What Today Brings
“All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my mother.” – Abraham Lincoln
Renowned family therapist and member of Oprah posse, Iyanla Vanzant said, “One of the most important relationships we have is the one we have with our mothers.” I can honestly say I have been profoundly lucky in that department. This is not the case with everyone. Destiny dictates how much weight we put on the relationship we have with our mothers. My grandfather had to choose an alternate view when his mother walked out on him when he was a child. Two of my best friends have mothers who are a source of great pain and rejection for them. I have had a front seat to the confusion experienced by several rattled to their core because of an unhealthy relationship with an absent and unsupportive mother or father. Who knows why some get this lucky charm, this leg up of being loved through whatever life throws us when others have no such privilege. Each individual’s emotional survival must dictate the figure that helps them move on in difficult times. That figure is certainly not always a mother.
In my case, it most certainly is. The biggest blessing I have ever been given is a mother who freely and unconditionally showers me with love, encouragement and the saving grace that I have a safe place in this world as long as she is in it. We have not always seen eye to eye, in fact we usually do not. We are very different. Sometimes fortunately, but often unfortunately, I take after my boisterous father with whom I share a fondness for all things decadent, fast, loud and rebellious. “Daddy you always say you want me to be like Mamma but I’m just like you.” I used to say in my teens. “You and Chan want me to be just like Mamma.”
“That’s cause we love Mamma!” he would reply, cigar and Scotch in hand.
Me too, and it is through her eyes I see each right decision, and every easier, softer way. My mother is the woman people gravitate toward for advice, insight and an empathetic ear. She is by trade a psychotherapist, but that gift and burden was thrust upon her long before she got the degree. The oldest of four, she was a caretaker by the time she was five years old and had a large hand in turning her siblings into compassionate, respectful, loving adults.
It was not always a confidence booster to be so different from a mother countless people viewed as the most beautiful, gracious woman they had ever met. I came along and quite literally stumbled through life by the seat of my pants, providing my mother with a full-time job of frustration throughout my teens and twenties. Sometime in my early forties, a lightbulb finally illuminated and I began to take after her.
I can now safely say there is a lot of her in me, not enough to suit my high expectations, but enough to realize that the lessons have been taught and the example was set, recognized and infiltrated.
Lynne Bryant Chandler Brown is my strongest influence, my best friend and quite literally the most important thing in my life. The men in our lives were very difficult and now we view ourselves as two survivors of a hard-fought war. We have emerged a little bruised but victorious. When my mind wanders to that inevitable realization that I will not always have her to go to with every delight or heartache, every question or answer, I think of Edie Brickell singing, “Tell me where will I go when I cannot go to you, where I don’t know, when you go I’m goin’ too!”