Between Mothers and Daughters


102_0284 Between Mothers and Daughters

It’s difficult to say when the love/hate relationship began; but it appeared too soon for my liking. From the time I felt you shutter within me until the day we moved to the same city of your birth father, my love for you seemed flawless. Family Night Fridays, Girls-In-Action, and watching Louisiana cooking shows, life seemed so simple. Your silly laugh and awesome jokes made us gut-laugh. Who could have predicted our paths would come to such a crossroad of heightened emotions and estrangement.

I could sense a change in our relationship as adolescence morphed into teen years. You pressed for more freedom; and I held on tighter wanting to protect your innocence from the cruelty I knew awaiting fresh souls. The more I held on the more you pushed. The more I pushed, the more you resisted. That is symptomatic of the relationship between mothers and daughters.

Sitting in the family room watching Jerry Lewis movies and enjoying the sounds of laughter between a mother and daughter melted my heart. The joy and carefree spirits of girls who didn’t have a worry in the world. However, as a mother I knew that time would soon pass; but for the moment, innocence belonged to us. Very few arguments, disagreements, or power struggles, just freedom to live a life without complication.

Mom and daughter with faces together

Now, our relationship has changed and in a way that is not becoming of a mother and daughter. Past maternal relationships did not provide answers to struggles of new motherhood. Motherhood was by default without plans. Each day was a struggle to figure out the correct direction to happiness. Many times the plans were horrendously wrong and recovery sluggishly slowed.

Sometimes falling upon unwilling ears with humming sounds, motherly advice drowned out. The smacking of lips and the rolling of eyes, youthful responses interpreted as defiance. Neither party willing to compromise–motherhood trumped the maturing of youth.

tugofwar1The tug of war between mothers and daughters can be exhausting, sometimes leaving bitterness and regret. Mothers have no time to be their daughters’ best friends when working hard to teach them how to survive in a cruel and unconcerned world. Friendship follows emotional and psychological maturity.

Mothers learn from their mothers or motherly figures. Some mothers never talked about their childhoods or their relationships with husbands or the father(s) of their children. When daughters witness their mothers’ bitterness and disdain for life resulting in those mothers striking out at their children, an indelible emotional mark is left. For this reason, reminding daughters of their resemblance of their fathers leaves them recipients of frequent beatings. Nonetheless, some daughters will love their mothers because both need love.

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There would be no lessons on love or how to properly vet men. Men showed up either unannounced or spontaneously interjected into children’s lives. Some were nice; but many were not. Affection wasn’t part of her personality—no hugging, kissing, or the lying of the head on her lap. She seemed emotionally frozen. Children sensed something was amiss; but as children knowledge and understanding was limited. They could feel their mother’s internal darkness and pain and wanted to shoulder it, which would happen in due time. Therefore, when some children become mothers they vow to be a more affectionate, caring, and tolerant. In the eyes of their daughters, it appears mothers have failed miserably.

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Sympathy isn’t on the menu. Investigating the causes of the rift between mothers and daughters is the key to this mystery. Watching other mothers and daughters getting along so well—close and seemingly best friends—makes it much harder not to feel guilty. Why can those mothers and daughters love each other unconditionally when the love between some mothers seem so cold and distant? Where did they go wrong? When did the spiral into disdain begin?

A Middle Eastern woman with her daughter-in-lawMost mothers desire the best for their daughters, to be more successful, beautiful, and married to awesome men. Most mothers pray fervently that their daughters will be blessed with excellent health, great and trustworthy friends, and long life kindship. Most mothers would sacrifice their lives for their daughters to have the love of a man who would walk on hot coals or die in battle just for their daughter’s safely and security. If the sun and moon never shown again, most mothers would bear the pain of labor just to relive the placing of their newborn daughters upon their breasts.

I am that mother.

Sadness weighs heavy upon many mothers, especially when witnessing their daughter’s tragic relationships. It doesn’t matter how old a daughter gets she will remain her mother’s baby girl. When her daughter is hurting, the mother lion will seek and destroy whatever or whoever is the perpetrator. However, the more mothers fight for the right to love their daughters, some daughters resist such protection at every turn. It’s deemed meddling or an attempt to control their daughters’ lives. From a mother’s point of view, it is the deepest love we have and the costs we are willing to pay to ensure our daughters have better lives.

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The journey into adulthood is never easy. Life can beat and abuse the strongest person. No motherly protection will make a difference when life has other plans for her daughters. Yet, the path on which mothers and daughters journey can either be taken in tandem or in isolation. It’s up to the individuals whether they want to walk life alone or share their burdens with those willing to help carry them.

Mother and daughter relationships can be repaired in time; but it’s a partnership. It only takes one to cross the line of reconciliation. Again, it’s a partnership.

It’s okay to step back and heal one’s self. However, to allow too much time to pass increases the opportunity for the wedge to grow wider and deeper leaving the opportunity for years of healing to possibly disappear.

There is a rivalry between mothers and daughters; and many are in denial. Sometimes the daughter wants what the mother has and vice versa. This is normal. It’s only abnormal when this competition causes deep pain, suffering, and estrangement. It’s time to investigate and resolve issues hindering relationships between mothers and daughters.

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It’s a fickle thought how some daughters accept advice from another daughter’s mother; yet, complain about the advice of their own mother. All daughters experience this period of exploring the wisdom beyond their own mothers. Mothers offer wisdom to other daughters who are more receptive, praying secretly their daughters have overheard their advice. What a crazy game played between mothers and daughters. It can be so difficult and time consuming.

Many daughters cringe when people tell them how much they look like their mothers. Many daughters cringe when people tell them what a wonderful mother they have. Many daughters get irritated when told their mother is gorgeous. Many daughters profess never wanting to be anything like their mothers. Unfortunately, the mirror reminds daughters their mothers are within them no matter how hard they pray to look, talk, and walk differently. Mirrors never lie.

Mother Kissing Toddler's Cheek --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Someday some daughters will become mothers, too. The cycle will begin again with the lying of her baby upon her breasts. I hope that through love and understanding the bond will remain beyond death, never to be broken nor interrupted.