ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Family and Parenting»
  • Parenting Skills, Styles & Advice»
  • Motherhood

Mother Daughter Reflections in a Mirror

Updated on August 4, 2017

Be careful what you put near a mirror

I am not my Mother, am I?

Mother Daughter Reflections in a Mirror

When I was a little girl I idolized my mother. When I got older, I feared being like her. My newly wed, younger, half brother had called me about mom’s recent hospitalization for pancreatitis with possible gallstones. He told me my stepfather was not coping well; he had to work and could we pick dad up and take him to see mom. I thought about how in the past my mother promised me to come help me after each of my carpal tunnel surgeries, but failed to show up because quote, “I don’t do freeways”. Then guilt settled in and my husband of more than a decade, and my stepson of thirteen years and I piled into the Lincoln and headed to Orange County.

In route I was ruminating on my complicated past and present relationship with my mother. She had always had difficulty receiving acts of kindness from her own children. Her childhood and marital issues resulted in her being emotionally distant and bitter. My maternal grandmother was cold and did not do open displays of affection. My biological father had been diagnosed with Lupus and died young; the marriage had been arranged by my maternal grandfather. During the ten years my father was ill, he physically and emotionally abused mom, and my older brother, in front of us. One Easter in a 1950’s style, black-and-white family photo my mother has a black eye, dressed in her Jackie Kennedy, white hat and gloves smiling. So I suppose I had cut her some slack when it came to raising my older brother and me after dad passed. She rolled up her sleeves, became a nurse’s assistant and at eleven and twelve our childhoods were over.

Mother’s tone of voice could cut you like a steel knive, add her sharp words and you came away bleeding internally. In our four hour visit mom, metaphorically speaking, cut me three times. Of course, it happened when we were alone. In front of others she always acted the part of the loving mother. Unfortunately, I carried these traits and was advised often by my husband and son. After my visit with mother, I realized they were right and on the way home the tears would stream quietly down my cheeks for what I had subconsciously inflicted on my stepson.

I was helping mother take a shower while my stepfather, my husband and stepson strolled the hospital hallways. The first cut was the deepest. While trying to help mom take off her slippers, she chastisingly said, “I can do it myself.” Swallowing the lump of hurt in my throat, I carefully set her clean gown, panties, and institutionally stiff, white towel on the half shelf above the lidless toilet. I spied a plastic container shaped like half a hat with metric measurements. It rested empty on the shower floor. I doubted mom was complying with her nurse’s orders to measure her urine output. Later she defiantly told me she was not. Fiesty as ever, not letting her illness get her down, she bragged how these people called tenderness pain; she did not need any pain pills and when were they letting her out of here.

To aid my mother in the shower, the day-duty nurse politely disconnected her I.V. and shunted it off and gloved her hand. I noted my mother did not utter a simple “Thank You”. As she showered, the nurse changed her bedding. I looked at my own reflection in the mirror and noticed the lines in my face were settled into the saddest frown. I remembered how kind mother had been to the neighborhood children; much kinder than she was to us. My stepson had recently accused me of the same thing. My older brother asked me at the last family gathering, when had I become so bitter. I shuddered with the epiphany; I had become my mother.

After her shower mom did ask for help tying the undignified, backless gown. Over that I placed her own colorful, chenile robe. Once again, I tried to help with her slippers, again, she chastised me, “I can do it better”. Cut number two, not so deep; I swallowed more hurt.

“Get me my brush,” she ordered. I obeyed. Mom brushed her thinning hair and preened in the mirror as I watched from behind, like I used to do as an innocent girl as she would apply her makeup with her fingertips in an queenly, upward, stroking manner. Everything had a certain order and symmetry.

Politely I asked, “Would you like some lotion for your face?”

And in the voice of the Queen Mother herself she replied, “Yes, that would be nice.” I began to squeeze the Keri lotion into the palm of her hand. Then, in a much shriller voice she exclaimed, “The tips, the tips, put it on my fingertips!” Cut number three; my childhood memory strings were pulled painfully tight. I winced inside remembering all the childhood pain she had inflicted on me.

I thought to myself, my mother has always been this way and even though I was 50 at time, I felt like I was five years old again. Mother could have put June Cleaver to shame; cooked and cleaned in a dress; dinner on the table at 5:00 p.m.; kids clean and smiling for dad when he got home from work. But just like a 50's television show; it was all an illusion; all a terrible act for the cameras. I realized in that moment; I was repeating her pattern. Later we said our perfunctory good-byes and headed home.

Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Anaheim Hills to Castaic is a seventy-five mile, eighty minute drive. I rode shotgun in silence as the radio blasted an Elliot Smith tune. My sixteen-year-old stepson, whistled along from the back seat. My husband, stared straight ahead intent on his driving. In my head I was a million miles away.

All my life I thought I had sucessfully stomped down the dirt in the graveyard of my childhood hurts, only to have a fistful of hurts pop back up and hand me a much needed life lesson today. I recalled the countless times I had chastised my stepson in that same tone of voice, making him feel less than the great child he is. He deserved so much more. My stepson endured twelve years of my emotional abuse. I needed to stop the cycle. I needed to stop the hurt.

That night, after I told my husband about my epiphany, I went to my stepson’s room, tapped on his door and asked if I could talk to him. I was greatful, he said, “Yes.” I explained my awakening to my bad behavior. I pleaded for his forgiveness. I told him he was the greatest kid on the planet and I was proud of him and loved him. We hugged; we cried. He opened up to me about his feelings like he had not in a long time. And, for once, I just listened with a Mother’s heart and not my judgmental head.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Githa 3 years ago

      A simple and inigtlleent point, well made. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Krystallynn 3 years ago

      If only there were more clveer people like you!

    • profile image

      Kaeden 3 years ago

      I'm not easily impsersed but you've done it with that posting.

    • Purplepassion1 profile image

      Joanne Lombardo 7 years ago from Prescott AZ

      Milch, thank you for commenting and it is tragic. But out of tradegy comes comedy, no?

    • profile image

      milch 7 years ago

      Thank you for a very poignant and honest piece. It's extremely tragic to see how much your cruel mother has hurt you. It's amazing how women are taught by their mothers to idolize and worship their mothers and put them on pedestals that they simply do not deserve.

    • Ladybird33 profile image

      Ladybird33 7 years ago from Fabulous USA

      Beautiful and I can't imagine how are it is. Thank you for sharing to us all, wonderful writing!

    • Purplepassion1 profile image

      Joanne Lombardo 7 years ago from Prescott AZ

      Thank you for your kind words, Tom.

    • PaulaHenry1 profile image

      PaulaHenry1 7 years ago from America

      I felt as if this was a day with my mother.I am almost 40 and feel as if I walk the Earth still trying to please my mother, just to hear those three little words that never come. I understand your pain.I am going to follow you and feel free to read some of my hubs regarding parenting and hospice that explains my mom to you...I believe we have a lot in common. Great writing!

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

      It is so hard to shake the hurt from our souls and make ourselves better people...but we do...and again.

      Wonderful writing. Welcome to HubPages! :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)