By Lisa Sugarman

The mother-daughter relationship is a unique one. We go from being cute and sweet and little and dependent on our moms for everything to sort-of grown and sort-of cute and sort-of independent to fully grown and fully independent and responsible for our own little people. And then, ultimately, when our moms start to slow down and need someone to lean on, the circle of life laps itself and it’s our time to take care of them.

In the beginning, when our journey starts, we’re sidekicks, living for every snuggle and story time and piggyback we can get, and no amount of time is ever enough. Then we’re teens and, yeah, well, it’s probably better if we just skip over that, because that’s usually a dark time for most of us. And then we’re young adults, totally capable of handling everything that life hurls at us—until we can’t and we ask our moms for help. And finally, we’re the grownups, living on our own, adulting every day, working, and raising our own families, and that’s when the true mind shift about our mothers as super humans really happens. That’s when we start to see things through a totally different lens—a clearer, wider, more high-powered optic that lets us see the true contours of the woman who we call Mom. And from my own experience, that’s when our perspective truly shifts.

See, as much as we’d like to say the mom-daughter relationship is designed around mutual love and respect and affection right from day one, that’s not always the case. Most often, during those early adolescent years as kids, we’re just trying to figure out our own head space. And that’s what we end up doing for many of those first few decades of our life, learning to strike a delicate balance of love and respect for our moms at the same time that we’re trying to figure out who we are as people. But just below the surface, our ebb and flow is always slightly changing course. So sometimes we’re close. And sometimes we’re not. And sometimes we’re just not capable of seeing our moms as anything more than a silhouette in the shadows, until we’re old enough to shake our narcissistic kid ways and truly appreciate her for all that she really is.

Honestly, I’m grateful to be where I am right now—in this beautiful space of time in between being an empty nester and becoming a different kind of caregiver. Because it’s right here, deep within this place of crystal-clear hindsight, that she and I can both finally celebrate each other for the women and mothers and humans we are—her looking at the mother I’ve become and me looking at the mother she’s always been. And I’d love to just pack some dry ice around this place that my mom and I are in today and preserve it forever. That’s because, back in the day, when I was too young and immature to really appreciate her raising me as a single mom, we weren’t the friends we are today. Back then, it was the classic push-pull mom-daughter relationship, with her gently trying to pull me close and me subtly keeping her at arm’s length. Very much the whole hindsight-is-twenty-twenty trap.

Sandy Eigner & Lisa SugarmanBut once we grow up, and mothers and daughters find their way to a place of love and gratitude and mutual respect, there’s nothing else like it. Nothing. And it’s from this overlook, where I’ve been able to pause and reflect back on all the beautiful ways that my mom has impacted my personality, my relationship with my daughters, my life as a parent, and my world in general, and it’s made it abundantly clear just how much of her has been inside me all along. And that’s something I don’t think I truly realized until I became a mom myself. In fact, I think it’s something that few, if any, of us can truly understand until we can take a big enough step back to see the full forest for the trees. That’s when I could finally stop and catch my breath and see the true scope of everything my mom had done for me over the course of my life.

That’s when I really saw her. Like really saw her. And I’ve been in awe of her ever since.

So, at age fifty and eighty we’re both hyper-aware of what lies ahead for us. We know that our dynamic will ultimately shift again, and she’ll be the one who needs to rely on me. And that’s ok because I look forward to being able to pay back all that love and kindness when she needs it most. Right now, though, the only thing we can do is to do all the things—every single one of the—now, while we can. That’s why we’re both choosing to live right here, squarely in these lucid, beautiful, and delicious moments that we both want to drink through a firehose. Because now that we’ve both raised our kids, we can finally look up and take a breath. Now, it’s our time.

Previously published on 50 Shades of Aging at 50shadesofaging.com.

Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. She writes the nationally syndicated opinion column It Is What It Is and is the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is and Untying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in Knots—And How to Get Free, available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and at select bookstores everywhere. Lisa is also a MentorMama at SocialMama, the networking app for moms. Read and discuss all her columns and books at lisasugarman.com. Or, find them on GrownAndFlown.com, Hot Moms Club, LittleThings.com, MommingHubb.com, 50 Shades of Aging, More Content Now, Wickedlocal.com, This Mama Wines, and Care.com.

 

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