Degrees

I spent this past Easter with my relatives.  Some time during the afternoon, I noticed one of my cousins staring rather intently at me.  It wasn’t an angry, or condescending or judgemental look – but it was interested, even amused.  Later, she approached me, and explained her fascination. 

It turns out that she was engrossed by my mother and I – how we talked and giggled like sisters.  (I recall this – actually, we were seated close to an enormous plate of cheeses.  Cheese makes us happy.) 

But the relationship between mother and daughter is also an engrossing thing.  As the years pass that connection curls and meanders like the rivers buried inside us, an emotional circulation that feeds the blood.

When we are born, we are close – bound by the obligations of motherhood and a spontaneous affection for the tiny, dependent creature who became the center of attention without even thinking to ask for it.  

Aubrey Doesn’t Understand Tinsel

Carried on that river by weariness, resentment and nobility, the new mother eventually beaches on the loving shore and prepares to stay there.

We Scan The Sands

But the passage of time muscles itself between the dependencies and clutching hands, forcing the characters apart, setting them upon a wandering path. 

Aubrey Annoyed, Apparently

 There are obligations here too, but this time on the child’s part, feeling a compulsion to follow other influences…although there is nothing she would like more than to stay home.

Teenage years are sad and stupid, but with luck, there is some knowledge there too.  And if a daughter loves her mother more than any of her – frankly inferior – fellow students, well, there is no shame in that.  She is happily dependent, but the neediness must stay hidden.

It is at this time when the danger is greatest – when it is in the presence of distances. Affection is like a tethered buoy and a foolish word or spark of ill-begotten emotion can cut the line, letting the deep and busy sea carry it away.   Tides flex and torment as the young person struggles in the testing waters.

But there is always a promise of help; to be given willingly, patiently and wisely.  I spoke to my mother about everything, it seems to me.  And I received – in exchange for nothing, I believe – the most exquisite sympathy and strength.  We also went shopping a lot.

Girl Talk

With the onslaught of adulthood, the relationship that started as one-sided, continued as a distant equation of checks and balances, became one of equality.   This will allow for girlish asides, in-jokes, nicknames, and more shopping trips. 

This relationship is one of degrees; emotions that read like spatial arrangements – close, distant, equal.  It forms a river, that circulation that defines me.  It continues, to be recognized today, along with a gratitude that is terrifying in its vastness and depth.

Mother – today is Mother’s Day, and I celebrate the distance we’ve travelled together.  I love you.

A Blonde And A Bob

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10 responses to “Degrees

  1. Happy Mother’s Day. Hugs! :)

  2. Thanks for reminding me it’s Mother’s Day.

    Also, thanks for posting Baby Aubrey’s tiny toes. They gave me a chuckle on a rainy morning.

  3. So very sweet and real!

  4. Cheese makes me happy, too. Yay for moms!

  5. What a beautiful post. I miss my mom more than I ever thought I could. I’ll be glad when this weekend is over. ;)

  6. Hope your mother has a Happy Mother’s Day! I confess I laughed at the third photo. I believe I have one or two or three of those where Mom and I are posing for the camera and I have a frown on my face. I don’t even remember why I was so unhappy at the time, but Mom doesn’t look like she even noticed. Now, I’ll bet my own kids have their own memories of such moments. Or not. :D

  7. What a thoughtful and moving account of the journey traveled by mothers and daughters… I smiled at your reference to those sad and stupid teenage years – it’s hard to believe I was so naive then. Mother’s Day is still difficult for me, even though it’s been twenty-one years this month since I lost her and I still miss her dearly. Your mom is very lucky to have you for a daughter, Aubrey!

  8. My mother’s gone and all of my children are on the other side of the world. I bought myself some pearl earrings for Mother’s Day. I thought that I deserved them.

  9. My mother is now gone and I am a mother. I wonder sometimes if our roles define us. If, since I no longer have a mother, am I still a daughter? I carry the role of orphan now, and at my age feel too old for that, and yet are we ever too old to be without parents? Life with my mother was rough and challenging, but this post brings back memories of the good things we also shared, and thank you for that.

  10. I noticed that your baby haircut is fairly similar to your current haircut. That amuses me.

    In the “not amused” photo, who’s who? I seriously can’t tell. I can’t figure out either person’s age. The person on the right doesn’t look like you – so I want to think it’s your mother but that would mean your hair colors are “backward”… and imagining you rockin a ball of blonde bombshell makes me laugh.

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