We come thru them. We bond. We attach. We connect. In our rocky adolescence we fight against their old-fashioned and outdated beliefs. We differentiate and separate. We resent them for who they are..and always love them for being exactly that. We dream of becoming just like them..and fear that that’s exactly who we’ve become. Once we were daughters only. Now we are mothers to those daughters we once were.
As our mothers’ daughters we were raised to be seen and not heard. As our daughters’ mothers we are – perhaps – to be heard, but rarely to be seen. Not with them in their lives. Not in public for certain. After a lifetime of being the drivers of their cars, we find ourselves relegated to the back seat. We learn to speak only when spoken to, and offer our sage advice only when asked. We learn to tread softly, to wear beige, to blend into the backgrounds of our daughters’ days.
We find ourselves, surprisingly and unexpectedly, slipping and sliding into our mother’s well-worn shoes. We begin to see and understand from the other side.
‘Questa è la mia mamma’ – my daughter said in her impeccable Italian as she introduced me to her new friends. 'This is my mom.' Instinctively, my first thoughts were to apologize for intruding in their lives and upon their space. My intention was not to call any sort attention to myself, but to simply and silently observe. From where I came, being someone’s mother was worthy only of a polite and respectful handshake and certainly nothing more. My experiences taught me that mothers were all fine and good as long as they weren’t too much in their daughter’s faces. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted with embraces that were warm and genuine, with kisses planted one to each cheek , and a heartfelt ‘welcome to our humble abode’.
‘La nostra casa è la sua.’ Our house is yours. Come in..come in. Please..please - make yourself at home. This was so different from how I’d been greeted in my world and life. Such a wonderful surprise.
‘La mia mamma sta qui per vedermi’ – my daughter explained as the owner and chef of the restaurant presented the day’s extraordinary offerings. I looked bewildered and puzzled, unable to make sense of what he was saying. ‘My mother is visiting me and doesn't understand’ – she explained.
He nodded his head in acknowledgement with a new found appreciation. ‘La tua mamma!!!’ And with those words disappeared only to return with a single pink rose. ‘Per Lei'. For you – he offered. In honor and celebration of being a mother, and for no better or other reason than that.
A land whose customs and traditions are so different from the ones that I know. La dolce vita. A sweet life. A simple life. One that moves at a slower pace. Where people take their time to savor the ordinary and everyday.. Good food…good wine..good company. A country that is rooted in the riches of the fertile soil and its religious tradition, and decorated in ancient art. Colors that take your breath away. A people and culture that celebrate the mother figure, just because she is who she is. A woman. One who bears and raises the children..who feeds..who nurtures…who gives life.
There are moments that shift. Experiences that change and transform, that find you suddenly seeing yourself and your relationships in another light. It doesn’t change the century’s old dance – the push/pull…the battle for both intimacy and autonomy..the desperate need to be connected and separate all at once and the same time. As both my mother’s daughter and my daughter’s mother – I was reminded that all mothers everywhere are to be honored.
Una fest delle Madri. A celebration of mothers. For no particular reason. Just because…