Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mother, Daughter Relationships

This topic is swirling around in my mind, but the words won’t flow on to the paper. I don’t know why. My mother and I had a relationship that lasted over 50 years and I have raised two daughters for over 20 years. I should be able to write a book on it, but I can’t.

This relationship seems like both the most simple and the most complex of my relationships. There is pure unconditional love mixed with ongoing battles of every kind. I had it with my mom and I have it with my daughters. Being a mother myself has helped me to understand better why my mother said and did the things she did while raising me. I also wanted to avoid making some of the mistakes she made with me.

When you have a baby girl your just want to protect her from everything. The world is a bad place and it’s not getting any better. There is so much to worry about: child abduction, child abuse, date rape drugs, rape, teenage pregnancy, eating disorders, drugs, alcohol, drinking and driving. The worrying never ends, even as they get to be adults. You worry about if she will meet the right man, who will love her, respect her, protect her the way you have done all her life. A daughter cannot begin to imagine all the things that goes through a mother’s mind, especially as she gets more independent and we have less control over their lives.

When girls are little they look up to their moms, love spending time with us, cuddle with us; they are like our little clones. Then the hormones kick in, and they turn into know-it-all, agitated teenagers. If you look at them the wrong way they complain. If you ask a simple question they turn it into an argument. If you dare make a suggestion they hear it as criticism. It’s very hard to communicate in any meaningful way during those teenage years. They know everything and we know nothing. But, there is hope! From the years of 18 to 24 they gradually mature and even come to seek your opinion and advice. You are no longer the enemy. Suddenly, they realize that life experience counts for something and you may have knowledge they can benefit from. They are more open to our advice and guidance and even realize we have their very best interests at heart.

The mother, daughter bond is very special. We are both women and we understand how women think and feel. We can read each other’s minds and finish each other’s sentences, because we know each other so well. A daughter can go to her mother about anything and know it’ll be ok. A mother wants her daughter to feel she can always come to her and talk about anything. You can be friends to a degree, but it’s more important to be mother and daughter. It’s a difficult transition for mothers to make, as daughters become more independent, and we have to learn to let go. Just as mothers have to have realize and understand that their “baby” is now a woman, daughters need to appreciate that their mother’s have been looking out for them all their lives and cannot let go overnight. Just like when they were babies and we held on to their hands so they wouldn’t fall and get hurt, we are still holding on to them as adults, right or wrong, so they don’t make serious mistakes that will affect their future.

When I got married and had children, I learned to appreciate my mother even more. When grandchildren come along it’s comforting to have your mother there to help you figure out all the things you need to know. She is your expert. She did a great job with you, who else would you go to for advice? And grandmothers love their new role and seeing their daughters with their own babies. They know the overwhelming feelings of joy and happiness. But, most of all, they know and understand the infinite depth of love that having a new baby brings.

Every once in a while, my older daughter will call me Mommy, just because she knows I love to hear it…and you know it always brings tears to my eyes. They just grew up too fast.

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