This piece by Lynette Botha is the second in our Mother’s Day series exploring how becoming a mother to daughters can change your view of your own mother.
I’ve always been close to my mother. We often WhatsApp each other at the exact same time, as if by telepathy. When she visits, we drink sneaky glasses of wine together long before the Boeing has flown over. We both have an obsession with Country Road. And, now, we share something else too – the fact that we are both mothers of (two) daughters.
When my mom visits her grandchildren, her face lights up in a way that I can’t explain. It’s pure love. And my girls reciprocate the love. She is calm and patient with them; she reads them stories, plays games and fully commits all her attention to them.
The fact that my two daughters individually remind me exactly of my sister and I (same looks, personalities and idiosyncrasies) makes watching my mom with them almost nostalgic; as if I’m looking back on my childhood.
I’m not sure my relationship with her has changed as much as it has evolved. Becoming a mother yourself makes you see your mother in a new light. You understand the struggles; you realise how your heart will never be the same again – a mother’s love really cannot be explained.
Slowly pieces of memories from your past drift together to complete the puzzle – you understand why she ‘did that’, ‘said that’ and didn’t want you to go for a sleepover at Alice’s house. It all makes sense. You feel bad that you never ate your lunchbox sandwiches that were lovingly prepared with crusts removed and instead opted for hot chips from the tuckshop. You realise it was a really crap move to just leave your school clothes in a heap on the floor – she’s have to iron them again the next morning at 5am in order to get to school on time. So much comes to light. You also thank God that you were raised by a strong woman – a woman who juggled motherhood and a career, a woman who always put the family first, a woman who still messages you at midnight on a Saturday to make sure you’re home safely from the party.
It’s true: we do turn into our mothers, which is not always a good thing. I’ve definitely inherited her martyr ways – and she calls me on it often, but it’s inherent (and her fault, ha ha).
And it’s funny to me that no matter how old I get – or that I’m a mother myself – there are certain things that I still need her reassurance on. Are you sure I can eat this after the sell-by date? How do I wash my (Country Road) linen dress? She always has the answers, of course.
I read somewhere recently that women, unlike men, are born with all the cells (eggs?) they need (and will ever have) to produce a baby. Which means that the cells that became my girls were once inside my mother’s womb too – a strange thought to process, but an emotional one too. There’s nothing like a mother’s love – and nothing like a grandmother’s either.
The first piece in the series, by Cheska Stark, explores how becoming a mother radically changed her view of her own mother.
The third, by Zodwa Kumao-Valentine, shares the lessons she learnt on parenting from her mother.