I’ve written about my relationship with my mother previously.
She was a strong woman, an iron lady of sorts.
Ahead of her time. An executive when women were not. The primary breadwinner in our family. A demanding taskmaster. A force with which to be reckoned.
A stickler for table manners, decorum, intelligence.
And a woman I rarely saw make a wish.
Except as you see her, in this photograph.
Truth be told, I was not present at this birthday. I was in Chicago.
That makes my heart ache now.
Because, just look at her face.
The woman I have written about as emotionally closed, less than demonstrative, is glowing. And so obviously making a wish. Her happiness, in this moment, is palpable. It jumps out of that photograph and into my heart.
At some point in her eighth decade, my mother learned to feel again. Or so it seemed to me.
My sisters were raised by a different mother. Same woman, but less seasoned. I was raised by my mother in her 40s and beyond. Life had done a bit of a number on her by then.
Wishes were for those too passive to create their own future. Or so I was taught. “We do not wish for things, Kris, but rather we make them happen.”
Good advice, yes, but it leaves scant room for magic. And magic is what makes a face light up like my mother’s in this photograph.
After her career was done and she edged closer to her own mortality, I saw a softening.
The Nana who drank my son’s milk for him when he refused and I made him sit at the table. Her milk moustache gave her away.
My mother never would have done that. I sat at that same table for hours as a child, until I finally relented, drinking lukewarm milk that should have been downed with dinner.
Mom had learned love trumps rules, on occasion.
The woman who wrote one too many checks for a grandchild who was in trouble for things she would have disowned (literally) her own daughters for doing.
My mother had learned humanity trumps judgement.
The look on Mom’s face? That look is because she is surrounded by an army of a family, one she helped to create. Numerous, loud, imperfect. After years of striving, she had found the Holy Grail. And it wasn’t her office, accolades or accomplishments.
It was us. Imperfect us.
When you have that, what do you wish for?
I have a feeling her wish was not for herself, hence the joy in that face. Her wish was for that imperfect us. And it was no longer that we achieve perfection. It was that we make our own way—messily as we go—and have a few wishes granted as we do.
In this photo, at least, my mother had found the magic. She had made a wish.
That is a right each of us should exercise more often.
I hope you send your desires out to the universe today with a feeling as luminous as my mother’s was on this birthday.
Make a wish.
I can’t wait to hear what happens.