I didn’t turn out like my mother expected. And for several years as she watched me make choices she didn’t understand or agree with, Mama was confused, sad, and sometimes a little angry. Mostly, though, she was just worried and scared for me, which can happen when you love someone fiercely.
But over time, she not only accepted my choices, but also protected them. When I first started going to art school, she couldn’t understand how I could stop consulting and give up “all that money.” Years later when I moved from studio art to performance, Mama remarked, “Well, I certainly hope you don’t give up your visual work.” My jaw dropped at how far we’d come. Then when I received a terrific performance opportunity, she said, “Thank God you live in New Hampshire. This would have never happened if you lived in North Carolina,” which at one point was her dream for me – living a life she recognized somewhere in the South.
Mothers and their Daughters
Since I don’t have children, I’m spared maternal angst. But I’m watching my dearest friends negotiate this particular ground with their kids, especially their daughters, whom they’ve worked so hard to rear as strong, independent young women. I recently complimented a close friend on raising a seemingly fearless daughter who knows her own mind. “Thanks,” my friend said and then added with a sigh, “I just wished she thought like me sometimes.”
My dear friend Heddy, mother to my godchild Ellie, faces the same challenge/opportunity with her oldest, Ann Lowry. Ann Lowry recently spent the summer in Ecuador with a college program. At some point during the trip, she asked her mother to sign off on an activity that was not part of the school’s curriculum or within Ann Lowry’s expertise – climbing a 19,000-foot active volcano, complete with glaciers. To her credit, Heddy gave her approval, while saying to me, only half joking, “Why can’t she just shop?”
A Creative Expression of Love
Ann Lowry continues to push her own boundaries, and like daughters everywhere, her mother’s buttons at the same time. She depicted this universal dynamic in the student film she recently created during her last semester at Wake Forest. Made and received with great love, the short film (4 minutes) paints a beautiful, funny portrait of a conflicted daughter who wants to both honor her mother and become her own person. Believe me – we can all relate.
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