I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about relationships.
Specifically about mother-daughter relationships.
I firmly believe that all mother daughter relationships are complicated.
I’m not sure how they couldn’t be. Mothers are complicated in that if you boil it down to the most basic function, we’re kind of flying by the seat of our pants with the task of keeping other, smaller humans alive. Daughters are complicated in that they learn how to be women from the adult woman they spend the most time with. Of course, what they don’t know is that we don’t exactly know how to be women any more than they do, we’ve just been pretending longer.
But here’s another thing I know about the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters: with enough love and honest communication it can be a truly spectacular experience.
While it’s hard for me to have conversations with my daughters about my own mother, luckily they both knew and loved her, and I think they both know they were loved by her. Though they will tell you that she terrified them. They also understand that they’re pretty fortunate that I’m their momma and she was not. Of course, I’ve f**ked them up in my own special way.
Yes, I did say sorry…but it had a question mark behind it. And they received this message when they were together, so they laughed and then told me they love me.
I am a weird mom. They certainly have character.
I’m going to call this one win-win.
Hey, at least we can have honest and intimate conversations.
It’s curious to me how different my relationship is with each of my daughters. Thing 1 and I are close in a way that’s completely different than the way Thing 2 and I are close.
Here’s an example of a conversation with Thing 2 regarding how it’s easier to love than to learn to be loved:
This is one screenshot of a long and beautiful conversation we had about love and relationships, that awed us both.
I’m actually having a text conversation with her right now as I’m writing this. I expressed that I’m struggling to write after not for so long, she shared that Mercury is in retrograde and that makes words tricky.
This is interesting because I’ve been losing words again this week. I continue to chalk it up to my brain never actually healing properly…but if it’s Mercury being in retrograde, I’ll take it. (must learn what a planet in retrograde actually means)
But I digress…(YBW would tell y’all that’s par for the course with me)
The way that Thing 2 and I are close is an easy yet deep intimacy. We can talk of deeply personal feelings and the whys and wherefores behind them.
My daughter’s muchness is something I’ve discussed before. It’s something everyone that knows her is acutely aware of. The trick of it is that it truly is undefinable. She’s hit a beautiful developmental place in which she understands that her muchness is powerful. She understands that it will be what keeps her standing when life tries to knock her down. What she doesn’t yet understand is how exactly to tap into it to make it work for her. But she is young, that will come in time. Only when you’re twenty, you don’t often feel like time is on your side.
Thing 2 has told me countless time in the last two months that I’m awesome, or a wonderful mother, or something of the like. She also said, “You’re the best Momma We really don’t tell you enough”
We really don’t tell you enough.
But when she does tell me…
Thing 2 and I have the ability to open our hearts to each other and just kind of move seamlessly back and forth between the two.
My relationship with Thing 1 is loving, but with a practical twist. We don’t have the ease of intimacy between us. I think it’s partly because of our personalities. I worry that it’s partly because of the way our relationship faltered when she was a teenager. I oftentimes think that I should have worked harder to stay connected with her instead of being as stubborn as I was.
Only I can’t shoulda coulda woulda myself to death. We lived through that. We survived it, and found our way back to each other.
And honestly, we were never all that intimate before that time. So I believe we’re in a strong and healthy place that is similar to the one we were in before that time.
Thing 1 is quick to call with practical questions. ‘How to’ questions and ‘What about this’ questions. Our relationship manifests itself in a practical way. It’s interesting, she always called me Mommie, but when Thing 2 first began talking she said, Momma. Eventually, Thing 1 switched to Momma too. Unless she’s feeling particularly needy. If she’s physically or emotionally sick she will use Mommie.
Right before we went down to her house for Thanksgiving, I got a text about a reoccurring health issue of hers.
Observe the use of Mommie.
When my girls were little and hurt or scared or whatever, I would bandage their boo boos, or help them feel safe and it always ended with a big kiss to give them a dose of “Momma(ie) poison”. Mommie(a) poison is that lasting bit of me helping them heal or keeping them safe. Sometimes you need great doses, sometimes you might just need a booster.
Well, Thing 1 needed a big ol’ dose and she got it when I arrived at her home. It was good for both of us.
We have loving conversations. They’re of the practical variety more so than of the existential variety. One powerful conversation we had was about mental health. However tricky it is, we share common ground when it comes to diagnosed mental health issues. And she is the person I wanted to talk with when I was wrestling with the emotional aspects of my physical health. She reminded me I hadn’t always been “sick” and I would not always be “sick”. She fully supported my decision to go back into therapy. She reminded me that if I was aware of this emotional struggle then I was already better off.
Seems we rely on each other for that practical kind of love. Maybe sometimes I need a dose of Thing 1 poison too.
Mothers and daughters are tricky, curious beasts. What’s wonderful about that is the fact that weird mom’s do build character. Weird daughters build flexibility in even the most control freak moms. We can fly by the seat of our pants and love and learn and grow all at the same time.
Mothers of daughters have the unique blessing of seeing how their girls relate to each other. From the time they’re children through their teenage years and into adulthood. The relationship between my daughters makes my Grinchy heart grow three sizes every time I even think about it. Their love for each other is truly something to behold.
How blessed am I to not only love each of them, but to be party to the love they share!?!
Mothers and daughters have been on my mind for months now. After my realization that I suffered insecure attachments and was (am?) and unloved daughter, I’ve actively worked to suss out my place in this world as a daughter and as a mother. This new understanding created more confusion that I could have imagined. I needed this time to sort it all out. To find a way to have it make sense. To adjust my personal barometer when it comes to mothers and daughters.
Like the Grinch, I puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was sore. But, I finally feel like I can put it to rest.
I can leave the tricky and curious world of mothers and daughters knowing I’m more informed than ever before. And while I’m not sure I’ll ever be truly comfortable as a daughter, I know being a mother is my truest joy.
Perhaps I didn’t experience unconditional love as a daughter, but I certainly have as a mother. And that actually is enough.