On becoming my mother

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One of the greatest parenting secrets my mother passed on was to raise my child as a friend, a best friend. So when my daughter asked me recently what my opinion is about the phrase “I am not your friend, I am your mother” I was rather shocked. In my book, I cannot possibly imagine being a parent and not being a friend to my child, but I seem to be in the minority,. Building up a solid friendship with your child(dren) does not happen overnight, and certainly has to be initiated practically at birth. For as long as you perceive your child to be your mere offspring and a bundle of responsibilities, friendship cannot flourish.

My mother was no saint, and she had a temper that could trigger a volcano eruption on some days, but she also had the uncanny ability to sail through the worst storms of her life with a sense of humour and faith. I only realised this much later on in life, and understood many of her decisions, perspectives and attitudes. The older I get, however, the more I realise I am becoming my mother, and those of you who knew her, will understand why.

Measurements? What measurements? Just taste it and then adjust – My grandfather had three rules in cooking:
1. Follow the recipe to the letter the first time around
2. Make minor adjustments to your taste the second time around
3. The recipe is a mere guideline the third time around and from here on you just wing it.
Part 3 was the yummiest version of all, but the trouble here was that Mommy never measured things, she sprinkled or poured things in freehand. So when I asked her for her recipes after I got married, she had to sit down and pour over several recipe books to come up with the measurements, much to amusement of my father who was an engineer and believed in precision and exact measurements! I find myself in the exact same spot now when my daughter asks for my recipes, but at least I have Pinterest or Google to run to for most measurements!

Let´s go home, it´s getting dark already – my daughter laughed at this one the other day. Context: she was supposed to run some errands but took her own sweet time at home. I pointed out that it was already 3:30pm and the sun would be setting in 30 minutes, so she might as well leave the errands for the next day. She looked at me as though I had seven purple heads and reminded me that she was a college student. These creatures only step out of the cave at 22:00 and will hit the clubs or bars by midnight. Mommy always rushed home whenever the sun started setting, afraid to be caught out on the streets in the dark. She belonged to the generation that had to rush home for the 6:00pm Angelus and if you were late you got punished. So I was raised to believe that I had no business being out of the house anymore after dark. In a similar manner, anything after 9:00am was already noon to Mommy and thus half the day gone already. Same.

Drop, crash, fall – I can´t really pinpoint when it began to happen with Mommy, but at some point she started having a lot of small accidents around the house. At first we all attributed it to clumsiness, including her, but considering this is the woman who gave half the neighbourhood their injections (she had a special method that made it all less painful, which none of the younger nurses learned) with her steady hands, she began to worry. As of late, I have been having a lot of accidents around the house, and it is scary, but it is about the same age when it started with Mommy. Luckily I inherited her steady hands, and the evil thumbs too, which allow me to do acupressure (acutorture?) for a select few.

Waving good-bye – this is the part she disliked the most when it came to our relationship. Mommy was with me every step of the way through all my reconstructive surgeries, the school events, and so many other highlights. But when I left home for the first time to go off to college in the USA, she was heartbroken. Over the years she got used to me coming and going, but saying good-bye was never her forte, and at some point she asked me to forgive her for not taking me to the airport. AT the time I thought she was just being over sentimental, but now I understand her so much better, each time I have to wave good-bye to my own daughter. I dread going to the bus station or the airport, and would much rather wave from my own front door.

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