There is a look that teenagers only give to their mamas – a combination of disgust accompanied by an eye roll and often a sigh. A look that conveys, How can you be so stupid? Maybe not all mamas know this look, but I do.
I recognize the look because it was a frequent occurrence at my house during the teenage years. I’ve seen it displayed between other mama-daughter pairs, so I don’t think I’m alone in receiving the look.
Today, I’m visiting my 85-year-old mama – the sweetest woman on the planet — and I’m remembering the looks I gave her when I was a teenager.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but our relationship was turbulent. Argumentative is a good description – it paints a picture of my part in the relationship. I questioned her every move, I doubted her every act, and gave passionate speeches in debate form to prove my points.
I didn’t think she knew much.
Now I know better. Now I look at my mama with a mixture of awe and wonder. How could she do it all? Work so hard, be so kind, get so much done? She can out work me, out serve me, out shop me, out do me in almost any endeavor.
My relationship with my own daughters during their teenage years was turbulent. I will admit, during this season I could not envision a healthy adult relationship with either of them. I was wrong. Things changed. They grew into adults who appreciate and value family – even their mama!
These same daughters who rolled their eyes at me and argued with anything I said and fought my every decision, now call me for advice. They even like to visit and spend time with us. Much to my surprise, our relationship changed. I didn’t expect their maturity to bring them so far into positive communication, mutual respect, and understanding.
Today, visiting my own mom, I am aware of the years gone by, and with it some of her memories. Her mind is fading. The edges are blurring. She no longer remembers what she ate for breakfast. Sometimes, for a brief moment, she forgets if I’m Sandra or her granddaughter, Kristin.
I forget that these things matter. I’m just with my mama, in her sweet presence — listening to her ask “How’s Tom doing? What’s he up to today?”
Always concerned with others. That doesn’t change. She cares. Always. She loves her family. I feel it. I know it. I no longer ask her for the recipe to Swedish Meatballs to serve for company, because she doesn’t cook much anymore. My dad does the cooking.
All that doesn’t matter.
Today, I just want to sit by my mama’s side, at the kitchen table I grew up at. Grasp her hand. Hug her thin frame. Listen to her questions – perhaps five times. And give thanks for her.
I could never have imagined this moment sitting here with my mama when I was 20. You need to grow into the good things in life. You need to experience some hard so you can recognize some good. Our vision changes as we age – more than just physically.
At 20 years old I saw with a critical spirit – now I see grace when I look at my mama – sweet acceptance and kindness proven over a lifetime.
I could never have imagined as a teenager how my vision of my mother would alter. Let me be clear: my mama never changed – I did.
Oh, for clearer vision, right vision. To see that which is good and true. To recognize the gifts right before our eyes.
Lord, open my eyes to see with Your eyes and love with Your heart.Leave a Comment
Deb Wood says
You hit the nail on the head with this post for me. I remember rolling my eyes at my mom, and my dad too. Now I have the privilege of living with them, helping my dad through recovery from heart surgery. Every now and then when they start to reminisce about days gone by, I quietly video on my phone. I want to remember every story. Some I’ve heard many times, but sometimes I will hear a fascinating story I’ve never heard before. I don’t want to miss a thing. As far as my own daughters, I find them in another stage. They are young adults with children of their own. They have passed the argumentative stage, but I can still literally hear the eye rolling over the phone. They ask for advice, and then there is a certain tone of voice in the “I know” reply that comes my way that tells me ” I know you’re right, but I still don’t want to face that right now. And that’s okay. My words will pop out of their mouths one day just like my mom and dads words pop out of mine!
Sandra J says
Deb, I so appreciate your thoughts and your seeing the your time with your folks as a privilege and ‘not wanting to miss a thing’ of the treasures that they share with you. What a beautiful perspective! May you be blessed in all your time with your family. By the way, I love your description of “my words will pop out of their mouths one day…” – I’m smiling at the picture that paints!
Lois Flowers says
Sandra, there are many paragraphs in this post that I could have written myself, word for word. It makes my heart hurt even to write that, and yet, there’s such comfort in knowing others have been there too … that others ARE there too, right now. Thank you so much for putting my thoughts into words. I wish you and your mama the sweetest of Mother’s Days this year.
Sandra J says
Lois, Thank you so much for your understanding – it brought tears to my eyes. This mother-daughter relationship goes deep into our hearts and touches places we didn’t know we had in us. It brings with it the sweetest of joys, but some sorrows, too. Blessings to you and your family this Mother’s Day – may it be filled with the joyful stuff!
THANKYOU for this . Just yesterday, I came across a photo of my mom in her 20s then, now 95 with Alzheimer’s and as I glanced at this beautiful lady, my mind went thru your statements as well as I wondered..’what were her dreams, and teen years like’ .
I also went thru turmoil with my daughter as a teen… But Praise God… We both grew up and have a beautiful relationship. I wouldn’t trade her for anything…. Our struggles can become our treasure chest
Sandra J says
I love how you summed up the bittersweet nature of our mother-daughter relationship: “Our struggles can become our treasure chest.” Praise God for His work in our hearts, our relationships, and our homes! God IS at work redeeming and restoring all our broken places. Today, I am praying that for each person who reads this post, because I know many of us have relationships that are still a work in progress (God’s work!). Blessings!
Thank you for giving me hope today! My heart is broken over my rebellious, angry daughter.
Sandra J says
I am praying with you today. I pray God will give you His comfort and peace even in the midst of this troubled time. God cares deeply for the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18).
Inger Logelin says
Lovely, Sandra. It brings to mind not-so-pleasant memories of my own long-past impatience and irritation at my mother’s ways I expressed as a teen and young adult. So glad for grace . . . for learning to give and receive it! And for the friendship and companionship I had as an adult with my mother, now gone, and that I have with my own adult daughters!
Sandra J says
Thanks, Inger for your words and example. Great reminder how grace is the key ingredient to add to our relationships – it changes the flavor and sweetens the mix. Blessings to you, today!
Beth Williams says
Your post is spot on. Most teenagers, me included, think we know it all & our parents are dumb. As we age and mature we realize that our parents actually knew a lot. They had lived hard lives and were saying/doing things for our own good. I’ve since lost both parents, but loved them and their caring ways. They did the best they could.
Sandra J says
Beth, I’m so glad for your comment! Losing your parents alters one’s perspective and changes everything. Your wisdom and caring shine forth in your words. Blessings!