It was raining the other day, and my newly-willful toddler refused to put on her coat. “Rain-nin, Mama. Outside!” she called joyfully. So I acquiesced, and took my little girl out in the rain, unshielded.
After a few steps, she turned her little face up to mine and said, “Wet!” as she touched her own cheek wonderingly with an outstretched hand. She was enthralled by the misty coating of water she was gathering on her head, and I was equally thrilled.
You see, I love a rain shower too. In fact, I love a thunder storm. I can’t wait to watch the clouds speed across the sky, and the light change from bright to dark in a flash. And lightning? Well, what’s more magical than that?
My mother always made a thunder storm an event in our house. We would sing songs or dance around when it rained, and if the lights went out, it was a full-on party. Usually planning a picnic of some kind, my mom would lay out a blanket, light candles and turn on flashlights, and we would giggle our way through the meal feeling like we were getting away with something pretty sneaky.
And we also thought we had the most fun mommy ever.
Imagine my surprise when I found out as an adult that my mother, the inventor of those mystical candle-lit nights, is terrified of a thunder storm. Always has been, apparently. When I am stunned by this revelation, she shrugs her shoulders and says, “I couldn’t let you kids be scared of them too.”
Whenever I think I’m doing a fair job parenting my almost-two-year-old, a story like this stops me short. Well, yes, I suppose it was a nice thing for me to let my child experience the rain without a coat or umbrella. But how much more has my mother contributed to my daughter’s love of rainy weather considering she’s transformed her own fears into a joy so intense that it’s spanned two generations?
If I am an okay mother at this point, it is only because I have good instincts. Books and prepackaged strategies can be important in a way, but although I don’t know much, I do know that whatever the books say completely abandons me in a crisis. Under pressure, I have to rely on my instincts and, as I was reminded by the rainy day incident, although my instincts come to me freely, my mother paid for them at some cost.
My friends seem to experience similar situations as well. If I’m exasperated and ask a pal for advice, she’ll usually give me a wonderful suggestion that I had never considered. When I thank her, she’ll often say, “Oh, that’s just what my mother always did.”
I am regularly thankful for the wonderful community of women I have found myself a part of as I begin this journey into motherhood. But it’s not until recently that I realized I should also be extremely grateful for the mothers of the mothers. The mothers of my friends influence my life as much as my own friends do, in many cases.
So on this Mother’s Day, I will toast not only the wonderful mothers I know, but also the mothers who’ve made their daughters my good friends and allies in this amazing journey of motherhood.