The Thread of Love
The relationship between mother and child is a complex one, shifting and changing as the years pass. Having written Memory Books for many clients over the last few years, I’ve learned that mothers are also daughters, friends, sisters, wives, lovers, grandparents and great grandparents. They are adventurers, home makers, professionals and protectors. Their memories tell their story and their stories shape the lives of their families.
I’m very close to my mother. Over the years, the dynamic of our relationship has changed and our roles continue to evolve. The thread of love between parent and child expands and contracts with time and circumstance. Sometimes it stretches nearly to breaking point. But if the thread is strong enough, the elasticity keeps the connection safe until it’s ready to tighten again.
Childhood love is supremely selfish. A child sees his or her parents in one dimension and the unconditional love that mothers show their children can only truly be understood when children become parents. It’s only then that parental love becomes three dimensional and only then can its depth and breadth be seen from all angles.
Like most children, I went through phases of being irritated by my mother; teenage rebellion compelled me to argue and dismiss her suggestions and support. I thought I knew best. I was determined to enter womanhood on my own terms and without reference to the complexities of her life. I tested the strength of that elastic thread but I was puzzled. However hard I pushed away, the thread refused to snap.
When I married, the thread grew shorter again and I was so proud to be able to share my happiness with her. I started to see things through her eyes and began to appreciate the new dimension in our relationship.
Having children brought our love firmly into the third dimension. I needed my mother and pulled on the thread with as much force as I had pushed on it before. Together, we made and shared memories and became co-conspirators in the game of motherhood. In all this, my mother was wise enough to keep the thread at an acceptable length for both of us. Not too tight but tight enough.
Now that I am getting older and my children are beginning to test the strength of their own threads, I can appreciate my mother all the more. It hurts to feel them push away but I know it has to happen. It’s meant to happen. My own mother’s love has shown me that if I let the elastic stretch, they will return and our relationship will be all the better for it.
Now my Dad has passed away, the thread has tightened again and my love for my mother has come full circle. I feel privileged to be able to pull the thread close to my heart.
Mother’s Day is tomorrow. If I can make any suggestions, it would be to ask those questions, write down those stories and record your mum’s voice telling you about your childhood. You won’t regret it. Happy Mother’s Day to all those mums, stepmums and grandmas out there!