There was a time when my lap was the best place to be! I only had to hold my arms out and they would begin to wriggle their legs with delight, falling over in their haste to get close. Before long, they were old enough to view cultural events. They sat on either side, taking their cues for applause from me. “Was that good?” they would peer up in the auditorium dark. To an affirmative nod, they would respond with vigorous assent accompanied by an enthusiastic clap. Those were the days, Mamma Mia.
It was my lipstick, my handbag, my bindi and my bangles that they fooled around with. More often than not, Mamma was right. But unknown to us, the seasons were turning and all of a sudden, in a rapid blur, it was my turn to peer at them in the auditorium dark, “What is your opinion of this performance?” From babes, they had evolved into aware, well informed young adolescents, not afraid to speak their minds. It was to be expected that this fearless, honest and fair approach to the world around them would also extend into their relationship with the mother.
Gradually, through an evolving interaction, I began to see their separateness, the individual minds, readying for journeys of their own. It was difficult at times to see the same impartial lens trained on me that they trained on everything else in their lives.
I have wondered since their flight from home: Adam and Eve or the mother and child? Which really is the most primal, basic, original and first human relationship? If it is the latter, which is more empowering; mother and son or mother and daughter? From all accounts, I think it most certainly is the latter. I for instance, can talk about things with my mother that may even seem trivial to my brother. Mom is my platinum guarantee card, wired to assure, reassure and ensure. She knows me better than I know myself. Where else would you find another being so aligned alongside you and ever ready to give your own engine the thrust, for that all important lift off?! Mamma Mia is everything, the launch pad, the recovery pad as also the maintenance pad.
But a realization of the power and influence of this relationship takes some time coming. It is when the daughter becomes a mother herself that she finally begins to see what Mom was saying all along. It is called the cycle of life, an eternal rite of passage. It begins with the arrival of a helplessly dependent bundle, goes through a stage of complete control over the small life so as to ensure its growth and survival and tapers to the cool off period when Mom must start to pull away, so that the daughter can be what she is meant to be.
As I watch my own girls grow today, I am filled with gratitude towards my own Mom who is the reason I am what I would love them to be…. independent and strong willed but also filled with compassion and a generous understanding of others.