I spoke on Jennifer Till’s radio show about how we can miss the joy of “now” with our mothers by relating to them based on past experiences. (Click here to listen to a recording of that episode of “Real Life with Jennfer Till.”)
Perhaps we had difficult childhood experiences with our mothers that we haven’t fully forgotten. It can even be positive memories from the past that distract of from new joys that are available now.
In my case, I fondly remember how my mother and I used to garden ourselves into exhaustion together. I laughed during the radio interview about how last year I asked my mom to come visit me for our local garden tours, and then marched her along at a pace that wasn’t appropriate for her anymore. I was remembering how it used to be for us rather than checking in with her to see what we could create now that would work for us both.
As we daughters tend to do, I was feeling a little guilty for being out of sync with her. But then a little miracle happened.
It is garden tour time again — one year after that too-fast “garden march” — and I’m visiting the gardens alone this year. It’s also my birthday week, and my mom surprised me with a gift that brought tears to my eyes.
I had forgotten that during those garden tours together, my mother was looking for ideas for a new kind of quilt. My mother is an expert quilter. I’ve never taken up the art myself, but I’ve always appreciated her quilting as a special gift she gives the world. During the tours of the gardens of the University of Virginia here in Charlottesville, my mom was inspired to create a quilt depicting the essence of those gardens — the serpentine walls, the tulip beds, and the spirit of Thomas Jefferson blessing those hallowed grounds.
For my birthday, my mom sent me that beautiful quilt (See the picture I’ve included here.) And I was reminded that even if I did rush her along a little too much, she still found her own joy during that time together. This mother-daughter love, it’s complicated and it’s sweet. It’s like a garden: growing, changing, and renewing itself in it’s own cycles.
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