Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mothers, daughters who are Mothers, and Travel ...

I am not going to lie. The last few days have been rich, full, satisfying, emotionally rewarding, and, damnit, really tough. Helping our daughter pack for her trip and get through a long list of the potentially stressful errands that accompany a move to another country on another continent . . Watching her and Frankie together with family for the last time in a long while, all the dynamics of sibling relationships, my sensitivity to those dynamics and their long, intimate histories, my sensitIvity, as well, to the huge gap between what the mother of adult children feels about her all-grown-up-and-then-some babies and what she can say to them or do for them, and when, and how.
Holding my granddaughter close, i held my daughter again. I did tell her that, at one point; it felt imperative that she really gets how fiercely and tenderly I love her, loved her, will always love her. But I was careful, too, and even so, I got rebuffed one or twice, gently sometimes, with barely disguised impatience, even irritation, at others. She needs to be the Mom now, the adult; she can't afford to be my baby when she has to close up a house, cancel the car insurance and sign the transfer papers, get the cat to the vet and then to the pet transfer company, and stop by the bank to sort out accounts. And, oh yes, weigh those two humongous bags again to make sure they squeak under the 23-kilogram limit. Never mind the 50 pounds she's somehow wheedled into her two allowed carry-on pieces and the baby's diaper bag. Oh, and where are those passports and the printed itinerary?
To my shame, and with no hope now of possible reparation, I remember my parents dropping me off at the Vancouver Airport many years ago. I'd come for a short visit, a solo break from our busy family life in Prince Rupert, six or seven months pregnant, I think, with either our 3rd or our 4th. My dad dropped Mom and I at Departures and went to park the car. I grabbed my bag, only to find that Mom was already carrying it. She would have been in her mid-50s then, thin and wiry as she always was, very fit from walking and constant gardening. Strong enough to lift my bag, certainly. And I knew that-- she and my dad backpacked around Europe for six months within a year or two of her picking up my suitcase that day.
But I bristled, I think, at the suggestion that my pregnancy made me unable to carry my own luggage (ignoring somehow the reality that my mother, who'd borne ten children, surely knew the limits of pregnancy well). And I said to her something very like "oh, for heaven's sake! Even pregnant, I'm sure I'm stronger than you." I didn't actually say "at your age" but those unspoken words might as well have been echoed from the airport's concrete walls. Certainly, they're still echoing inside me, almost ten years older than she would have been, knowing full well that I could pick that bag up now, just as she could have then, had I been gracious enough to allow it.
So I know something of what R. was feeling yesterday, and I understand, painfully, a bit more of what my mother must have felt all those years ago. Luckily, my daughter didn't snap anything so unkind at me. I'd love to think that's because I've been better at boundaries than my mom was, but I doubt it. For all the mistakes I hoped to avoid, I suspect I've only made different ones. And not with any more love. Ah, mom....
It's almost Mother's Day and my daughter will spend her first official one in another country, and I will, myself, be far from home. My sister and I will probably lift a glass in Paris to toast and remember our mother.... And I will be a bit tearful, perhaps, to be so far from my children. But I'll also remind myself that they are wonderful, independent adults, raising my wonderful still-dependent grandchildren. Some of whom I will have to visit in Rome. Sigh...
Frankie naps in her stroller on our long walk yesterday while her mom ran errands.
My conflicted thoughts and emotions about motherhood and generational change (and continuity) are obviously heightened by having loved ones in the air as I write and by preparing to be in the air myself tomorrow. I'm soothing them this afternoon with a visit to the Spa for a facial and my first pedicure of the season. These feet have to be fancy for those Paris streets! I will also be comforted this afternoon by a visit with 6-year-old N, who requested some time with the special Playmobil dollhouse we keep here for her. Okay, sweethert, that can be arrang
And I will definitely take time to read any comments you have time to leave, althgh I may not find time to answer them. Not sure how much I'll be posting from Paris, but I suspect my Instagram account will be busy. Link is top of the right-hand column, if you're interested.


22 comments:

  1. I urge you to find a place in the sun on a Paris street (weather good there I believe), order a glass of champagne and simply sit back and (in the words of the Beatles) let it be. Clarity often appears after a sole glass of the good stuff. It's after the third that the messy times begin...a bientot, mater.

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    1. The kind of good advice I'm happy to follow obediently...

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  2. I like Annie's advice! You are going through some tough times there - makes me realise what my mum was going through when I went to live in Germany, first as a student at 20, then at 24 after uni.

    Safe travels!

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    1. And you may soon be experiencing with your young men. Your family is well used to traveling, though, and it may not be so hard.

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  3. So many changes! I noticed that you've changed the paragraph AR the top to reflect your new status. Today's post is beautiful and poignant. No one gets everything right, not even someone as lovely and sensitive as you are. I think that this is the perfect time for Paris. I wish you a wonderful time with your sister, and I hope you follow Annie's suggestion.

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    1. Yes, I had to make sure the two latest were included. Well spotted! Thanks for the kind words. We just do our best, right?

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  4. <3

    I hope you have a wonderful time in Paris.

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  5. I, too, hope you have a wonderful time in Paris.

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  6. The wheel of life ......... sometimes cruel, sometimes comforting. At least you can take great satisfaction and pride in producing such upstanding, capable, independent children.
    I'm quite envious of you flitting over to Paris to celebrate Mothers' Day. For me it's a 32 hour journey, but my spirit is always somewhere in France. Warm regards.

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    1. It's all relative- thanks for reminding me. 15-20 hours in transit doesn't feel like "flitting" but ew is just nasty! Is that from Australia or NZ?

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  7. Change is difficult. The generations spill into each other….Paris with your sister will be fun. Bon voyage!

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    1. Yes they do, backwards and forwards.

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  8. I can identify with every word you say here about mothers and daughters, mothers and grown-up children and how your relationship with your own mother comes back to haunt you through your own children. It is my oldest son's birthday today, and I can't get him on the phone, only texts. My baby! Very complex and sometimes just bitter/sweet. I can even identify with the facial - had my first one ever today and may have found a new addiction - a whole world of pampering I have never really felt the need of, but wow, my skin is so soft now!

    Enjoy Paris and it will all settle down nicely in time xx

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    1. Aren't facials wonderful? I manage one or two a year and wonder each time why not more often.
      Technology is a huge comfort, allows us to stay in touch, but sometimes the contact seems so illusory when we remember and crave touch, physical presence...

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  9. Yes , I'm mortified when I look back and see how I took my mother's help for granted after my children were born . Years later when I talked about it with her , she said she'd done the same ... everyone does .
    And I do remember my Granny very fondly ... as my children do theirs .

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    1. Your mother sounds wise and wonderful. I remember my grandma so fondly and wish that for my grandchildren...

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  10. I like Annie's advice. Sometimes all you can do is sit back and take a deep breath. It's been one of those days so I'll sit back and have a glass too and think about a trip in the future when events calm down (if they ever do......).
    Lynn

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    1. I hope they do calm down...and meanwhile, the glass of wine and a good think seem inarguably good things.

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  11. How brave you are to be so honest. You have really nailed it --that flip flop-- daughter of mother, mother of daughter, the strange symmetry of it and the pain of the realizations we come to too late to repair. It is the stuff of fairytales, as if the spell of being a daughter can't be broken until we are a mother with a grown daughter, just at the moment it is too late to let our mothers know we now understand....

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    1. It truly is, the mesmerizing twisted fate of the fairytale. . .we do our best....

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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