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Mothering and Daughtering
By Kory Sessions-Riseley

(Page 3 of 3)

I used to feel like I came late to the party of “knowing what I wanted to be.” It was a painfully endless worry of mine for years. Many hours of therapy in Los Angeles didn’t seem to help. Oddly, at this time in my life, the pain of not knowing what I want to be is absent. I just am. I stand in awe on a daily basis observing our life together. How poignant it is for me to witness the beginning of my son’s life and the end of my mother’s life at the same time. To help Madoc off with his shoes. To give him a bath. To help him climb into bed. To help my mother off with her shoes. To give her a bath. To help her climb into bed. 

On some days the intimacy is too much for each of us and we ignore the fact that she needs help doing things. Instead, she does them alone, slowly, painfully. We agree, silently, that it is best. And on other days I am very involved with her care. It’s a delicate dance of the mother and the daughter. I wonder sometimes how long we will do this dance together, when she might be better served by someone else, or when I might wear out.

Right now, my son and his grandma are playing cars outside on the porch. At the end of a wooden car ramp my mother has placed an old washboard. “One for the money,” my son’s small voice sings, “two for the show; three to get ready; four to go!” This is something she must have taught him. The cars careen down the ramp and rattle across the washboard before landing on the porch step at their feet. I watch them from the kitchen window as they both laugh, my son putting the cars at the top of the ramp over and over and over again. Her patience with him is unending. They could not do this over the phone.

He feeds her spirit, and she feeds his. Witnessing that feeds mine. It’s not the picture any of us imagined. Living this close together is hard on all of us sometimes. When she wanted to raise me “right,” I think she had a much shinier picture in mind. I certainly did. But here we are together, mothering and daughtering under the same roof once again, knowing that for this delicate dance, however long it turns out to be, we have all grown incredibly grateful.


Kory Sessions-Riseley lives in a small town in rural Utah with her husband, Chris, her three-year-old son, Madoc, and her mother, Jean. She paints, plays guitar, and continues to search for the balance between caring for those around her and taking good care of herself.

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