Being a daughter has never been easy for me. As hard as it may be to believe, I have always been a control freak and have never taken kindly to being told what to do. Even has a child I was always convinced I knew better than my own mother.
This complicated our relationship a bit.
Becoming a mom myself has softened our relationship. Having a teenager has made me eternally grateful that she did not sell me.
I originally published this piece last year, May 29, 2011 titled Touchstones. Since it’s always been one of my favorites, I’m glad to re-visit it for Mother’s day.
Each day I do the “morning tango.” First, I get my daughter on her bus, blow her a kiss, return to the front door, and then come back out again with my youngest. After he gets on his bus with a kiss and a smile, once again I go into the house only to come back out half an hour later to drive my oldest son to middle school.
Each time, I dash in and out of my door, I get to see a little piece of my childhood and one of my most treasured possessions… my quartz rock.
The rock sits among shrubs from our home’s previous owners and some flowers and perennials I planted. At about a foot long, the rock blends in with its surroundings and also stands out as something special and unique.
Just like it did when it was in my mother’s garden. First in the house we lived in until I was 9 and then at the house my parents remain in today.
As a young girl, I loved sitting outside and daydreaming among the flowers my mother carefully tended. I would imagine the rock as a large diamond fit for a princess or a magical crystal that held the secrets of the world. It could be whatever I wanted it be.
Yet it was special and beautiful in its own right–catching sunlight and throwing off rainbows.
I was never clear how my mom got the unusual stone. As a child, I loved to think of all the mysterious places it could come from. Years later, I learned my mother’s uncle found it on his travels and gave it to my grandmother, who then gave it to my mom.
I can still remember my mom weeding and planting her little rock garden in the front of our first house. Neighbors would stop by and chat with her, telling her the latest news or gossip. Many people commented on the unusual quartz.
My mother was so young and beautiful. I loved to talk to her whenever she was gardening. My mom was always on the run with many obligations, PTA president, ambulance corps volunteer, church obligations, or helping a friend. I had a lot of competition for her time.
I loved that for the time she was in her garden, she could be mine. I would sing to her or just chat about my day.
When we moved, the rock went with us. I would see it in the new garden and take comfort that at least something was the same.
Once we moved, my mother started working in real estate and her time became even more precious, but she would still find time to putter in her garden and the rock, my sisters, and I would be there.
I wonder what my children will use as their touchstone to me as they grow older. Will the rock have some significance to them? Or will they remember me obsessively going over the rose bushes and getting mad at any aphids nervy enough to eat my beloved flowers?
Or the times they come with me to cut my flowers and then sit with me as I make a flower arrangement for one of their teachers, a friend, or just for them.
Will the sight of a book I read to them bring them back to a happy time in their life as they remember the silly voices I used to make the characters come alive? Or the songs I sang to them when I rocked them to sleep?
Will the sound of fingers on a keyboard remind them of me sitting in my room typing my blog? Will they remember sitting on my bed, watching TV, arguing with each other until I yell, “For the love of all that is holy, knock it off.”
What is the legacy I will leave my children? What memory will comfort them when I no longer can?
The years are rolling on, and my face is looking more like my mother’s. As much as I am my own person, I notice some of my mom’s mannerisms seeping into mine. Time is moving on, and we are getting older. I know one day I am going to look outside and the rock will be something that comforts me when my mom no longer can.
One day I will not be able to call my mom up and ask her to watch the kids, reserve a machine at the gym, or go for a cup of coffee. At that point, our infamous arguments and fights will no longer matter. Who got what, or who said what to who, will cease to matter. All I will have left is a crystal rock and the memory of the beautiful mother who I adored yet could not always understand.
Thankfully, I still have today to make a call.