I carry my mother with me all the time; in reality, she is hundreds of miles away, and yet she always is much closer. I feel her as I stroke my daughter’s hair and as I whisper pet names in her ear, the same names my mother called me: angel, precious, darling. It is my mother who guides my hands as I fumble my way through the kitchen, preparing the meals I ate as a child. As I embrace my daughter, I feel my mother’s arms around me, righting me, guiding me. It is my mother’s voice I hear in the lullabies I sing, always my mother.
Love binds us together
And there in those songs, in the Brooklyn-accented phrases I too utter, are my grandparents and their parents… and all of the love that has passed from generation to generation, binding us together in ways seen and unseen, said and unsaid.
I come from good soil.
Gifts we give our children
Months ago, I encountered a heavyset woman on the train with three children, an infant and two toddlers. The woman howled and cursed at her children while a handful of astonished passengers listened to the tirade. The toddlers sat in a silent pool of shame. The baby peered out from her stroller, eyes bright with unshed tears.
I wondered then who those children would grow up to be, robbed of their mother’s tenderness.
We become who we are because of our parents, or sometimes, in spite of them. And as parents ourselves, we have the ability to give our children so many gifts — kindness among them.
Painted in my mother’s image
When my daughter was born, my mother told me not to focus on getting it all right. The most important thing, she said, was simply to love her. “You’re learning to be a mother,” my mother said. “Just as your daughter is learning how to be a baby.”
What I didn’t know then was how much I already knew, all of the ways I had been painted in my mother’s image, and all of the values she had planted deep in my soul. But as the months roll along, and as I have become more confident and sure as a mother, she is there in everything I do.
In my devotion to my child, I am my mother’s daughter. In the quiet prayers I whisper to my baby at night, I am my mother’s daughter. In all the silly songs and the healing hugs, I am my mother’s daughter. My mother’s strength bolsters me through the workday and into the twilight, where my daughter and I rock together in her darkened room. My mother’s voice finds me on stressful days, gently anchoring me and reminding me to be thankful. And truly, I am.
My pledge to my daughter
I am my mother’s daughter, and my kind, loving mother gave me every bit of herself she could offer. And now, as my daughter’s mother, I pledge to do just the same myself.
Recommended Viewing: “I Remember Mama,” 1948
“For long as I could remember, the house on the Larkin Street Hill had been home. Papa and Mama had both born in Norway but they came to San Francisco because Mama’s sisters were here, all of us were born here. Nels, the oldest and the only boy, my sister Christine and the littlest sister Dagmar but first and foremost I remember Mama”.