Ironically though, she had an affinity for 4-H and would take vacation time the week of the county fair, diligently worked her shift and then some in the 4-H building, transporting us back and forth. Plus, she didn't skimp on hosting our turn for the monthly 4-H meeting, serving hot dogs, chips, lemonade, brownies and cookies after the meetings. She also loved to go to the summer 4-H softball games. I grew into adult hood and she became an empty nester finally after 38 years of parenting. She ended up being a pretty invested grandma, much more so than I remember as a mother, to my and my sisters kids. She came to all their activities including concerts, sporting events, grandparent days, and while still healthy, loved to babysit. It will be seven years come November since she passed away.
My relationship with my daughters is very different. I don't know if that means it is a better relationship, but is very different. I prioritize being mentally available for my kids, ready if they need to bounce ideas off, have sad days and need consoling, opportunities that they need to talk through to make choices from, and to know they have my unconditional support. Some might accuse me of helicoptering, but I don't think so. I just want them to know they can come to me with anything. Believe me, I did not go to my mom if I was having social or school issues-if anyone, and this was rare, I was more likely to go to my next older sister, who was only three years older than me. She herself was a mix of caring older sister and teenage bully at the time, so I picked carefully what angst I might share with her. Still, despite not having a close touchy feely relationship with my mom, or really anyone in my family growing up, I had an OK childhood, most likely from my intentional emotional distance.
I try hard to separate the boundaries of parent and friend, though I think my girls see me as at least relatable when we spend time together and we have many similar interests. I'm not a big fan of the mom style of trying to be the cool mom, the mom who insists they are their daughters best friend. They have their own and I have my friends. We can enjoy our time and conversations and being mother and daughters, but there is a difference. While I think my mom started seeing us kids as a burden to get through, at least until we graduated high school, I am regularly in awe that I am a mother. I have no expectations of my adult children, though hold wishes that they will choose to keep me an active part of their life. My own mom put a lot of guilt on us in her last couple years. Depression, that probably was undiagnosed but present most of her life, manifested in blatant jealousy of the other side of our family's. Interestingly, the guilt seemed to be saved for just us four youngest, the ones that received so little of her emotional energy growing up, where as the older ones seemed to get a pass to come and go AWOL for weeks on end.
I am not sure what stirred all this up with me to the point of writing about it. My mom wasn't Mommy Dearest, and I'm no Carol Brady. I am sure we were not so different than other mom-daughters from large families. Perhaps it was hanging with my sisters, the four youngest, the other night, and a few old memories popped up in conversation. It might be stirring as DH takes on more help for his gradually becoming less independent mom. Perhaps with my youngest daughters new found independence as a driver, starting to plan her post high school life, I am feeling a mix of nostalgia with a heavy dose of reality. Whatever stirred these emotions, we can't change the past, but we can hopefully reflect and learn from it. I'll end by saying how much I love all my kids, and I really love my relationship with my daughters right now and hope to keep it this way.
|An old selfie of me and my girls from Mothers Day 2015.|