When I typically introduce myself to others, I normally identify myself as a sister, an auntie, a friend, a singer, and a writer. I rarely if ever say that I am a daughter. Now that both of my parents are gone, it’s uncomfortable to stand as their daughter without a lot of uncomfortable conversation about death. This is most acute in relation to my mother. But I had a surprising breakthrough into becoming closer with her this last year than I ever have before.
Last fall, I was having an extended string of weeks where I was just off my game. I was pouty, pissy, and just downright pitiful. Fortunately at the time, I was in the middle of being a coach for a leadership development program and was accountable to a senior coach and three participants in the program. When I crossed week three into my pity party, my senior coach asked me, “What’s REALLY going on here?” I simply said, “I miss my mom, and I wish she was here.” We talked for a bit more and he encouraged me to find a way to honor her and to get myself back into power. I went to bed that night and woke up with the idea of asking my older siblings’ friends to share with me their thoughts and memories of my mom. What I got back from them was GOLD. They shared the BEST stories EVER. I knew about my mom’s heart, her amazing singing abilities, and her hospitality but I had no clue that my mom was FUNNY! Here are a few of my favorites:
“The one thing that I admired and loved about your Mom is that she loved her kids and her family. Your mom made sure everyone was taken care of and that everyone sat down and ate together. Your family was a family and your mom kept it together. I could have a conversation with her and she would listen to me and understand me and tell me the truth. Your mom wasn’t down for a lot of foolishness. She was like a Mom to a lot of guys. She made sure that her kids’ friends were welcomed and those that needed a meal, she fed them.” – Family Friend, Karen W.
“Everyone who talked about your mother never had one negative thing to say about her. They always talked about how she loved to really laugh and how she lived for her children. The cry of her heart was ‘God’s tomorrow will be better than today.’ That was a cry for her children, and it came to pass. -Family Friend, Elliott W.
“I remember once some of us were sitting in the kitchen talking and Brenda was up in her room praying. Your mom abruptly got up out of her chair, all the while muttering to herself “This don’t make no sense,” and walked to the bottom of the stairs and called up the steps to say, “Brenda, God is not deaf, you do not need to be screaming your prayers at him like that. He hears you. My gracious!” Those of us in the kitchen roared with laughter.”– Family Friend, Lisa W.
As these precious gems hit my inbox, I cried, I howled with laughter, and was truly amazed by how much I am just like her! These stories kept my spirit buoyed for a few months. But as typical, we have our moments, and I fell into another little funk right before Mother’s Day this year. I was bawling my eyes out on the way home after a very full day and I’m glad that I had enough presence of mind to call one of my most trusted mentors and friends to talk me off the ledge. He patiently guided my spirit back into the harbor of peace and he simply said, “Instead of being stuck in this young conversation about being stuck or lost or without hope because your mom isn’t here, how about opening your heart up to LOVE and honor her and yourself by becoming her DAUGHTER.”
I was quiet for a good 15 seconds.
I never thought about it like that. What would it be like to allow myself to be Ida Mae Lakins’ DAUGHTER? How would the world be for me if I allowed everybody to love me like she would? How many women could I finally let into my heart and mother me the way she would have?
I have to tell you that since taking on being a DAUGHTER, my life has been nothing short of MAGIC. Not that I don’t still have my moments and my breakdowns, but I don’t let myself stay there long. I am quick to whip out my phone and yell for help these days. And surprise, surprise. Not only are my friends and family there to help me, many of them are OVERJOYED to do so.
On today which would have been my mother’s 76th birthday, I celebrate her life by being the best sister, auntie, and writer that I can be, and today I accept every single morsel of love that I can stand by joyfully being Ida’s Daughter.