24 Nov Screaming Mothers. And Humming Daughters.
Dear Big Daughter Sade,
This morning I was helping your grandmother prepare for a night of literature and dessert at her design store cafe – Plantation House. She had invited forty guests and was getting rather stressed about the upcoming event. She’d asked me to drive her to the grocery store early in the morning to help buy supplies for the marathon of baking she would be doing. Of course I was happy to oblige. I was up at 5am working on a speech, then walked next door and greeted her with a smile at 7.30am.
She was not happy. “I told you I wanted to go to the store EARLY. I told you I have lots of work to do today. If you don’t want to be helpful then you shouldn’t have said that you would drive me.”
Huh? I smiled. Reassured her that yes, of course I wanted to be helpful. After all, the event was an advance Launch nite for my Telesa book. I was at her complete disposal. My every waking breath would have her name on it.
She still wasn’t happy. “I can’t be waiting around for you while you take your time waking up. I have places to go. Do you know how any things I have to get done today? You have no idea how much work is required for today. And I have a shop to run. And I have workers to supervise. And I have…blah blah blah.”
Huh? I smiled. Again. Told her, I’m ready to go. I’ve been ready to go since 5am. Here I am. The shops don’t open until 8am which is why I didn’t walk down here sooner.
She wasn’t interested in my story. She huffed. Ignored me. Stalked out the door and started walking up the driveway. Muttering to the flowers and trees about rotten, useless, lazy, selfish daughters.
Huh? I didn’t want to smile anymore. But. I took a deep breath. My mum had a lot on her plate. I would be patient. Helpful. Kind. Supportive. Be nice Lani. I started humming a little happy song under my breath as I got in the car and chased after her. She got in my car. “I should have gotten a taxi to town. Much more reliable and more helpful than you are.”
I smiled. At the trees. The flowers. And I hummed my little happy song under my breath. She snarled. “What are you looking like that for? Why are you humming that song for?! Are you being rude now?!You better stop that.”
I had no more smiles left in me. I was ready to explode. Self-combust in a telesa induced flame attack. And then? I had a vision. A flashback. Of you, my daughter, humming a little song the last time I was snappy and stressed and aggravated. The last time I was barking out orders and perhaps being just the teensiest bit unreasonable. Yes, you hummed a little song. Bravely. And you had a faraway smile on your face. And I had mistaken it for defiance. And yelled at you more. ‘Don’t you try to ignore me when I’m speaking to you girl! And stop humming that song – I know what you’re trying to do, you’re deliberately trying to annoy me! Stop it.’
I had a rare, precious moment of clarity. I looked at my mother and saw myself. In all her creative fury and impatient energy. And I understood her so much better.
And then I thought of you Sade, and I saw myself – in your efforts to be more patient and more understanding of a mother who often defies definition because she’s furiously creative and energetically impatient. (translation: MEAN.) Right there and then, I resolved – to come home a nicer, more patient mother to you. And to tell you that I’m sorry. For the times I’ve been so mean. I’m going to try harder. Be better. I promise.
Right after I first make it through this day with my mother. Without exploding.
With love from,
P.S The Telesa Advance Launch at Plantation House was a beautiful event. All thanks to my mother. She’s 70 yrs old and still can work harder and envision brighter than anyone else I know. What do we learn from this experience? Every adult woman with daughters should return home and spend some time with her mother. So they can remember what it feels like to be a daughter. And learn anew, what their mother endured to raise them.