“Your family is the most important relationship in your life”
“If you make one good friend in your life, you’ve done well.”
Both have held true, and I live by them. But there is another that she has said more often than anything else, over and over again.
“There is nobody like my Lainie”
Truer than anything she has ever said. Lainie is her daughter – my mother.
I read an insightful post on ModernMom the other day, Lessons on Parenting I Learned from my Mom by Denise-Marie Martin that got me thinking about the lessons I have learned about being a daughter from my mom.
There are some things that cannot be taught or learned in the “do this” and “don’t do that” kind of way. These things are taught by setting an example and learned by being an observer.
The kind of daughter that you are becomes more important the older you get. When you are young, you have endless opportunities to make your mother proud. When you are older your opportunities are more about doing right by them and for them. It’s a whole different kind of pride now in my grandmother’s eyes when she says “there’s nobody like my Lainie” because it is pride that is saturated with gratitude.
My grandfather had his first stroke when I was 12 years old. Shortly after that, he lost the ability to drive. From that day forward, my mother became a daughter that was a companion, caregiver, drive and advocate. My grandfather passed away a few years after that first stroke and my mother has been all of those things and more for my grandmother.
This is what I have learned about being a good daughter from my mother:
1. Respect is different from duty. My mother cares for my grandmother as she has for all of these years out of respect that is beyond being bound by duty. She cares for her as she does because she respects her and because she loves her and she deserves all of that and more.
2. Listen – Listen to her because she needs to talk. She might tell you the same things over and over again, but she needs to say them. She says things like she is telling you them for the first time, listen to her like you are hearing them for the first time.
3. Be what she needs – sometimes it is a companion, sometimes it is an advocate, sometimes it is a caregiver. Like being a mother, adapt to her needs.
4. It’s ok to “lie” to your mother. This one is my favorite and we joke about it a lot. It would make my grandmother crazy if my mother or any of us were sick. We don’t tell her those things. When she asks how are you? The best answer is great, followed with some good news or a funny story. She lives to hear our good news.
5. Pick your battles. There are some things that just aren’t worth arguing about. She says, "I’m cold, put on a hat even though it’s 70 degrees” or “don’t lift that basket of laundry, you’ll hurt yourself” – just do as she says. There are somethings that just aren’t worth asserting yourself over. The older you get you realize that it’s not always important to be right.
6. Wishing you had done more when it’s too late is not an option.
7. Call your mother.
For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has always said it “there’s nobody like my Lainie”. When I was young, we rolled our eyes and said, “ya ya, we know.” Today, when I hear her say it, I know how very true it is. I can see what my mother means to her. I have seen what it means to be a good daughter. I have quite an example to follow. I can only hope that one day, my mother will look at me with all the love and pride that is in my grandmother’s eyes when she looks at her daughter.
Candace Alper is the Creator/Executive Producer of Name Your Tune - personalized CDs for children. She knows a thing or two about work/life balance and striving to do it all because she is also a mother, wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter, friend and volunteer. Candace's primary goal is always to set an example for her daughter demonstrating what it looks like to work hard, meet challenges, hit deadlines and celebrate successes. Creating a product that fosters positive self-esteem and brings joy and music into the lives of families makes some take-out dinners and unmade beds okay for this entrepreneur and her family.