L to R: Jill Friedman Rickman, Sally Friedman, Amy Friedman Appelbaum and Nancy Friedman Zinn.
To My Daughters:
No, not an email this time. Not a harried cell phone conversation to review your days, mine, or logistics for some family event.
This time, what I’m trying to get said in a more formal way is how I felt — and feel — about being your mother.
Not such a simple subject. And definitely an emotionally loaded one for me.
So bear with a very overwhelmed mom who is hoping that somehow, some way, I can tell you what being your mother means to me — and what I hope you’ve sensed through the chaos of what we affectionately call the “mother-daughters bond…”
If I have succeeded in the endless struggle to teach you everything I care about in this world, then you already know that motherhood has been the most important work of my life.
If I have transmitted anything of value to you three, my adored, wonderful, fierce daughters, let it be this: Despite all the fusses and feuds — the madness of your adolescences — the hidden clauses of the motherhood contract that should read “hired for life’’ — then I will feel fulfilled.
If I’ve helped you to understand the combination of pride and loss that washed over me when you three had the audacity to grow up and leave — or the joy I felt when you found the husbands you did and stepped into lives of your own, then my role as your mom will have been somewhat validated.
I would not have traded in mothering you for all the riches or power or fame in the universe.
It was a beautiful enough shock to fall in love with your father, and to feel, in that love, the possibility of loss. But to fall in love with a child — to do it three times — well, that’s a love of a different order, an all‑absorbing, overwhelming, blinding love that blurs anything you have known before.
It also leaves you more vulnerable than you could ever have imagined.
It happened to me. And now, it’s happened to all three of you, as looked into the faces of your babies, and the world tipped away.
Mother’s Day always brings into sharper focus what we who are mothers have known all along: that the very best and purest of this thing we call love — unconditional, aching, beautiful, wonderful and even a little scary — is what we deliver when we become mothers.
It certainly isn’t always evident. Not when we nag and wheedle, yell and discipline. Not when tempers erupted over matters as monumental as values, and as miniscule as whose turn it was to clear the table, and why that skirt really was too short to be decent.
I think of the times we retreated to our separate corners to nurse our wounds, of the tears shed and the doors slammed shut and the angry words hurled. But then, somehow, we have always danced back into each other’s hearts, mindful that we may never agree on anything, let alone everything — but that we can still be the best kind of forgiving, accepting friends.
How complicated this mother‑daughter ballet, with all its intricate moves. How easy to be blinded and blindsided by the ferocity of feelings.
But on Mother’s Day, if I could negotiate a deal with God to do it all again, I would. And probably better.
For now, my dearest daughters, just know that no matter how far they have to reach, my arms will always be there to encircle you — if you need them.
No matter how far you wander, how much separateness and independence you claim, you will always be the sweetest complications of my life.
And never is that more clear than on Mother’s Day. ••