Strawberries and the Sky: a mother-daughter story

There’s a story my mom recounts to me whenever I happen upon a new ambition. When I was younger, my family went monthly to a local art therapy studio with the goal of helping my autistic brother to socialize. This particular day we were instructed to paint a picture using leaf prints. After drawing some branches and printing some fall leaves, I went to grab a pallete of blue paint. When I came back I started to draw.

 “What are you doing?!” My mom exclaimed. “Just trust me alright! I know what I’m doing,” I replied in the aggravated tone that only comes with a youthful arrogance. The instructor shot me a disapproving look from the corner where she stood. I painted on. When I was finished, there was a blue sky framing my Autumn scene. My Mom looked on in baffled awe. When we got home, she hung it on the basement wall.

While at college I send her pictures of sunrises because I know how much she likes them. “You always teach me to appreciate the beauty in life,” she says. I smile. I like that she sees me like that.

We’re very different people, but I think we’re the same in a lot of ways too.

Today we are picking strawberries under the heat of the sun. Our hands part a sea of leaves searching for the ripest fruit. It occurs to me that I should have brought my sun hat. Children’s voices provide a warm ambiance that I haven’t felt in a while. My mom confesses that she probably stifled my creativity too much as a child. I apologized for avoiding responsibilities when I was younger.

Our relationship has improved a lot since I’ve headed off to college. Her overbearing nature that made me feel stifled and spiteful in high school has softened. And my emotional turbulence has steadied into a mature acknowledgement of imperfection. Now that I’m older I recognize just how much my parents’ financial support of my passions has shaped my life. 

No mother-daughter relationship is perfect: she still can be judgemental, and I still wait too long to complete tasks she asks me to do, but as we sit in the straw picking strawberries in the morning heat, I can’t help but think I like what I’ve got.

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