Motherless Daughters and Daughterless Mothers

Painting by Saundra Lane-Galloway

Painting by Saundra Lane-Galloway

“Your mother took care of everything.” That’s what the girl in the sleek  red spa t-shirt and black spandex capri pants said to me yesterday morning upon my arrival at the spa. She said it as if it were absolutely normal. Like it was a sentence a woman hears every day.

In my case, and in the case of many other women, having a ‘mother’ who took care of everything is but a fairytale idea, right up there with prince charming, and the tooth fairy.

For women who have been orphaned by their mother, either through death, separation or circumstance, the absence of a real mother figure can be a painful space that gets revisited time and again as we make our way through various rights of passage.

In my life I have been fortunate enough to find women who have been there for me. During childbirth, my mother-in-law and grandmother. Divorce – my aunt. Mothering my own child, I cherished and held tightly to the advice of my old-school family physician – trust your instinct, and don’t let anyone tell you  any differently.

I parented fiercely, the only way I knew how. The only way that I knew how to show my child a mother’s love, and the lengths I would go to nurture and protect him. Something that I sadly lacked during my own youth and childhood, but had reinforced by the women that I have met and befriended.

So yesterday, as I turned my back to the woman at the counter, who was likely staring at my back, thinking, “Wow, that woman has a great mom.”, I thought to myself, “Yah. Yah, in fact I do have a great mom. The one that I was meant to find after so many years of feeling abandoned.”

If you were raised in an atmosphere that has made you turn inward, and lose trust in the women around you (I was raised to believe you didn’t get too close to other women because they’d steal your man),  open yourself up to the possibility that older women are great teachers, and younger women are hungry for female mentors.

Our romantic relationships flounder, our bodies change, our desires and the things that make us happy morph with time. It has been the older, wiser women in my life who have helped me understand, not feel crazy, and enjoy this ride we call womanhood. The younger ones remind me of the spitfire I used to be, and make me wonder at the more subdued version of my younger self whom I have become.

Being a motherless daughter has its obvious drawbacks, but there are benefits too. You get to choose your mothers and form healthy bonds with strong, wise women who are more than willing to light the path.

Open yourself to the possibilities that are presented to you. I wish you all the joy of having incredible ‘mothers’!

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