Silk Flowers Turn Out To Be OK, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:26am


So, Mom.

You all know it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, here in the USA.

So, Mom.

I am by no means the world’s best daughter. Never was. But this is my time to make sure the deal’s even. That Mom is repaid for all the work she did and all the worry she felt trying to do a Good Job. Repaid sounds venal. I don’t exactly mean repaid.

The work of motherhood is most demanding in the days when our children are least capable of thanks. I remember my first thank you. I put my 3-month old daughter in her car seat, buckled her in, closed the door, and walked around behind the car to the driver’s side. I sat down and saw that my daughter’s eyes had followed me. An infant thank you.

I never wanted to make my little ones feel they were in debt. I felt so lucky to have them. As the kids grew up, I did want them to know I’d worked hard, but I still cringe at wanting to know if I’ve been a good mother. At the thought of asking.

(The Full Truth Of Shower Thoughts, Or, Saturday Morning at 11:52. I thought, as I took a shower this morning, after this post went up. In fact, what I want to know from my kids and don’t want to ask is, do you really love me? In my experience, people rarely love you for doing a Good Job. They love you for the ineffable delight of your being. That’s where the “Sturdy Gal” came from. She does good work, but rarely ignites the full sparkle type of love. That’s more personal sharing than usual. But, on the day before the first Mother’s Day after I settled my mom into assisted living, I respectfully request a pass.)

My mother was even less able to ask for reassurance than I, and therefore more in need. Also, she didn’t have a blog which would allowed her to ask indirectly. The technology of 2106, helping us in ways we couldn’t predict. Why doesn’t motherhood come with a gauge? Red lights of warning, green lights of All Is Well Good Job Mom!

So Mom, I am sorry I told you I didn’t respect you, when I was 16. I can forgive myself a little but not all the way. I am hoping that actions over decades count more than in-the-moment feelings and words.

I’ll be up to visit you tomorrow. And probably next Thursday too. Fridays aren’t good because they will take your group out to lunch. I’ll sort out a routine.

I’ll look for some silk flowers to put outside your room so you have a hope of finding it. Albeit a slim hope. Albeit possibly an imaginary hope. I know you always thought silk flowers were declassé but, realities. I’ll buy a nicer wastebasket. Some more cotton shirts to replace all those silk tunics that can’t be laundered. If you ever wanted to know you were a good mother, this is your answer. As best as I can give it.

Or Mom, if you like, I give you permission to take credit for any and all of my good behavior, such as it is. Does that seem like a good deal?

Life is an odd bird. We have to act on faith.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

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31 Comments

  • 05/07/16
    9:57 am

    Reply

    RoseAG said...

    Have no fear, your Mom has forgiven you for being a pill when you were 16. You were, after all, her daughter and she knew what was coming.

    Have you made your Mom a memory box? Our Auntie had been a stewardess in the 60s and we put her cap, a photo of her in her uniform, her TWA wings and few other things into a shadow box. It kept them all together, and gave visitors something to remark upon when they went to see her.

    05/09/16
    3:29 pm
    Lisa said...

    @RoseAG, We hope she knew what was coming;). And yes, we have made her a memory box, but truly all she remembers now are photos of her sister and her brother and herself.

  • 05/07/16
    10:22 am

    Reply

    Mary anne said...

    Yeah, it would be awkward to ask one’s children about their mothering experiences. I did get a wonderful thank you one day: my daughter was talking about how she goes fishing with her husband and two sons, but doesn’t like fishing. She goes anyway and does the best she can. I told her,”you are a good mother” She replies, “I learned from the best”. Melt, melt.

    Your mom probably didn’t wince too much at your 16year old self. Who of us has not said something like that, or worse, when we were teens?

    05/09/16
    3:33 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Mary anne, Melt to the 3rd power! Was everyone really as awful as I was?

  • 05/07/16
    10:25 am

    Reply

    Sandra Sallin said...

    Well and heartfelt said. Happy Mother’s Day to you also.

    05/09/16
    3:36 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Sandra Sallin, <3

  • 05/07/16
    10:26 am

    Reply

    Kara said...

    Be kind to yourself, Lisa. I second what RoseAG said above about mothers, forgiveness, and their children. And you know it to be true, too, because you are a mother as well. HMD–I’ll be thinking of you.

    05/09/16
    3:37 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kara, It’s true. I forgive my daughter pretty much everything. Thank you.

  • 05/07/16
    11:41 am

    Reply

    Susan B said...

    Mother’s Day has always been a bit fraught for me, but I really enjoyed this lovely post. Your children are very lucky.

    05/09/16
    3:37 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Susan B, Thank you.

  • 05/07/16
    12:12 pm

    Reply

    Sue Burpee said...

    This Susan B…seconds everything that the other Susan B said above. xo

    05/09/16
    3:40 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Sue Burpee, xoxox

  • 05/07/16
    12:18 pm

    Reply

    dottoressa said...

    It is time to forgive…..first to yourself……and than to the others.
    Silk flowers are good: nice,soft,colourful,staying there…
    Cotton shirts are good too, soft…..and consoling…

    Lisa,you are great mother,I can see it! You have wonderful kids
    And you are great daughter.
    And your mother,in one of the clouds of her mind,knows it and loves you

    Happy Mothers Day to you both
    Dottoressa

    05/09/16
    3:41 pm
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, In one of the clouds of her mind. It is like that. She wanders, in clouds. <3

  • 05/07/16
    12:40 pm

    Reply

    Katherine C. James said...

    This is beautiful, Lisa. Here is what I am learning: In the end, we have complex love and forgiveness that we carry through the generations. If we are lucky we come to terms, generation by generation, with the reality that most of us do the very best we can, and the times we are not at our best, or those around us are not at their best, we can choose to forgive with compassion. In my life, I am finding that self love and forgiveness is the key to everything. It ripples out from my heart and soul to those around me. In her eighties (her eighties), my mom told me that she regretted being a seventeen-year-old high school senior who was mortified that her mom was pregnant with her youngest sister, my Aunt Macie. It touched me so much to see that she had carried this weight all those years. My mom was the eldest of six kids, and a joy for her mom, I could stand back and see the truth of that during my grandmother’s long, well-lived, well-loved life, and I could reassure my mom of the truth of that, but if I’d asked her in her final, ninety-fourth year, she may still have carried some sadness about that. Sometimes we need others to tell us we did well, and are doing well. I am telling you, and I have known you online and on the telephone since 2009, and I hope to add in-real-life soon, that I see you doing well, with intelligence and with love. As you know, my mom died this past August. Unlike my wonderful relationship with my dad—not perfect, but really wonderful, he makes me smile when I think of him—my mom and I had a complicated relationship beginning with her postpartum depression when I, her third child, was born. Postpartum depression wasn’t at the time of my birth diagnosed or understood. When my mom revealed to me how it had been for her many years later, I could name it for her. My mom was a superb mom, but not maternal; she would have made a better friend than mom in many crucial ways, but in the end both she and I chose—I remain a work in progress, as did she—to remember the good parts of our shared lives. My therapist says where we put our attention creates our experience. Sometimes that exasperates me, sometimes that makes me feel peace, but I do believe it is true. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to attempt to articulate this as I work through the layers of the loss of my mom. Love to you today and tomorrow and each day as you move through these days with your mom. You have my admiration for your part in the chain of love for the children we all share in our next generation and the next and the next. xo.

    05/09/16
    3:44 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Katherine C. James, I would love to just move through the world, carrying love and forgiveness, love and forgiveness. Thank you for sharing your, as always, articulate and thoughtful reflections.

  • 05/07/16
    12:51 pm

    Reply

    Frances/Materfamilias said...

    Another one of those occasions when I wish we could sit down for a long lunch together. I’d break my one-glass-of-wine rule . . . Found a letter this week from my mother, written years ago, telling me that she wished she’d better understood her own mother’s love in time to let her know, because she got it by the time she was writing me the letter. She wished, in the letter, she’d done a better job but reminded me that we only get one chance. . . Etc., etc., so many version of this, over and over so that you might even hope it could be banal, trite, but it’s the most piercing, important emotional work we contend with at this stage, so many of us. As my own have moved into their own motherhood, there are other ups and downs to negotiate, I find, and my (shame-ful? or just embarrassing?) wish to be acknowledged as a Good Mother (or just as a beloved one, as in your Shower Thoughts) bump into their needs to be their own kinds of mothers for the moment. Such a complicated bundle. All of which is to say Do Take Care of yourself right now as well. . . This stuff is really demanding. Rewarding in odd ways, in unexpected moments, but really demanding. xo

    05/09/16
    3:47 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, So demanding. And in the moment it can feel beautiful and peaceful and revelatory and in the aftermath one is left with crushing numb exhaustion.

  • 05/07/16
    1:21 pm

    Reply

    Sydney Shop Girl said...

    Beautifully said, Lisa.

    Happy Mother’s Day to mom and yourself.

    SSG xxx

    05/09/16
    3:48 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Sydney Shop Girl, And to you and yours, whenever it comes in Australia! Thank you.

  • 05/07/16
    1:22 pm

    Reply

    Bungalow Hostess said...

    Mothering and parenting is hard work…is there anything more rewarding though when your children spontaneously take a moment to say thanks?
    Best given when you least expect it !

    Hope the new facility welcomes your mom and that she is able to settle in without too much fuss and bother.
    BTW there are a lot of lovely silk flowers available that look incredibly real.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you…

    05/09/16
    3:50 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, Best given any time at all!

    And, I found some great flowers at Pottery Barn. Protea, hydrangea, other stuff:).

  • 05/07/16
    2:45 pm

    Reply

    MJ said...

    Beautifully and honestly said. Thank you.

    05/09/16
    3:53 pm
    Lisa said...

    @MJ, Thank you. And you are more than welcome.

  • 05/08/16
    12:17 am

    Reply

    Helen Tilston said...

    Hello Lisa

    Wishing you and your dear mother a very Happy Mother’s Day.

    Helen xx

    05/09/16
    3:53 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Helen Tilston, So very good to hear from you! I hope you are well.

  • 05/08/16
    3:12 am

    Reply

    Susie said...

    I did not love my mother That is easy to write nowdays that i admit it She did not want to know any of us and had complicated problems as she did not know how to love anyone so i didnt take it personally Now i have forgiven and sadly forgotten her and i , through the years i tried to get to know her when her mother duties were over and i grew up and away But in the end she never really knew who i was , but now i see who she was Out of it all one happy day i myself became a mother I was super mom because of what i thought i missed Maybe i dissappeared into motherhood a little too much But my thankyou is seeing what great mothers my children have become Wow so great!!!

    05/09/16
    3:56 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Susie, It sounds as though you are honest with yourself, and your children have benefited from it.

  • 05/08/16
    5:45 am

    Reply

    Flo said...

    Happy Mothers Day, Lisa. You have told us in the past that were there a C. family coat of arms, it would contain the phrase “Thou Shall Be Excellent.” Reading your blog for as long as I have, it’s so obvious that you’re an excellent daughter and mother, and your excellence at nurturing these relationships continues to this day. Here’s to you!

    05/09/16
    3:56 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Flo, Oh, how sweet that you remember what I wrote. Thank you very much.

  • 05/08/16
    6:21 am

    Reply

    Kathy said...

    Happy Mother’s Day Lisa. I know it’s a bittersweet one for you too.

    05/09/16
    4:05 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, Oh, I have been thinking of you. Much love.

  • 05/08/16
    8:07 am

    Reply

    Theodore Bouloukos said...

    Wishing you and your mother a very peaceful and loving Mother’s Day.

    05/09/16
    4:05 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Theodore Bouloukos, Thank you so very much.

  • 05/08/16
    9:42 am

    Reply

    Lisa Chavez said...

    Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

    05/10/16
    2:32 am
    Lisa said...

    @Lisa Chavez, Yes, this!

  • 05/08/16
    5:50 pm

    Reply

    Ellen said...

    Been here, done this one, several times over. We found photos were the key. People remember the past far longer than they remember their present. A photo on her door, if it is permitted, of her children when they were young…which is how she will remember them…is a big help in recognizing the door. Pictures from the past can spark all sorts of conversations that never happened before, but which will be treasured for a long time to come, and may give you new knowledge or insight. Photos in the room will help to make her true self more real to the staff who see her every day; it will give then conversational entrees into her life, and help them to know her more fully. And as she talks about them, make notes; you will all want to remember what she shared, and who those other people were to her. I promise this will be true. Find the music that she loved when she was 30, and play it when you visit. (I scoured vintage music stores looking for big band music…my father found it so soothing). There are new ways to be a daughter, sometimes more frustating, but often a gift to you both.

    05/10/16
    2:46 am
    Lisa said...

    @Ellen, We have found, as you say, that old photos are the best way to give Mom something she recognizes. And for Mother’s Day, the place where she now lives offered a Dean Martin impersonator performance. Mom sang along a little bit.

  • 05/08/16
    5:54 pm

    Reply

    Janie said...

    WOW….reading all these comments made me feel normal in so many different ways. Thanks so much for such a thought provoking posting. Mothers….so complicated and so very, very close to our hearts….why do we feel so guilty?

    05/10/16
    8:00 am
    Lisa said...

    @Janie, I only wish I knew.

  • 05/09/16
    5:01 am

    Reply

    Marie said...

    Beautiful post, Lisa. Your comment to your mother at age 16 was mild! A friend told me about her teenaged daughter’s obnoxious habit – turning her head away while putting her hand up in a pushing away gesture, and saying, “Talk to the hand!” A friend who is an artist was told by her teenaged daughter, also an artist, “You have bad taste!”

    Boys are easier. My 17-yo is the easiest kid ever. He told me yesterday, “Thank you for being the best mom ever.” Sincere voice, with love shining out of his eyes. Going to college in the fall.

    I am incredibly fortunate to still have my mother, 90 years old, healthy and still so smart. I am so grateful. I was thinking yesterday of two aunts who had Alzheimer’s, the most cruel disease. I am so sorry about your mother.

    05/10/16
    8:23 am
    Lisa said...

    @Marie, It is great that your mother has retained her health and mind. And I wish your son great success in his college career – I don’t doubt that he will do wonderfully.

    I guess telling an artist she has bad taste is pretty bad;).

  • 05/09/16
    6:33 am

    Reply

    Susan said...

    I strongly believe that we, as mothers, do the best we can. That said, there can always be a few bumps along the way. In life, we can always find things that were done and could have been done better. Water over the dam. I say, let it go. Everybody, without exception, experiences the “I could have…”

    Th quality of imperfection is the grand equalizer! Keep that thought. Happy day, Lisa!

    05/10/16
    8:24 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan, “The quality of imperfection is the grand equalizer!” Ah, I find that quite profound. xoxo.

  • 05/09/16
    8:21 am

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    So many feelings…as the kids say, all the feels.

    I’ll give you a silk flower story as a Mother’s Day Gift (belatedly): My friends (sisters to each other) brought me a gorgeous orchid as a hostess gift. I dutifully cared for it for 6 months, watering it and tending it and congratulating myself on my orchid prowess. Until, finally, I realized it was silk. Told my friends – they didn’t know it was silk when they bought it!

    05/10/16
    8:25 am
    Lisa said...

    @Patsy, This is a brilliant story. Patsy at top form. Thank you. My sister and I fell about laughing.

  • 05/09/16
    9:27 am

    Reply

    Danielle said...

    Wow. It amazes me what parents will do for their children, and how children don’t often really know it… until we get older.

    I’m sure your children love you. They must! I hope they tell you. Maybe it’s not common in your family to say those things out loud? (In my family we do express ourselves a lot. The good and the bad things.)

    I’m thinking of having a child soon and this all resonates so much with me now.

    Happy belated Mother’s Day <3

    05/10/16
    8:35 am
    Lisa said...

    @Danielle, I’m going to say that a High WASP upbringing leaves one with some deficits in emotional communication;).

  • 05/09/16
    3:26 pm

    Reply

    Nicole said...

    This is so wonderful and honest, Lisa. Thanks for baring your soul this little bit, it resonated.

    05/10/16
    8:35 am
    Lisa said...

    @Nicole, Thank you very much. xoxox.

  • 05/10/16
    11:16 pm

    Reply

    jane said...

    beautiful, lisa. and as usual, well said.

    06/03/16
    6:55 pm
    Lisa said...

    @jane, Thank you.

  • 05/12/16
    10:33 am

    Reply

    Julia Jones said...

    Lisa,

    I am a long time reader, first time commenter. I greatly admire your work on this blog…It has all been said before by your other readers.

    I just wanted to thank you for honestly conveying the intricate, beautifully woven tale of the age-old Mother/Daughter story. Your “voice” is enchanting.

    I am deeply touched by what you wrote, and also feel sad for you and your Mother. She is fortunate to have a daughter that sees her, even if she is fading.

    06/03/16
    6:56 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Julia Jones, Thank you very much. I am so happy to meet you, and sorry to be responding so late. I feel sad for my mother too. I am doing the best I can, and, I do not know if it is good enough. Probably not. But still the best I can do.

  • 05/13/16
    9:06 am

    Reply

    Annie G said...

    I tend to argue more with my mum now than I did when I was a teenager. Bit sad but also sadly inevitable. I was never going to be a yes-girl. Picture an 87 year old and a 58 year old, hammer and tongs. Fundamentally we get on fine but our lives have been very different. On the plus side, she is more than capable of holding her own, despite the years. Sometimes I wonder if it will be the same with my own daughter – I suspect not. I don’t really believe that being a mother trumps all the other versions of myself, certainly not the self that I believe myself to be. Result: stormy.

    06/03/16
    6:57 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Annie G, Oddly, I envy you your stormy relationship. At least it must feel authentic? As though both of you can still fully engage?

  • 05/13/16
    8:06 pm

    Reply

    Annette said...

    Lisa, this made me teary. I hope your mom settles in easily to her new home. This must be so hard. xo

    06/03/16
    6:57 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Annette, It has been nowhere near easy. But thank you.

  • 06/03/16
    6:12 pm

    Reply

    Jeanette said...

    So many things, so many things. . .my mom passed away on April 17 after spending 7 months in a care facility. I won’t get into all the details of my relationship with her, it was complex, sad, tragic but in the end forgiveness and love prevailed. My only regret, I didn’t send her more flowers. That is truly it, I wish I had. Her birthday was May 8, Mother’s Day. Peace and comfort to you now, Lisa.

    06/03/16
    7:02 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jeanette, I am sorry she is gone, but, that is wonderful that in the end forgiveness and love prevailed.

    It is possible, that if you’d sent her so many flowers, as I have, then there’d be something else you’d realize you hadn’t gotten to.

    Or not.

    xoxox

  • 06/05/16
    9:12 am

    Reply

    Jeanette said...

    My sister said that very thing to me and that now is the time to just be at peace and process the loss, not regret things undone.

    Your mother is very fortunate to have a daughter like you as an advocate during this time. So many rough waters to navigate. As so many others have said, take good care of yourself as well. xoxo

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