The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Monday, May 21, 2007


The Distances Between Us

My mother was not too chatty on the phone when I called her for Mother’s Day.

“Thank you for remembering. I’m going to church now, but I wouldn’t have picked up the phone if I didn’t know it was you.”

I’m her grown daughter and only child, and now that she’s moved far enough away that she can’t bring us a trunkful of food every time my folks visit, her answering the phone is a nod of specialness that I cling to.

Especially since I’m going to be a first-time mom. She’s gone to town with the shopping. Five cream-colored outfits, plus another five in blue that say “baby prince” await the little hamster that’s germinating in my belly. She’s gotten me a travel satchel, a diaper bag, and maternity clothes from their last trip to Taiwan. But Mom seems as far away as the island nation we’re from, and even as I feel the poignancy of that separation, I realize that motherhood is close at hand for me.

As close as the space between my palms.

Last night, over supper with my mother-in-law, we talked about arrangements for my mom to stay with us for the first few months after our child’s born. Sally is cautionary; her silvery eyelids flash ever so slightly as she says, “Bob and I treasured our private time when we had our babies.” It was the ‘60s, and she was a Supermom before the Enjoli woman could flaunt her skills with frying pans and pleasing her man, and by implication, raising their kids.

I feel somewhat unsure about my natural talents at handling a crying newborn and a malfunctioning breast pump, along with my eager husband who’ll be every bit as much of a novice as myself. So I look forward to my mother bridging that 700-mile gap between Las Vegas and San Francisco. I may cringe when she starts bossing us around as she did with her six younger siblings.

“Boil this. Chop that. Tuck her in. Not too tight. Watch your tongue. Mama knows best.” Or, at least, better than I do.

In my twenties, I loosened the ties that bound me to parental and Confucian ideals. Making my own way when she said, “If you’re not going to be a doctor, then you can be a lawyer or engineer.” Defending my choices when she accused me of losing my mind, studying to be a shrink. Fighting for outward independence, but knowing that I was never completely free within. The maternity clothes won’t be the first thing of my mother’s that I’ll wear. For a long time it’s been a cloak of guilt, rational and not so rational fears in a world that won’t always give you what you want.

I wonder what kind of mother I’ll be, because there are dangers in the world, and every mother will lift the proverbial car with her bristling biceps to save her child. I’ve already seen that fierce instinct unleashed, in the prenatal clinic of all places, where a shimmering black and white image of my unborn child arouses my desire to protect him or her at all costs. And, yet, already the child pushes away a little, squirming, turning away from the prying wand of the ultrasound.

I can respect that. Even though the physical distance from my own parents evokes regret, touches of nostalgia – I must accept that this child growing inside is becoming his or her own person, growing her own eyes and hands and feet and intellect, claiming the sphere of my womb as her own.

By Li Miao Lovett

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Interesting post. I've been dealing with a long-distance relationship with my mother. It's hard as a first time mom ... I hope you handle it all better than I.
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