My mom turned 70 this year.
Last year, my dad turned 70, and two of my three sisters and I met up with him in Ohio, along with his sisters and our cousins, for a huge family reunion.
We wanted to do something equally special for my mom. As an only child, she doesn’t have a huge family to gather.
So instead, my sister Pam and I shared the cost of a plane ticket and flew my mom from Florida to my house. My sister Kim surprised us all and also made the trip — which included flying from Albany, NY, to Charlotte, to Omaha, and then driving 3 hours to my house. And then doing it all over again, with a stop in Philadelphia, and into a hurricane, on the way home. My third sister couldn’t make it.
We jumped through a few hoops to make this happen, but it was important, and worth it.
I don’t know a daughter who doesn’t have some rocky past with her mom. Maybe I’m only friends with dysfunctional people. I don’t know. But moms and daughters aren’t always like some Hallmark commercial. It’s one of the things I’m most afraid of raising a daughter.
I don’t write a lot about my relationship with my mom. I mean, it’s fine. My childhood was fine. I have no patience for people who constantly lament their upbringing and blame all kinds of things on it. I take responsibility for my life and decisions and don’t blame my parents, who were doing the best the could do. We’re all doing our best.
With my own two children, I’m aware of how I want to be different, and how hard parenting is, every day. And I look at my own kids and think, my god, please don’t let me mess this up.
I’ll know when my kids are teenagers how you go from rocking a sweet toddler to slamming doors and saying things you regret, I’m sure.
So though I went many years without speaking to my mother, and so have my sisters, we’ve all come around in the past few years and said, you know, this is life. I’m not going to dwell on it. Discuss it. Forgive it. Forget it. But I am going to just move on. Because I’ll never lay on my death bed and think, man, I wish I had kept holding that grudge against my mother (or whoever).
I’ll always wish I had been kinder, more compassionate, more thoughtful. That I had been the adult, even at times when I just wanted to be the child. When I was the child.
So with that in mind, we celebrated my mom’s 70 years. With photos. Dinner. Wine. A lot of wine. Did I mention wine?
And it was wonderful. And my mom felt special, I know it. She enjoyed time with her daughters. Two of her 9 grandchildren.
She drew a horse for my son, Jack. Which made me cry — she had a horse when she was growing up, and used to draw one for me when I was little. She took 100 pictures of Viv, and I was able to get a video of them snuggling and saying they loved each other.
No matter what happened in our lives, I know at one point she held us all on her lap, breathed in our hair, and told us how much she loved us. She does it again now.
It doesn’t matter what happened in between.