We humans love for many reasons, and we may love people, animals, hobbies, activities and so on. We are capable of such great love that the angels themselves may envy us, and our love may be fractured into many glittering shards in order to share that love with many.
Today I think of the love between mothers and daughters; both the love that our mothers show us, and the love we show our mothers. The mother-daughter bond is so strong and so bright that it can both bind and blind us. The fierce love mothers have for daughters is apparent in ways that only mothers can show. Granted, mothers, like daughters, are not perfect. Often when we (as mothers and daughters) want to be soft and kind and encouraging, we can be hard, brutally honest and disparaging. As we are all created with free will and endless possibilities, the way we give and receive love will naturally be different according to the person.
The mother who continually nags the daughter may in her heart be saying, ‘I love you! I care about you! I worry about you! You are so important to me that I can’t let you do anything that hurts or endangers you!’ But what comes across to the daughter is, ‘I don’t like you the way you are; you are a disappointment to me.’ As old as we get, we daughters want and need our mothers’ love and approval.
Consequently, the daughter who constantly lashes out and says hurtful things to her mother, defies her and challenges her may be seeking attention in her own way. What appears to be a pushing-away may be a plea for closeness and reassurance.
I have never been a mother, but I was lucky enough to become a stepmother to two amazing, bright and incredible young women. Later on, I became a step-grandmother to the most wonderful, interesting and glorious granddaughter I could possibly imagine. The three of them are so closely woven into my heart that they all might as well be my own. Even my step-status makes me at once filled with love, fearful of anything happening to them, joy in their lives, happiness in just the sight of them and great (if unearned) pride in who they are.
One of the joys of my life is having lunch once a month with my two oldest and dearest friends. We all met in grade school, and went through high school together. We all grew up running in and out of each others’ houses, and knew each others’ parents well. My two friends and I have kept up communication when distance parted us, and we finally now live within an easy drive from each other. One of my friends (happily, she is also my sister-in-law) has her mom living at home with her and my brother-in-law. My own mom is living comfortably and happily with my dad (58 years together as of last December), and although she has slowed down some, she is pretty independent.
Sadly, my other dear friend lost her mom this week. Her mom lived a long life, and she, like my sister-in-law’s mom and moms of my school friends; were part of my growing-up. Slim, dark-haired and peppery, she was a real firecracker. One of the things she insisted on was that her children (my friend has three brothers, too) be polite and personable to all. And they were! They set the standard for good behavior for all of us, and we all tried to keep their good example. My friend’s mom was a positive influence on us all in that way.
We daughters have a soft place in our hearts for our moms, and they do for us. Whether the relationship is stormy or calm, the steady undercurrent of love is always there. The human heart is a vast space in which resides the love we have for those in our lives and those who have passed on. All those who have touched our lives deeply or lightly occupy a space where we can visit any time we like. There are few sure things in this life, but I know this for certain: the pain we feel for the loss will fade. The love remains forever bright, forever welcoming and forever joyous.