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I mean, really, you spring from the body of another person to get here, so it seems impossible that that person, your mother, would not be profoundly important. Much goes on in utero before we are born that binds us together.

So my mother died seven years ago this month. The phone rang and Dad told me Mom was dead. It had been a long road with Mom, her being so profoundly important and all. But it had been long because it never turned into what I dreamed it might be: a happy relationship. It just never did because Mom’s early life had been so hard she had no emotional space left by the time she had five kids to be available to anyone for anything besides the basics, like food and clothing and shelter. And she was quite good at those. But a meaningful relationship to treasure was not in the cards. I am sorry to still be bringing this up seven years later, or should I say, 55 years later, but it is that important.

I want mothers out there to know that the relationship you build with your children can be so much less than you think it is if you aren’t paying attention. And it can be so much more than you dream if you play fair and get honest about how you feel at any given moment.

That’s what I’ve learned about being a mom, that telling the truth about how I feel usually leads to a better day.