either way, your daughters learn from you.
Show your mom and your daughters you love them. Tell them often. Life is short, and nothing is more important than sharing love with the people around you. Love your mom. Love your daughters. And try to have fun as the process of life unfolds before you.
© 2018 Deborah Demander Reno