How many women have looked in the mirror and exclaimed, “Wow! I have become my mother!” I have seen my handwriting look more and more like my mother’s, along with some of my gestures and facial expressions that remind me that I am my mother’s daughter.
Mothers and daughters have a special bond and through its myriad stages, the tie is always bound by a deep and abiding love. Two books come to mind that have helped me along the way on this subject which are Nancy Friday’s My Mother, My Self and Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mother’s Garden. Both books gave me alternate ways of viewing mother-daughter relationships.
These loved-filled relationships can also have periods of contention during power struggles. Adult daughters of aging mothers know that their roles gradually reverse and the daughter may become the parent. But the aging mothers will not ‘go quietly into the night,” and wars can ensue. However, in both of my novellas, the mother is still administering the comfort and solace to her daughter.
In A Golden Leaf in Time Revised, Septima comforts Phoenix after she takes a day off from work and is resting at her mother’s sister’s home. After the aunt has said and done all that she can, Phoenix calls her mother long distance. Her mother advises her.
“Her mother’s closing words were, ‘Remember, Phoenix, that no person, no thing, no set of circumstances can by any possibility interpose itself between you and your good. They are there for your own spiritual growth. I know you can’t see it now, but you will. They’re like growing pains. Your higher good is on the way. Something good will come behind this. Try to relax, and try not thinking about it for today anyway. Enjoy your stay there and your day off.’
Nancy Friday writes from My Mother, My Self, “The primary rule is always that a mother can’t go wrong, ever, by encouraging her child after age one and a half to be as individuated and separated as possible. If she was not as good a mother before as she would like to have been, she must get over her guilty desires to overcompensate, and place herself on the side of the child’s developing.”
In the sequel, Warm Intrigues, Septima and Phoenix are now living in the same city. They are close and the mother notices the positive changes in her daughter once Phoenix is dating a new guy.
“Her mother walked around the one-bedroom place and showed an approving bow of the head. “Nice. Really nice. Nice view and lots of sun which matches your disposition,” she said.
“Well, thanks, Ma. That is a compliment. A real compliment,” she added.
“I thought that the sun had left, but it has come out again,” she said.
“Meaning?” asked Phoenix.
“There was a long stretch of gloom and curt responses, but it seems that the little girl that we raised is coming back into her own,” answered Septima. “And I might add that this young man, Tyre, has helped in restoring some of the light.”
“Aw, Ma.” Phoenix blushed”.
Alice Walker writes, “My mother had handed down respect for the possibilities…and the will to grasp them.” Of course, Septima wants the absolute best for her daughter and is quite happy to see her being restored to her natural state of beauty.
Phoenix looks at her mother in another scene and privately hopes that she will be like her mother when she is older. She comments on her mother’s fashion choices.
“You are looking mighty spiffy, Ma,” exclaimed Phoenix. “You got a hot date?”
She looked her mother up and down and saw her skinny legs jeans,
small low-heeled boots, and a nice camel-colored cashmere wrap.
“I might,” her mother laughed.”
From Alice Walker’s In Search of My Mother’s Garden, she defines a womanist as, “Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.”
The bond between mothers and daughters is eternal. Even if our mothers are no longer physically present, we still feel them hovering and protecting us. All of those wonderful images of her during her earthly existence are forever etched in our memories and psyche.
Lynn September 11, 2014