My mother turns 63 today. I just turned 35. We’re 28 years apart. I have come to understand and accept, that in many ways, I AM my mother and she is me. My fierce, fearless, diva mama … is me (I like that idea). It’s interesting that she apparently doesn’t see herself as fierce and fearless, she sees a woman dealing with life … I see a woman who stands, who always stands … in the face of whatever… an effortlessly beautiful woman … a woman who I must obey regardless of my feelings on the matter.
In the past year, our lives have changed drastically; she’s moved countries to be closer to me (and my now 2 year old). So I see her everyday, where I saw her less than once a year previously. Our long-distance relationship started when I moved from Nigeria to these United States at 18… and when I was 34, my mother relocated too. We basically have 17 years of catching up to do. As with most women, I have ideas about who my mother is and why she does the things she does. For some reason, I thought I changed and grew, and I expected her to stay the same. In her presence, I found myself reverting to a teenager who “didn’t have a choice”, instead of a 34 year old physician and life coach who enjoys her life and has made peace with old struggles (she knows all my buttons, but she’s apparently unaware of this).
My mother’s changed; she’s softer, gentler, quieter. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still a fire cracker – and she says things to my 2 year old that I’m certain no other grandmother anywhere in the world would say; but still, gentler.
I catch myself “knowing what she MUST be thinking” frequently, but I’m realizing that I haven’t caught up with the new “mom,” I knew the entrepreneur mother that was often busier than my physician father, that always had a joke, a funny story about something … or someone (that someone being me more often than I liked).
In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “The only sensible person is my tailor. He measures me anew each time he sees me.” I am letting go of all the notions I had made up about my mother, I am asking questions instead of assuming … I am growing … to know her, to know me … I HAVE accepted that I don’t know what she’s thinking … and I’m enjoying getting to know her.
Lessons I’ve learned in building an adult relationship with my mother;
1. We are ALL growing and changing everyday. I’m figuring out life in my 30’s, she’s figuring out life in her 60’s. We’re both in new territory, we’re both adapting to new places … she hasn’t figured it all out either.
2. It helps to lean into vulnerability; it’s where connection happens, it’s where souls meet and unite. It’s EASIER to run away from it, but it’s so beautiful to go there.
3. Sometimes, it IS me. Sometimes, a comment is just a comment, with no deeper meaning. And I can laugh at me …because it’s not such a big deal.
4. Know your people. In Brene’ Brown’s Daring way work, she talks about identifying your support people – but beyond that knowing HOW they support you. So it’s not enough that my mother is my support person simply because she gave birth to me, but that she supports me by praying for me and with me, she listens and HEARS me and she loves my daughter without holding back.
5. Having Mrs. A as MY mother – is truly one of the greatest blessings of my life. Because we lead by example, and as I said, she’s fearless! (Ok the grown up part of me knows that no one’s truly fearless, but she stands straight, looks fear in the face and keeps on trucking!)