She was a first time mother at the age of 23.
The year was 1972.
I can’t even imagine.
I became a mother at 36.
Not that I knew any more than she did. But the 13 years I waited to start a family I believe gave me a greater sense of self, not to mention over a decade more life experience.
Having a child changes everything, no mater what age you are.
I love this photo.
There’s so much I wish I could ask this young woman. Deep mysteries and trivial information I would have loved for her to reveal to me.
Was she happy? Was she worried about being a good mother? Did she have close girlfriends to confide in? Was her mother helpful after I was born? How did she feel when her father held me for the first time? What made her feel special? What book was she reading? Where did she like to shop for clothes? What did she have breakfast? What was her favorite flower?
The questions are endless.
The look on her face in this photograph has always intrigued me. It’s equal parts exhaustion, bewilderment, adoration and indifference. Sums up motherhood pretty well, especially in those early newborn days. There is a lot going on behind those Mona Lisa eyes.
I’ve stared at this photograph for hours over the years and the longer I look at it, the more I see myself. Not 23 or 36 year old me, but me today.
I want to be a different mother to my children than my mother was to me, more open, more involved, a reflection of her best characteristics. Like she, I’m flawed in my own ways.
I learned many valuable lessons from my mother; the importance of sending thank you cards, how to celebrate holidays, the pure joy that can be found in a chocolate chip cookie and how to relax.
There are still so many questions for the women in the photo.
I miss her.
I miss a relationship I never had with her. I miss a relationship I could have had with her.
I think our relationship would have bloomed once I became a mother. I would have turned to her like I never was able to as a child.
Luckily, we all have two opportunities to have that mother/daughter bond. Once as a child when we have absolutely no control and again as mothers ourselves. If Mother’s Day is difficult for you too, please remember that.
If you have a difficult relationship with your mother, if your mother is gone, or you are struggling to became a mother, you are not alone.