By Marlene Goldman
“Mama, I’m moving back!” was my reply when my mom finally picked up the phone after I formally accepted a job offer. It was a conversation I played out in my head for years, and it still felt so surreal when it finally happened. I left my home state right after high school to continue my education. As the baby of the family, I watched my siblings turn away from the familiarity of home and take off for new adventures on college campuses out of state. They set the path aligned with my courageous, wild spirit, and I was desperate for a fresh start. At the time, I had no intentions of ever returning, but life has a funny way of reminding us to “never say never.”
Through the years, my identity as an out-of-state college student started to fade away. I created a new home away from home in my college town, started my career there, made lifelong friends there, and met my now-husband. I was coming into my own within adulthood and felt less of a connection to my home state. But that’s where Mama was at the end of the day, and I would always be home, back in my hometown. Like most young adults navigating life on their own, I came to a crossroads; focus on my career or focus on family? I figured I was setting up my future for my family, so I chose my career and moved even further away from my home state.
At this point, visiting family once a year became the norm, and while my career continued to grow, I missed my family more & more. I missed out on important milestones and celebrations but, I considered it a small sacrifice for my future. Eventually, the happiness in my career was not enough for everything I was missing at home. In addition to an impactful familial death, I set my sights on heading back home with my partner in tow. And then, the pandemic hit.
I trust in the universe’s timing and looking back; I’m thankful the pandemic derailed my plans. When I left my home state, I was reserved and still finding my voice. My wild courageous spirit was really only known to me because I didn’t know how to share it with my loved ones. I was a different person, not living in the same state as my family for over ten years! Quickly after moving home, I realized a lot of the boundary setting and communication skills I refined during the pandemic would come in handy as I redefined the relationship I had with my Mama.
Don’t get me wrong, my Mama is my ride or die, and she will always be my Mama. But we are also both adults with variations of responsibilities and families. I had no idea what our relationship would look like now that I’m a short drive away from my childhood home compared to 1000+ miles. I used to be so jealous of mother/daughter relationships where they hung out often and had all these experiences together. Even growing up, my Mama lived two houses down from her mom, and often, I didn’t see Black daughters be too far away from their mothers. I thought these relationships were so close due to proximity, but I soon realized that it was a bond that distance played no part in.
What surprised me the most was how fun it has been back with my Mama. While we don’t hang out every day (coming back to those boundaries), it’s so exciting every time we see each other. She has also had to make some adjustments and get used to interacting with her adult daughter. It’s only been a couple of months, and it’s been such a cool experience so far. Everyone deserves the space to grow and determine their values. I’m blessed to continue growing the relationship with my Mama, not just over the phone, while still living a life I have created for myself.
Marlene Goldman-Marlene Goldman is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC who loves a good outfit with a cupcake to match. If you’re looking for a better start to your Mondays, follow her on Instagram @mondayswithmarlene.