“Tutti careened down the stairs, arms full of books, and zinged herself into her mother’s lap. Wayan laughed and kissed her daughter, all the sadness about the divorce suddenly gone from her face. I watched them, thinking that little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women.” – Eat Pray Love, Liz Gilbert.
Someone told me some days ago about how hard it was for him to keep his best friends. I told him it was easy for me; mine has always been my mother. We are bound by blood and genetics and absolutely everything in common, to be best friends. I might have my school friends, who are more family than friends. I may have the BMM-family who have seen me through my angriest and ugliest years. I may have had the ex-es and now have the S.O who knew/know the intricacies of my daily life. But none of them, not even all together, come close to the relationship I share with my mother.
We have fought with each other, sworn at each other, sulked and screamed; but for 22 years, she has been my person. Across countries and cities and continents, she’s always the first to know about my good grades, my first kisses, my job rejections, my breakups. I have done very little wrong in her eyes; simply because I am her, and its hard to face the flaws and drawbacks in ourselves.
We must have lost track of the number of people, from strangers to family, from friends; hers and mine, who have seen us together and called us the same people and remarked on our bizarre similarities – the way we answer the phone, the way we have to read when we eat, the way we will lend people our jewellry and clothes but rarely ever our books, the way we are loud and squeaky to compensate for our size, the way we are obssessed with buttons and bows and objects with feet, the way we need music to work/study, and the way we doodle on anything we can find when we’re having intense conversations.
I don’t miss home too much, truth be told. Over the years, thanks to my parents, I learnt to make home wherever I go. What I do miss, everyday, is that time in the evening, when I used to crawl into bed with my mother, and tell her stories about my day and listen to her vent about hers, while we listened to music and revelled in the quiet normalcy of each others company. An unconscious routine that we’ve perfected over the years. I’ll talk about my day over coffee with my flatmates, or at odd-hours of the morning over shared drags of cigarettes with the S.O – but its never the same.
Liz Gilbert got it wrong. I won’t grow up to be a powerful woman because I make my mother live. I’ll become a powerful woman because she makes me live. It’s the mothers, not the daughters that make life worth living, and make the world a bearable place to be.
Happy 50th, MommyMathews.