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Contemplating the Mother-Daughter Relationship This Mother’s Day

Contemplating the Mother-Daughter Relationship This Mother's Day
Me and my mother at her 100th Birthday!

I know today is Mother’s Day and it’s the day to celebrate our mothers. We are our mother’s daughters. However, after taking a shower this morning, I did not feel like writing a flowery message. Now you may be asking, “Honey, why are you telling me about your shower?” Well, here is my story.

My “Shower Experience”

My thoughts startle me in a most positive way when I am in the shower. They are always logical and organized. As the warm water cascaded over me this morning, I closed my eyes and saw myself walking in a peaceful but vibrant rainforest. The scene suddenly changes when three generations of women appear…my mother, my daughter, and me.

I am standing with outstretched arms. One hand is reaching out to my mom who celebrated her 100th birthday on April 14th and the other hand is reaching out to my daughter, Jenny. They are smiling as they walk toward me and though I have a smile on my face my mind is thinking about my relationship over the years with my mother

My Relationship with My Mother

I am my mother’s daughter up to a point and I say that with love and respect. The bond a daughter feels toward her mother, no matter the circumstance can never be broken. My mom at 100 years old is still a ‘force’ to be reckoned with. As a child and young adult, I did not do well when ‘forced’ to do anything and that caused friction between us.

She would critique my behavior and my style because she told me she loved me and cared.  I knew she did, but that did not pacify me or stop me from trying things my way. My mom ruled the roost, and though I thought I was suffering, but I left home at eighteen with a sound moral compass. I knew what was right and I learned good values that have boded me well all of my life.

Now, back to my shower…

As I see my mother walking very slowly toward me, with outstretched hands and twinkling blue eyes and a big smile, I feel her power invade my body and I feel strong. I observe her style and her manner as she walks toward me and think of her lessons and know that her force will be everlasting. And, I am glad. My mother’s flaws were forgotten years ago because I realized how fortunate I am to live each day with her teachings in my head.

Yes, we had our trials and woes as mother and daughter. And, some were real corkers. Even when I knew I was right I always picked up the phone or walked into her room and apologized; many times with my fingers crossed and hidden behind my back as a symbol that acknowledged that I knew I was right. But nevertheless, it was more important to me that I honor and show respect to my mother rather than taking a stand.

Chapters of Stories

I never think of my mom leaving this planet. I have had a mom for so many years that it never dawns on me that I will be motherless one day. As her hand folds into mine I give it a squeeze because I don’t ever want to let it go…

Darling, I envision stories of my mothers and my long relationship in a book that is filled with chapters of stories. As water cascades over me, I ask myself, “Should I edit the book?” I know the answer is no because each chapter was a work in progress, a coming together of two minds; that of a daughter and her mother. My mother gave me my roots and my wings, the ability to handle what life throws me, and the wings to see life at its fullest.

Mother-Daughter Relationships – No Two Are Alike

Our mothers were our first teachers. The early years for every mother were the easy ones. Daughter needs mother. Mother needs daughter. It was the time of building the everlasting bond. It was the time our mothers and our teachers taught us the importance of a strong code of values; honesty, loyalty, charity, forgiveness, achievement, and the invaluable importance of giving and accepting love. As little girls, we were receptive to our mother’s every word. Our mothers were our safety.

My Teen Years

In my teens, I began to take on my own identity and realized I did not want to be my mother’s clone. I remember my mother wanted me to wear my hair short. I wanted to wear my hair long! She won.

She was no longer my ‘only’ role model as I began forming my own opinions and ideas that did not match hers. The tug of war began. Some mothers have an uncanny sense of sound parenting and know how to ride out the struggles. Others needed a book and there are none.

As Daughters Become Mother’s

As daughters become mothers they can’t help but notice they have certain traits of their mothers. I don’t think there is a one pattern fits all mother-daughter relationship, even in the same family. Each sibling has their individual identity. In my family, one of my daughters is my clone to the point of walking as I walk! My other daughter does not want to waltz with me. This was her decision and I found it most interesting when going through notes and letters from my daughters. The daughter that does not want to waltz together wrote more loving notes and letters than the daughter who loves to waltz with her mother!

As I shower, I watch my mother and my daughters in the rain forest. My mother and Jenny have outstretched arms reaching for mine; my other daughter is standing back, alone. I feel sorry for her because she is the daughter who said to me, as a young wife and mother, “I love you more than you will ever know.”

Unexpected Family Trauma

I think unexpected emotional traumas that effect an entire family can have disruptive ramifications in a mother and daughter relationship. And, I think when the traumatic experience affects the mother, too, the dynamics in the family shifts. Such was the case when my late husband and the father of my daughters suddenly and unexpectedly died. I was in my forties, my daughters in their early twenties.

We had been a very tight family; the family that played together and my daughters revered and adored their father. The shock of his death was overwhelming for all of us. And the later shock of their mother holding hands with another man was almost too much to bear because my daughters were raised in the Islands where life was gentle and children never seemed to leave the nest. Suddenly they lost their father and I believe to this day they felt they lost their mother too, to another man, my Ultimate Concierge.

A New Life Lesson

What they did lose was ’their family’ and coupled with that they gained a new family. Life changed and though I tried to be the best I could be as a mother to my girls and a wife in a new marriage, I could never please any of them enough. The effects were enormous. And, one of the lessons I learned that I would like to pass on is this:

Daughters will always see themselves as your child even when they are wives and mothers. Most adult children leave the nest and fly and no longer want to be dependent on their mothers. I was that type of child. My daughters were not. They loved the nest. They needed me more than ever and I tried so hard to be both mom and new wife but it was not enough in their minds. And, I take that as a supreme compliment. Of course, they knew I loved them. It was missing me and the loss of their father and our original family that left scars.

I hope none of you or your adult children go through the passage my daughters and I were forced to take. But, if such a situation arises, I hope I have given you some tools to guide you through the rain.

A Family Trip

My Ultimate Concierge and I are taking our first trip since COVID next Friday. It is my birthday and my granddaughter Skylar’s birthday. We are flying to visit Jenny and family in Arizona. I have already received two birthday presents filled with love; the trip from my Ultimate Concierge and hearing the excitement in Jenny’s voice! “Oh mom,” she said, “I am so excited you are coming.” Then of course my son-in-law in the background yelling out the same message. It is called love. Darling, I cannot ask for anything more.

A Blended Family

I am also the mother-in-law and grandmother of our blended family. I love my role. And, I don’t feel like a step-grandmother. I am their grandmother and they are my grandchildren. Blood often does not unite. Love and respect do.

If I could have my wish, I wish we owned a huge hacienda and we all lived together as a huge family instead of living in seven different states. I would love that; a multigenerational mix of young and middle age and ‘no age’ that hung out together, learned from one another, protected each other, and one big happy family.

Happy Mother’s Day

With the ending of my story, I leave you with this…

Did you know that the scholars say the umbilical cord that connects mothers and daughters can never be severed? I agree, even though there are times daughters wonder in horror, “How could this be!” I am smiling because I am so lucky to still have my mother and proud to be my mother’s daughter. I want to believe that underneath all the layers of the mother-daughter relationship, all daughters feel the same.

Thank you for sharing part of your mother’s day with me. I hope you have a wonderful day!

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