Like Mother, Like Daughter

In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked four mother-daughter duos to share the secret to their close relationships

24
Photo by Seaglass Photography
Photo by Seaglass Photography

Divya Haryani & Azuri

Dr. Divya Haryani’s relationship with her daughter is still in its early stages. The toddler stage, to be exact. As a practicing dermatologist with a three-year-old daughter and a newborn son, she is daily making time to craft the bonds that will keep her and Azuri close for a lifetime. 

Bedtime offers some of those bonding moments. “We always put her down to sleep, so it’s never someone else doing it,” she says. “That’s a really special time.” Their bedtime ritual includes reading a story in Azuri’s rocking chair, singing her “sleep song,” and turning off the lights together. “We try to shower her with love.” 

Azuri loves helping her mother with her makeup. Little brother Devin looks on with curiosity. Photo by Seaglass Photography
Azuri loves helping her mother with her makeup. Little brother Devin looks on with curiosity. Photo by Seaglass Photography

Frequent—often weekly—trips to LaPorte Farms are another shared activity. Azuri loves animals, especially her friend Billy Goat; one of her favorite things to do is feed him carrots. Aside from being fun for both mother and daughter, these trips are an early introduction to helping others, as the Haryanis donate to the farm and participate in its fundraising efforts. 

Divya is already proud of her daughter’s confidence. “She has a voice. She’s not a timid girl.” When thinking about her daughter’s future, she adds, “I really want her to do what she wants to do.” 

One of the surprises of motherhood for Divya was how quickly her daughter’s funny and playful personality emerged
One of the surprises of motherhood for Divya was how quickly her daughter’s funny and playful personality emerged.

That said, at least for now, this little girl wants to do everything her mommy does. She puts on her “work clothes,” gets her “work bag,” and is delighted to receive skin care products for trick or treat. She asks for facials and will rest quietly for 30 minutes while her mother complies.

A sense of wonder regarding motherhood, an awareness that her choices now are shaping her daughter’s life, that she’s “influencing a human being,” are still close to the surface for Divya. She’s learning to prioritize one thing at a time and use her resources to help. And while she’s quick to dispel the myth that women can do it all and do it perfectly, she’s being intentional about her choices and carving out special time to create those lasting bonds. “It’s one step at a time,” she says. “It’s been really fun.”

Sophie Bentham-Wood & Olivia. Photo by Kelly Rogers
Sophie Bentham-Wood & Olivia. Photo by Kelly Rogers

Sophie Bentham-Wood & Olivia

“One foot in front of the other.” That’s what Sophie Bentham-Wood, director of marketing and communications at Vero Beach Museum of Art, tells her daughter when she tires. Olivia hadn’t yet been born the first time her mother took her on a run. She has also hit her stride while pushing her daughter in a buggy and even carrying her piggyback style. Today she runs alongside 13-year-old Olivia, a kind and confident seventh-grader who shares her mother’s passion for sports. 

The list of races they’ve run together is long and includes the Frightening 4K, which they have been doing every year since Olivia was 6 or 7. Olivia dons her cat costume, her mother dresses as a witch, and they’re off and running. Sophie often pulls ahead and then circles back for her daughter, encouraging her to keep going. They share a long laugh over the time Olivia “dropped a tail” and the person behind them picked it up and brought it to them. “That was a tricky one,” Sophie explains. “After that we started using safety pins.” 

Sophie and her husband met and married while working in England. Olivia was born after the couple moved to Vero Beach.
Sophie and her husband met and married while working in England. Olivia was born after the couple moved to Vero Beach.

While a recalcitrant tail may not rank among life’s great obstacles, Olivia is proud of how her mother deals with challenges. “If there’s a bump in the road, my mom’s just going to run over it.” She mimes kicking an obstacle out of the way. “All right, bump, we’re going to stomp on you and go. It’s full speed ahead.” 

For her part, Sophie is proud of her daughter’s generous nature. “She has a very big heart,” she says, adding, “Olivia is incredibly sensitive, caring, and thoughtful to others.” Her mother isn’t the only one who thinks so. Olivia has been honored at school and has bypassed birthday gifts and parties to donate instead to her favorite charity, Raining Cats Rescue.

The cat and the witch are a familiar sight at the annual Frightening 4K fun run
The cat and the witch are a familiar sight at the annual Frightening 4K fun run.

Even when they aren’t running, Sophie and Olivia keep putting one foot in front of the other. Their “midnight walks” around the neighborhood offer a slower-paced opportunity for them to bond. They head out in the late evening, usually on a weekend, and “chat through” all sorts of topics. “We regroup and review,” Olivia explains. “I tell her everything.” 

Finding that time to talk and listen and laugh together—without distractions and without rushing to judgment—is the key to keeping this relationship close. “She’s always there for me,” Olivia says. Offering advice to other daughters, she adds, “You have to trust each other.”

Matilde & Elizabeth Sorensen. Photo by Martina Tannery 1
Matilde & Elizabeth Sorensen. Photo by Martina Tannery

Matilde & Elizabeth Sorensen

Picture a pergola, the tendrils of a grapevine twirling tightly around its slats. This particular grapevine has its roots in the Dominican Republic, in Matilde Sorensen’s childhood home. Cuttings from that vine have traveled with her to every home she’s lived in, since first moving here as a bride in 1972. Now her daughter Elizabeth has her own pergola with a cutting from that same grapevine climbing its slats. 

Those tightly twined vines are an apt metaphor for the relationship between these two women, who work together in the family real estate business. Elizabeth describes her mother as also a friend and mentor. “There’s a lot on her shoulders,” she explains. “I’m proud of how she handles our family and how hard she works for us and her grandchildren.”

Stuffed grape leaves are one of the traditional dishes the two women still prepare together
Stuffed grape leaves are one of the traditional dishes the two women still prepare together.

“Mothers and daughters are very close in the Dominican Republic,” Matilde adds. “I’m proud of my daughter’s work ethic, and how caring she is, and how she loves her child.” The conversation is thick with laughter, and the affection between the women is palpable. “We’re truly lucky that we get along so well,” Elizabeth says. 

This flourishing grapevine has it roots in Matilde’s childhood home in the Dominican Republic
This flourishing grapevine has it roots in Matilde’s childhood home in the Dominican Republic.

Maybe it’s luck, or maybe it’s all those Sunday suppers. Every Sunday, “for forever,” family and friends have been making time to gather and share a meal around a beautifully set table. Matilde and Elizabeth love to cook together, whether they are making a simple favorite, experimenting with the fragrant spices they bring home from their travels, or preparing traditional recipes passed down through the years. One of those recipes is stuffed grape leaves, made with leaves from that vine twisting up the pergola. 

“When the leaves are soft,” Elizabeth explains, “we pick them and blanch them, then we stuff and roll each one.” It’s a labor of love, and that just might be the key to their secret for staying close.

Barbara Harrison & Colleen Keat, Diana Dichter & Emmy

For one Vero Beach family, “the tea kettle is always on.” This mother-daughter duo is actually a four-generation quad. The youngest of the group, 16-year-old Emmy, joins her mother, Diana Dichter; her grandmother Colleen Keat; and her great-grandmother Barbara Harrison to share the secret of how they mind the gap across the generations.

Emmy; her great-grandmother Barbara Harrison; her mother, Diana Dichter; and her grandmother Colleen Keat pull out the good china and dress up to share a festive weekend tea
Emmy; her great-grandmother Barbara Harrison; her mother, Diana Dichter; and her grandmother Colleen Keat pull out the good china and dress up to share a festive weekend tea.

Barbara, the matriarch of the group, came by her love of tea honestly. Born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, she married a man from Liverpool and moved with him to England, where they owned hotels in Devon and North Wales. For more than 20 years, they shuttered the hotels from November through April, fleeing England’s dreary winter to enjoy Florida’s sunshine and spend time with Barbara’s mother in Vero Beach. Gathering to share a pot of tea is all about family bonding, she says, “just sitting together and communicating.” She adds, “It makes the children better citizens.” 

Barbara’s daughter Colleen Keat met her husband while she was working in her family’s hotels. A nurse at Gifford Middle School, she continues to make frequent trips to England. For her, teatime is one of the traditions that keeps her memories of her father, who died at age 92, alive. “Smoked kippers for breakfast and a pot of tea,” she remembers fondly. 

Emmy, Colleen, Barbara, and Diana can always find a reason to celebrate together
Emmy, Colleen, Barbara, and Diana can always find a reason to celebrate together.

Diana Dichter, who moved with her family back from Utah so her children could grow up with their grandparents and great-grandparents, says they are always looking for an excuse to celebrate. Weekly tea parties at her house are special events. “We always use real china,” she says, “and we love to dress up.” Colleen elaborates: “My mother brings out her jewelry and acts like the queen.” Amidst laughter, Emmy adds that “keeping it classy” is the family norm, and Colleen chimes in, “You have to cover up the good bits!” 

The tea (Typhoo or PG Tips—both century-old British brands) matters, as does taking the time to prepare it properly. What matters most, though, is the conversation. For Emmy, a busy high school sophomore, spending time gathered around a table to drink tea and talk is something she was “born into.” Those family teatimes have already created special memories.

It’s matriarch Barbara who sums up her family’s simple secret to keeping close. “Always sitting together and communicating,” she says. “It’s a must.”

Facebook Comments