Since this upcoming Sunday is Mother’s day, I wanted to write today’s Friday Musing with the holiday in mind, which prompted me to remember a post that I wrote back in January of 2017 about The Joy Luck Club. In it, I talked about the fact that I had recently streamed the movie for the upteenth time, and how rewatching it led me to take Amy Tan’s novel off my bookshelf, as it always does, to once again read the story that’s told at the very beginning. It’s about a woman who buys a swan from a market vendor who tells her that the bird was once a duck that wanted to be a goose, but its neck stretched so much that it became a swan instead. The woman brings the swan to America with her, hoping to one day give it to her daughter so that she will know that her life holds limitless possibilities in this new country. She could be anything that she dreamed of becoming. The swan is taken away from her by immigration officials, leaving just one feather behind. The woman waits to give her daughter the feather because she wants her English to be perfect. Only then will she be able to say, “This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.”
If you’ve read or watched The Joy Luck Club then you know that it examines the unbreakable bond that exists between a mother and her daughter, even though there are times when that relationship suffers because of an inability to understand one another’s motivations. When this happens, it can be incredibly painful. Even though The Joy Luck Club focuses on daughters, there are similar difficulties that can arise between mothers and sons. In either case, the majority of the problems we face seem to come from being unable to step outside of our relationship long enough to see one another as individuals. The bond between a mother and her child begins with such closeness and intensity that the lines can easily blur, and we often find ourselves imposing ideas and expectations onto one another, instead of understanding that we both have emotions and experiences that lie beyond the roles in which we’ve been cast. As mothers, we want nothing more than what is good for our children, and so every action towards them is motivated by our best intentions, even though there are times when it may not seem that way to them. Sadly, there are also moments when we are capable of causing deep disappointment because our actions are motivated by something that lies outside the realm of our relationship and, for that reason, they may be very difficult for our children to accept. In that case, we can only hope that one day they will find a way to forgive and understand us.
The poignancy of the story of the woman and the swan never fails to move me because she is waiting until she is perfect before telling her daughter a truth that has great meaning for her. In doing so, she denies her daughter the opportunity to see her not just as her mother, but as a separate individual, complete with flaws and shortcomings. There are so many things that I never had the opportunity to learn about my own mother, especially the person that she was in the quietest places of her heart. I cannot tell you with certainty the thing that was her deepest wish, her greatest fear, or her hardest struggle. I once thought that she didn’t know those things about me either, but in the quietest places of my heart, I now know differently. In dreams, she holds my hand over coffee and says, “Wait for your father, we’ll tell him together.” How I wish that dream was real. I would ask her all the things I never knew, so that I could listen to her answers even if they surprised me, and so I could let her know, above all else, that I now understand that all of her intentions towards me were always her very best.
The drink that I made for today is called All My Best Intentions, of course, and it’s a bit of a variation of the Aviation Cocktail. I used gin as my base spirit, to which I added a lemon balm tea simple syrup, along with Crème de Violette for its delicate floral notes and its beautiful color, and fresh lemon juice. DRAM’s Lavender Lemon balm bitters worked as a perfect bridge here to tie all the flavors together. As a bonus, both lavender and lemon balm are considered to be feminine herbs, encouraging us to look inward for intuitive understanding, awareness, and peace. I loved the fact that I could use them in this particular cocktail. Because the lemon balm is a tea simple, it’s rather dark in color, and that caused the drink to lose its typical violet hue. As an Aviation riff, it was less than perfect, but for this particular post, it was exactly what was needed. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday! Thank you so much for reading.
All My Best Intentions
2 oz of your favorite gin
.75 oz Crème de Violette
.75 oz Lemon Balm tea simple*
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
3 dashes DRAM Lavender Lemon Balm bitters
Long shake. Double strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lemon strip.
*Brew a batch of lemon balm tea and dissolve in an equal amount of sugar.