Sometimes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
Two days before Mother’s Day, my mom bought three roses: a red one for me and my brother, and a white one for herself. As she gave me my red rose (symbolizing that my mother is alive), she recalled how when she was a little girl, she hoped she’d never have to wear a white rose (symbolizing that her mother is deceased). And with a sigh she said, “now, here I am having to wear a white rose.” My grandmother passed 12 years ago, and although this was the first time I’d heard my mom say this, I was sure that she’d thought about it each year during Mother’s Day as she went to put on her white rose.
During church Sunday, a few members performed a skit called “Don’t Drive Your Mama Away”. To sum it up, it was about a woman with two sons; one “good” and one “bad”. The good son became a doctor, got married, and invited the mother to live with him while the bad son continued to get into trouble that eventually landed him in jail. Eventually, the “good” son’s wife insisted that his mother be put in a retirement home because she was “getting in the way” and against his better judgment, he agreed. The mother was hurt and disappointed. But, in the nick of time, the “bad” son came around and offered to take his mother in; saying, unlike his brother, he didn’t have much money, but she was welcome to what he did have. And she took him up on his offer.
The play ended with the “cast” singing these lyrics: God gave you your mama/Don’t drive her away/If you drive her away/You’re gonna need her help one day/I’m no stranger, don’t drive me away. [Apparently this is a song by Shirley Caesar]. As they sang that song, I couldn’t help but notice an older lady sitting in front of me sobbing and I could only imagine what she might have been thinking/feeling regarding herself or her own mother. Then, I too began to cry. And as the tears rolled down my face, I couldn’t help but think about my own mother and how those lyrics – so true – pierced through to my soul.
Ever since I can remember, my mother has always been there for me. She always made sure I had the things I needed, and a lot of times wanted, growing up. Although she was young when she had me, it didn’t stop her from fulfilling her responsibilities as a mother, even if it meant working more than one job. She was also very active in my education, making sure I had good teachers and participating in school functions. More importantly, she made sure I did my homework and studied – and if there was ever a problem, she was at the school! As I got older, she made sure I stayed active in school and in the community [girl scouts, band, softball, summer camps, cheerleading, student organizations, pageants, etc.].
Somewhere along the way, hormones kicked in (I suppose), and I began to rebel a little. We still had a good relationship because I knew she was there for me and that she cared, but I felt like she didn’t understand me; like she didn’t want me to have fun (she was considered “strict” by some – especially me). Then, along came the attitudes – the exchange of words that you really don’t mean, slamming doors, rolling eyes – all that extra stuff. I’m sure it was like this some in middle school, but I remember it mostly during high school. College was a little better even though I attended the local university, because I lived on campus. So, we had our space. But, we even had our challenges during college. I wanted to experience things for myself. My mom, on the other hand, believed (and still does) that no matter how old I was, she was putting her “two cents” in and I’d just have to deal with it. She was still there for me though – making sure I got my education and a good start at life.
After college, I moved hundreds of miles away, but quickly learned that a mother’s love surpasses any amount of miles. Although I was with family, nothing meant more to me than hearing my mother’s voice over the phone and seeing her as often as possible. She encouraged me often in my endeavors, even after I was laid off from work. When things didn’t work out, and I decided to come home and return to school for my Masters, she welcomed me in. Since moving home, I sometimes tend to allow the stresses of the world to get to me and as a result the attitudes resurface. There’s no slamming doors or rolling eyes, but words are exchanged. Also, I sometimes find myself not wanting to be bothered and closing myself in; and as a result, shutting others (including my mom) out. And I don’t always understand why. As I type this, it’s not something that I’m proud of, but it’s true.
So as I sat there in church, I thought about what my mom had said; and as I watched the lady sitting in front of me sob as the “cast” sang the song to the skit entitled “Don’t Drive Your Mama Away”, I listened to those lyrics and I thought about my mother and how I’ve treated her throughout the years – and even now at times. And all I could do is cry and promise myself that I would make a better effort to build a stronger relationship with my mother! Today, I joined her for her daily walk around town – something I haven’t done since after I first moved home. We even stopped for ice cream (shh, don’t tell my brother). Something small, but it’s a start.
I have a friend who lost her mother in January. We went to school together, and she’s the same age as me. I can’t begin to imagine how she must have felt Sunday, whether she wore a white rose or not. I do know one thing though, like my mom, I hope I never have to wear a white rose.
A mother-daughter relationship may change over time, but the natural bond that you share as mother and daughter remains the same forever – she will always be your mother and you her daughter. It’s never too late to establish, reestablish, or strengthen your mother-daughter relationship! You can start with something as small as a walk, or talking over a cup of ice cream. The point is that you make an effort and start because tomorrow is not promised, and you never know if/when you may have to put on your white rose.
My Question to You:
What does your mother-daughter relationship mean to you? Feel free to share your ideas of how to establish, reestablish, or strengthen a mother-daughter relationship.
~ Ciara Walker