I spent a few hours last Saturday signing books in a beautiful, quaint town square in a small, southern community. While sitting there, I watched people bustle in and out of bakeries and browse the decades-old shops that lined the shady streets.
Groups consisted of friends and other family members, but most of all I noticed the mother/daughter teams. They held colorful shopping bags and laughed heartily with one another as they strolled down the cracked sidewalk.
Young mothers toted chubby babies draped in bibs and ruffle pants. Moms of teenagers walked a few steps ahead while their young girls slowly followed them and scrolled through their phones. Older mothers held onto their elderly mamas’ arms and helped them navigate the steep step into the boutique. I saw mothers and daughters at every stage of life− spending precious time with one another.
Before my own beautiful mother passed away last year, I never really noticed the mother/daughter dynamic everywhere I went. I paid no special attention to them shopping, enjoying lunch, whispering in the movie theater or appearing on my Facebook newsfeed with faces pressed close together. It was just another mom and her girl. It meant nothing to me.
But now that I have this indescribable void in my life, I notice it everywhere I go. I hold back tears as I watch strangers pass me with their moms at their sides. When I overhear them speaking in the restaurant booth behind me, jealousy consumes me. I see that older woman help her darling, elderly mother find a seat in the doctor’s office and I remember how I joked with my own mom that I would be the one to put the tennis balls on her future walker. I feel gipped when I look around my children’s cafeteria and notice the grandmothers sharing lumpy mashed potatoes with their grandchildren.
I didn’t fully appreciate those times my mother and I went shopping, saw a movie or even talked on the telephone for hours on end. At times I even complained- complained that she wanted to sniff every Estee Lauder sample, try on one more pair of shoes, order dessert or tell me, in detail, how they removed that mole on her shoulder. I was busy. I had other things to do. I needed to get home and empty the dishwasher or feed the dogs or watch a television show. I didn’t always cling to those moments with my sweet mama.
My daughter is ten. I think I’ll ask if she wants to go shopping and spend some quality time together this weekend. She may drag behind me, bored to tears and wishing she could get home to her iPod, but one day she’ll appreciate and think fondly of the time we shared.
Cherish your mothers. Cherish the errands and meals and telephone calls. Let her tell you that same story again. Let her run into one more store. Let her do what she wants as long as you can do it with her. Some motherless girl is watching you− coveting your relationship and that beautiful gift you have at your side.
All she has now are memories.