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How About Some Compassion

May 24, 2016 at 7:50 PM

Admittedly, this space is usually devoted to matters of faith.  To a degree this post is a matter of faith - and it is about mothers and daughters.  These reflections came after listening to a quilting teacher tell the class that her daughter isn’t a quilter.  A bit of a conversation ensued.  Participants in the class asked if the daughter appreciated the quilts the instructor made.  No, she really didn’t appreciate the quilts she has made for her daughter.  There was tsk-tsking about the daughter not being a quilter like her mother, and not valuing the time and work that goes into a quilt.  The instructor spoke negatively about her daughter for some five minutes, time that would have been more helpful if she had been teaching us about quilting.

I am the daughter of a quilter and I kept my mouth closed, because I wanted to defend the daughter.  My mother started quilting when I was in high school.  Although she never invited me to quilt with her, many of her friends started quilting, too.  When I was with her, they would ask if I quilted and I said that I didn’t.  Although I sewed, I wasn’t interested in hand stitching little pieces of fabric together.  In time, I joked that I was rebelling against my mother by not quilting.

The night of the tsk-tsking about the non-quilting daughter brought up layers of issues for me.  We mothers so hope that our daughters will become reflections of ourselves; we want them to walk in our footsteps.  On the other hand, daughters want to be separate from their mothers.  Most daughters do not want to become replicas of their mothers.  Daughters want to look in the mirror and see themselves, not their mom. They want to do what they want to do, not what their mother expects them to do.  I suspect that the quilter’s daughter has her own hobbies and interests.  How much more I would have enjoyed the conversation had the quilter gushed about her daughter’s hobbies, rather than speak ill of her for not quilting.

Another layer of this for me was all the quilted stuff I have.  As I listened to the quilting instructor talk, it reminded me of the many quilted Christmas ornaments my mother gave me over the years, the multiple Christmas quilted wall hangings, at least two quilted vests and several quilts – all made by my mom, all filling my house.  Yes, I appreciate them, because I do sew, and do crafts.  I get the amount of time put into a quilted item.  However, my Christmas tree doesn’t need a dozen quilted ornaments.  I would have loved to have received a painted ornament from my mother, or a glass ornament.  I am not sure that my mother thought in terms of “what would Becky like for Christmas?”  Some years it seemed to be more “I’ve quilted this ornament, so I’ll give it to Becky.”  Quite possibly the quilt instructor’s daughter’s home is filled with things her mother has quilted – she has enough quilted stuff.

Mostly, the quilting teacher’s complaining gave me pause to reflect on being a mother myself, to a lovely daughter whose interests are different than mine.  Hopefully, I am raising my daughter to be independent, strong, competent and with her own interests.  Hopefully, I can enjoy and celebrate her interests.  Yes, hopefully, we will have some shared interests (we both love movies!) and our relationship will be deeper if we have different interests.

Deeper than this, I hope that I can remember that my daughter is made not in my image at all. She is made in the image of God.  And, God did a damn fine job when She created my daughter. 


Just a postscript:  four years ago, a friend asked if I would take a quilting class with her.  I decided that at the age of 56, I was probably old enough to quit rebelling against my mother.  Besides, quilting is no longer handwork – it’s on the machine.  I’m now taking my second class and making a sampler quilter.  I wonder if my mother is smiling.

Tags: compassion, prayer, dementia, older adults