Gratitude, Grief, Moments, Mother and daughter, Motherless Daughter

The Beauty of Mothers

There is a young Asian woman living across from me. She has a new baby, a young child, a partner and a mother. I’m aware of this not because I know her, we’re both relatively new to this neighborhood, but because throughout my day I catch glimpses into her life. My writing desk is situated close to a large window that looks down directly into the back of her home. Like us, the family has a large glass sliding door in their kitchen and I often see the young mother rocking baby or feeding baby or singing to baby on a wooden bench by their table. When I’m seated in our dining room their kitchen and patio is in my vision. This family has become familiar to me though I’ve never spoken to them. What has struck me the most from witnessing their interactions is the longing I feel, not for a baby as many might imagine given my age, but for my mother.

This woman’s mother is tiny. She wears her greying hair tied up in an Asian style knot where her glasses often rest. She shuffles about in slippers and wears a light pair of pants and a heavy mauve sweater that comes almost to her knees. Buttons run the entire length of her sweater on the back and she wears a turtle neck underneath, even when it’s sunny. It’s not like I’m spying on the family. Our glass windows face theirs and they spend a few hours a day on and off the patio, especially now that the weather is so warm.

What I’ve been noticing are the little things. How the old mother is so helpful; stepping inside the house for a paper towel that she hands out to her daughter with the baby, taking the empty food bowl from her daughter and bringing it inside while daughter rocks baby in the shade. This adorable little mother comes out with the mop when her daughter has taken the baby inside, and she rinses it out over and over, presumably after mopping the kitchen floor. I’ve watched her spoon feed the baby until the child’s mother came out, in her black and white tie-dye pajamas, ready to take over. I’ve seen her water the family’s plants and sweep dust from the doorstep.

These are the things I notice that touch me deeply because I am without my mother. It’s not that she lives far away or that I don’t get on with her or anything like that, it’s that my mother died and there is no hope that I’ll ever get to see her again. And so when I witness a woman with her mother, doing everyday things that most people take for granted, it stirs several emotions. Sometimes there’s jealousy and sometimes sorrow, and almost always that sudden intense reminder that I am motherless. Even after all these years. But there are other emotions too. Strong ones. I feel a rush of love for this mother and daughter and for the bond that they share. I want to dash over and tell them how lucky they are and how lovely. I’m certain that many daughters don’t realize how blessed they are in the moments. When that woman is holding her daughter’s baby, cooing into its ears, rocking it to sleep so that her daughter can have a little break, that is a gift so precious to behold.

Every relationship is different and I understand that mother-daughter relationships aren’t always smooth. I’ve known women who’ve lost their mothers after a tumultuous life-long relationship with them and yet they miss their mothers dearly. Each relationship is unique but from my point of view I know what I am missing. I’m missing a dear woman who would love to be a part of my life today and if I could have any of these little moments that my neighbor has with her mother, with or without the baby, for even a minute, I would take it. I would look deep into my dear mother’s eyes, I would touch her soft hand and I would say “Thank you. I love you.”

I’ve heard this quote though I don’t know who originally said it-

“Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother.”


11 thoughts on “The Beauty of Mothers

  1. Della Padnick says:

    So, beautifully written, heartfelt and brutally honest. It brought tears to my eyes, not only by the longing I sense from you and share as well, having lost my mother over 22 years ago, but also ones of joy. You see, like the older woman you describe, I am soon to be a grandmother for the first time, and I definitely picture myself doing the same things you describe – lovingly holding my granddaughter, helping my daughter with any little thing she needs as she adjusts to her own motherhood, which as I remember can be very trying at times. Nothing is more precious than the special moments we spend, even doing everyday things, with those we love. Thank you for bringing our attention to them, through your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carmel says:

      Thank you Della. I’m glad you liked the piece. You and your daughter and your grandchild have so much to look forward to together. Enjoy every special moment!


  2. Shantu Shah says:

    Prelude to Mother’s Day!

    Arun Gandhi and his wife Sunanda Gandhi wrote a memouir of his Grand Mother, “The Forgotten Woman” The Untold Story of Kadtur wife of Mohatma Gandhi.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Grammy says:

    Thank you for putting such small acts into beautiful words. I am a mother whose two daughters turned their backs on me after I divorced their father (for very good reasons). But I have been very blessed to care for my son’s little daughter for the past year. I treasure every moment with my granddaughter and try to help out in my son and daughter-in-law’s home so their life will be easier. There is always a blessing to be found if we search for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your comment. I am sorry to hear that your daughters turned their backs on you. That must be very hard on you. I am so happy that you have been blessed with a granddaughter to love and care for. Hugs, Carmel


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