I love my mother, that is fact. She is too many things to me, this is also fact. She is my light, an inspiration, the definition of strength and perhaps most important of all – she is the basis behind my fundamentals and the person, woman, that I am.
But my mother is also difficult. This is fact.
She is straightforward to a fault and headstrong like no other. She has developed, affirmed, sharpened, and validated her skills and credentials; in short, she knows her worth professionally and personally. My mother is an overbearing presence in my life, for as long as I can remember. She has this uncanny, unique way of being in my life while still being miles away, physically and metaphorically. Maybe it is because I am too much like her. Maybe it is because I carry her in my heart. Maybe unconsciously, I gravitate and relocate my center to where she is – wherever she is in that moment.
My mother is far from perfect, but she has always been Mother, or Mum, to me.
A friend recently asked, “Did your mum force you to come home?” I shook my head. “Then why is it so hard for you to live away from home?” I know my mother as many things, but she has never not been Mother, or Mum, to me. How, where, do I begin to explain this inexplicable bond, one that is deeply felt and infinitely complicated, between us? “She has an overbearing presence in my life,” I began. “But she’s always supported me. Why, how did you think I was able to travel the world and venture out and whatnot? Because she supported me financially, physically – everything. But the unspoken deal, in a way, was always that she allowed me to set out …and in return, come home when the time is up.”
And I’d forgotten to note early on that I am not the same person, girl, I was when I left.
Growing up and living with my mother has not been easy. Who am I kidding? Even now, in adulthood, it isn’t. I’ve just become extremely skilled in navigating the choppy waters and rocky shores. My mother is difficult, that is fact. I love her in spite of her shortcomings and flaws, this is also fact. Understand, please, that I mean no ill will towards her with what I’m about to say. Our bond is intricate and complicated, as much as it is tightly knotted.
My mother is the sort of person who, if you do not define yourself – she will take it upon herself to do it for you. If you do not identify your self-worth, she will place a value on you, for you. If you do not have a direction, she will draw it out on the map for you. My mother values strength and intelligence; she believes, for instance, regardless how kind and capable a man is, a woman needs to be self-sufficient and capable in the event of emergencies. When it comes to job hunting and life in general, my mother believes bravery isn’t in choosing to do what you want to do, but in deciding to opt for the next best thing (“because when do you get exactly what you want, when you want it, in the form you want it?!”). My mother is a trailblazing fire, an enigma, a force to be reckoned with – but always, always: Mother. I know no other.
And this, this is why, it is so important to know myself.
Because if I give in for even a moment, she will fill in the gaps of who I am with her interpretation and opinions about myself. I have realized – annoyingly, after one too many times – that seven out of ten times, she is always right. Don’t you just hate that? I do. Yet I fight for the remainder three over ten times anyway, because if I do not claim ownership for my person, my thoughts, my life directions -mine this, mine that…
…am I my mother’s daughter, or my mother?
Sometimes I think I don’t know how to be twenty-four in her presence.
I am twenty-four and I feel, down to my bones and wholeheartedly, that I am different this year. Grown. I feel and believe this: I am now an adult. My years away from home have taught and embedded in me many things, including the realization that I am not incapable to lead a life of my own. Away, if need be. A totally separate career from hers, if I desire. An entirely different life path and personal development, if I choose to.
She has raised me well. I know to hold my own.
Sometimes I wish, with all the kindness in my heart, that she acknowledges this.
Because Mother, you built me these wings and even trimmed the feathers so that they’re never out of order – I acknowledge and recognize everything you stand for in my life. But I am my mother’s daughter – not my mother. I am my mother’s daughter and I would never readily and openly admit this, if I never believed in my own self-worth and capabilities.
I am not you, and that’s okay. That’s okay.
I need you to trust that even though it might take me some time, I will fly and eventually, soar.