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Dear Daughter: About sounding like your mother

Dear Daughter,

I had a look back to my last quilt block and letter to you. It was May. I’ve been so consumed with dressmaking and the summer, that patchwork and quilting have been put to the side. In fact, I’m not entirely sure where the quilt blocks are in my sewing room. These photos are from April, when I finished the block.

This block is called Noon and Light. In retrospect, I think the dark green was not the best choice.  Too dark and defining. The name suggests a lighter combination. Not that the name matters. Once the block is among the others, it will look right.

I’ll find the rest of the blocks. It is so near to finishing. Now the cooler weather is back, it feels right to pick up our Dear Daughter quilt again. One block and one letter at a time. Here I go.

The letter – about sounding like your mother

I heard myself today. I blame you. Partly. You made me use my Mother’s voice. I could hear it. I could hear my mother. I also knew how you felt, because I’ve been in your shoes. On the receiving end of the voice.

Granted, there are many variations of the Mother’s voice. Today, it was the gentle voice that combines a hint of common sense, a reasonable request and slight helplessness, all wrapped up in a blanket of love. Managing to somehow by-pass exasperation. This time, at least.

In this form, it uses sentences containing the word “try” and an unsaid, silent plea.  In essence, it’s a request for you to do something that I cannot do for you. Even if I could, it is your journey, not mine.

I know how you feel. For your part, you know it’s reasonable, but at the same time misses the point. You are there. You know the ins and outs, and it’s far more complicated. My words over-simplify. Missing all the subtle layers of complexity that you can see. In your defence, you bring up countless barriers and reasons not to.  I know. I really do know.

I’ve been there.

Whether you act on my words or not, is yet to be seen. I know you listened, because that is the power of the voice.

The voice is yours now. It has been since the first time you heard me use it. It’s stored away for the right moment. In years to come you will find the words, and their delivery, uncontrollably pouring out of you. In the same split second, you will hear me. Just as I hear my mother, and probably she heard her own. At that one moment, we will all be there. Generations of parent and child. Givers and receivers of the voice. For one mind-blowing, vanishing second, we exist together and understand.

I wonder how far it goes back. The voice in its many forms. Whether from mother, grandmother or the caring person that enriches our lives. Generation after generation, recycling combinations of words and presenting them to the next generation, as if participants in a grand game of chinese whispers, played out over the decades and centuries. Each person amends it slightly to add a little of themselves to it. The subject varies, but one part never changes. It is always, always delivered with love.

How do I know? Simple really. The voice doesn’t work unless based on love. Any other emotion would transform it forever. It has to be love.

One last word about the voice. It cannot be handed on via the written word or the wise words delivered by a TV star or actor. That is different. Still may share wisdom and worth its weight in gold, but it is not the voice. That has to be passed on in person, by someone who loves you.

So the voice is yours now. I would say use it wisely, but in all fairness, you have no choice. You have no control of it. Rest assured that it will be wise. One day you too will find yourself using it, and you’ll remember me. As if dragged back to this moment. As you present your reasonable point.

It’s OK. We’ve got your back.

As ever

your loving mother

For more quilt blocks and Dear Daughter letters, click here

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