Episode 245: Mushroom Musings About Moms


What is it about the mother-daughter relationship? Why is it so fraught with drama, so complicated? Is it a battle we must fight for the sake of evolution? Do we ever really change that much from generation to generation? I woke up after a mushroom risotto with many thoughts swirling in my head. Who better to bounce them off of but you, my tribe? If you have answers or thoughts, please email me!

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Good Morning, my friends. Good morning. I woke up with so many thoughts swirling in my head. I don’t think it was the porcini mushroom risotto, like the night before. Do you know –  and I don’t know if you know, I don’t know if you agree – that mushrooms of all kinds are hallucinogens on some level? So when you eat mushrooms before you go to bed, you have crazy dreams. I had crazy dreams the night before after my porcini mushroom risotto, but I woke up this morning thinking of my freshman year roommates and all their names and trying to recall them. I don’t know why that was so important to me this morning. 

But now I have mused about a number of other things, and I just thought I’d share them with you right now as the inspiration strikes. The windows are all open in my little Chianti residence, so you’re gonna hear the budgies and the dogs outside, and perhaps the bees that continue to plague me. Because there’s  only a screen on one window out of three in this room, so what’s the point? Because the bees come into the windows that have no screens, and then they end up trapped in the window that does have a screen, which is right next to my face. I’ve liberated so many bees this morning. I trap them in a cup and send them back outside, and then probably the same ones keep coming back. Oh, boy. 

But it’s a beautiful morning in Chianti. It’s a perfect temperature. And I have just been thinking about what my next moves are because I’m going to Croatia next. I have the Croatia guidebook here on my table, and I have to do some research as to why am I going to Croatia. Why? Why am I attracted to it? Somebody said you should go. And is it just that I need to have some time off of my Schengen visa time? If you don’t know what that is, I think I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s a visa that only allows you to be in EU countries for 90 out of every 180 days, so I’ve been eking that out. They don’t have to be contiguous, and I’ve been eking that out during my trip here by taking time away from the EU, and then coming back. Croatia is one of those times away. 

I’ve been going to all of these really cool places, and when I tell my mom about them, she’s like “oh, yeah, I remember when I was there.”

Okay. And of course the minute I started this, the dogs went off on a crazy rampage. Anyway, I was thinking about Croatia and wondering if my mom had actually been there, because it seems like every place I go, she says to me, oh, yeah, I remember when I went there, there… this, that and the other. And so it feels like, Oh, my God, there is no place that I could go and have my own adventure in this world that my mother has not been to first. I mean, I’m sure there are places but it seems like I am retracing many of her steps. Even Scotland and all of those wonderful adventures that I had created nostalgia in her. I just want my own experiences! 

So I was thinking about that. And well, first of all, I was thinking, it’s a good thing that I never wanted to be a visual artist because I can’t imagine trying to have that career and always being held in comparison to my mother. Always. My daughter is taking on that incredible legacy – bless her sweet soul. So I was thinking, what is it about mothers and daughters? When I remembered Savannah, I somehow went right straight back in my brain to the day that she lost her virginity. Because I believe that that is the moment where our paths started to diverge. She and I shared this incredible look, as I dropped her off at her boyfriend’s house, and I think that we both knew that this was a threshold for independence and separation. 

So then I got to thinking, is that the quest of daughters to fight against living their mother’s lives at all cost? Things like: she’s a lesbian / I will be a heterosexual. She’s a homemaker / I will be a career woman. She makes disastrous choices in love / I will steel myself, choose cooly with eyes wide open. She got divorced / I will never marry. She couldn’t follow her dreams and become a Broadway star because she had children to raise / I am never having babies. She flung away her supportive circle in fierce defiance / I will gather community around me everywhere I go. 

And then I wonder if the image of what we are rebelling against as daughters stays fixed at a certain place, a certain memory that we have of our mother – a static portrait of her from the point at which they least resemble us to begin with – in order to make the lines of opposition more clear. This is probably teenagehood. Later on, perhaps we can look at each other with new eyes, and we can allow ourselves to see similarities. Or is in our fate to replicate her with only the barest differences? So the only reason we’re seeing similarities is because we cannot escape them no matter what? When people tell me I look so much like my mom, I seethe with resentment because I don’t think so. I look in the mirror, and I see a completely different, autonomous person. But then yesterday, my young roommate saw a picture of my daughter, and she said, “Wow, she looks so much like you.” And I was completely taken aback, because I don’t think so. I never think so. I think both of my kids are spitting images of my ex-husband. But maybe the opinion of my eyes is certainly not unbiased. 

If there’s anything I have learned, through all of my ups and downs in this world, it is that my kids are the most important thing to me, far and above anything, and anyone by miles and miles. Nothing that I have done gives me anything close to the sense of peaceful gratitude and blessing as being their mom, as having brought them into this world. And I get very emotional when I write this because I feel the truth of it with absolute certainty. But perhaps the heartache of it is that women in general have never been encouraged to think that simply bringing forth life is enough of an accomplishment. We are always striving for other achievements, like we have to prove to the world of man that we are valuable in other ways. But what other ways are more important than that? I guess that my difficulty here now, in my waning years, is that this choice of paramount accomplishment doesn’t translate into financial security. I literally have nothing to show for all of the energies that I spent chasing purpose. So what’s left?

Write the damn book. Right? And I have been. I have been. And I’m trying to think, what is it primarily about? And it is this relationship from grandmother to mother to daughter – how we made the choices we make, and how they affect the next generation and the next. It is a book also about divorce, and what that does to families, depending on how it is carried through. In late 2001 it was interesting, because my cousin Laura and I were both getting divorced, or were both going through that same stag -, she with a younger child, and me with my kids at about nine and six. It was so interesting to be sharing another stage of life with Laura, even though she and I had lived a far distance from each other for a long, long time. 

So we also started sharing the world of Match.com. She started using that as a vehicle for finding new men, because her divorce situation had left her stranded in a city where she really didn’t know too many people at all, and she had to stay there by the terms of her divorce. So we exchanged ideas, on the phone and and via emails (which was starting to be a new form of communication). Yes, I know that sounds like what was this the stone age but yeah, emails. I remember telling her that I didn’t really want a man at this point who was looking for his “forever mate.” You know, I didn’t want the guy who says, “You complete me,” like Jerry Maguire. And so many of them on Match.com seemed to be saying that.” I’m looking for my forever sweetheart.” And I was wondering, is this a thing that men who’ve already been married cannot imagine their life not married? And that’s what they want? And they have to replace that person no matter what? Because I was finding that I wanted exactly the opposite thing. I didn’t want to be tied down. I didn’t want to be hemmed in to one person right now, because I didn’t have a clear picture of who that one person should be. And it certainly wasn’t coming to me from this menu of humans that was Match.com! So what was the quest? What was I looking for? What were they looking for? Were they even clear about that? Or were they just saying I want my forever mate because they thought that’s what the women who were looking at their pictures wanted to hear? It’s so complicated. This dance of sexual partners and humans in love. It’s so complicated. Oh well, I’ll keep exploring it. Maybe I’ll wake up with new insights tomorrow. Gotta have more mushrooms. 

All right. I’ll see you then. Thanks for being here.

Published by dianathebard

Podcasting about growing up in the Hudson Valley in the 60s and 70s, falling in love, raising kids, getting divorced and being a free and creative world traveler!

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