Parenthood has been peppered with tons of opportunities for introspection and growth. I’ve had some pretty powerful experiences that have flowered out of relatively ordinary situations; experiences that have allowed me to step back and gain a different perspective. And these opportunities are more common than I think I was originally aware of — the times that I spend with my mother and my daughter give me a chance to see things as an “adult child”.

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I was certainly not winning any awards for my behavior as a teenager, and continued to fail at being the greatest daughter as I crept into my adult years. I know that this caused some damage to my relationship with my mother. My behavior was sometimes downright embarrassing. Looking back now, I don’t know how she was so tolerant and forgiving. But she was. I can only imagine that she saw me, and maybe sometimes still sees me, as I see my young daughter: innocent, loving, full of hugs and kisses and silliness. It must be sad to see your child grow up and not make the choices that you had hoped for them. But my mom gave me a long leash and soft place to land. And that, I suppose, is unconditional love.

I hope that I can more than just be aware of the mistakes that my mother and I made; I hope that I can learn from them and change some of the unhealthy behaviors and choices. But I also need to remember to accept that my daughter will be who she needs to be, will make mistakes, grow wings, and reach for those stars, although it may be scary for me to sit back and see. Because if I don’t accept this fact, I’m going to make motherhood a painful experience for everyone — but especially for myself.

Taking a step back and observing the relationship between my mother and my daughter has brought my parenting full-circle. It’s allowed me to appreciate my mom more, and to be a little more patient with both my daughter and my mother. My daughter treats Grandma how I should be treating her. And I am learning from my daughter how to be a better kid, because I’m relatively sure that’s how my mom will always see me — as a kid. It’s a work in progress, much like everything I suppose. Familial relationships are many times not without their struggles and heartbreaks, but my scope has widened. Thanks, Mom. I certainly don’t say it enough.

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