thinking about mother-daughter relationships

ReedWomenEver since I was little, I imagined myself as a mother of sons. I suppose growing up with 5 brothers and only one sister played into this. Perhaps it was influenced by my tomboy leanings, my love of sports, and my preference for playing with GIJoes over Barbie’s (though I had both). Whatever the reason, I was surprised when I was told, during my 2nd pregnancy, that I was going to have a girl.

I thought of all of the boxes of boys clothes in storage that I wouldn’t be able to use.

I thought of this expectation since my childhood that I would rear up a brood of boys.

I also thought about how my childhood self wanted six kids. Silly little me.

My husband and I talked long before having another kid about what size our family should be and we knew: two would be enough. Two would be perfect. And so I assumed that I would inform my childhood self that we would be raising two boys, not six.

But now we have pink clothes and hair bows and dresses.

And for weeks after Gabbi was born, I continued to make comments about how I wasn’t prepared to raise a girl because I didn’t want to raise a daughter like me.

Until one day I realized: this comment said A LOT about what I thought about my relationship with my mother.

As I said it in the past, I thought I was communicating faults about MYSELF and my shortcomings as a daughter. But you can’t talk about a relationship and only “blame” one person in it.

And that’s when I realized that it’s not true. At all. I really WOULD want to raise me because if my daughter and I had the same relationship that my mother and I have, I would love that.

My mom is incredible. People say that about their moms and I’m sure they have great women who raised them. But they don’t have my mom.

Mom taught me to love music. I begged and begged her to teach me violin when I was little. I was jealous that my younger sister could take her violin anywhere in the house to practice. I couldn’t take the baby grand piano up the stairs and into our room to work on my latest sonatina assignment. But Mom kept me at the piano, for 14 years, in spite of the violin-lessons-begging, or the constantly increasing demand from sports teams, and other time commitments. I remember practicing in the front room, Mom was doing dishes in the kitchen, and I couldn’t figure out the right note so I kept playing the run incorrectly. I knew it sounded wrong, but I was terrible at reading music. Eventually, Mom came to the rescue, shouting from the soapy sink: “It’s an A flat, sweetheart!” Oh. That sounded better.

Mom taught me to drive. She helped me get my license and I was off, a sophomore in high school, carpooling my siblings and friends to classes each day. But she wanted me to learn to drive a stick, too, so one afternoon, she got into my brother’s old Volvo with me and explained how it worked. We pulled away from the house, jerking and dying, starting again, until I screamed and cried, two short turns away from home, getting out of the car and walking back to the house. She drove the car back home. Years later, I remembered her lessons as I sat in my friend, Byr’s, little Hyundai, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and she had me drive her stick. Oh. I already knew all this. I remembered from Mom. But I didn’t yell at Byr. Because she wasn’t my mom.

Mom taught me to love reading. I devoured books as a kid. When I came down with mono and spent a month home in fourth grade, I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia sitting in the branches of the chestnut tree. I learned to love reading because I saw Mom reading all of the time. She read all of the books we had to read for school. She read books she wanted to read for herself. She reread books (Pride and Prejudice). And she gave me books as gifts. I loved those birthday and Christmas presents.

Meredith_violinSometimes, I get to play the piano for my Mom. I mentioned this in a previous post, about how much I love bringing her to church with me to play. She’s the real deal and her violin resumé is simply impressive, so people don’t know what’s coming. I love to glance out at the audience, as soon as we’ve finished, and see their expressions. They’ve been moved by the beauty of music. It’s full of the spirit and listening to my Mom play, I hear (and feel) her testimony loud and clear. It’s powerful. And I get to sit behind her, at the piano, and play the background music to that. Each time, I think of my piano as a church-goer in the audience, moved by the spirit and her testimony, shouting, “Amen! Hallelujah! Oh Lordy, it’s true!” And I try to remember to lift the pedal a lot so I don’t muddle the sounds. (Piano strings pick up the violin notes, too, so lift the pedal!) When I still lived at home, I used to randomly ask her to come and play with me. Convenient beauty.

I hope that my daughter is like me. I hope that I am like my mom. I hope that we have a similar relationship. We should be so lucky.


5 thoughts on “thinking about mother-daughter relationships

  1. My Gabriel is putting all those stored boy clothes to use now😀. Thanks!!! Funny, I always thought I would raise girls…


  2. Clearly my darling daughter (to quote my father), is as able a writer as I am a musician!
    thanks for writing with emotion, clarity and fun!
    Love you!!! Love that little non-son too!


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