When I was in high school, Nike ran an ad campaign and I saw it, fell in love with it, printed it and posted it in my bedroom. Here’s the quote…
Yup, that was on my wall, or maybe my door in high school. Why? I’m not sure. I love love love my Mom, but I didn’t want to be boxed in or made to be anything other than what I wanted to be. I think I felt threatened by her and wanted to ensure that she and everyone else knew that I was ME and not HER, my competitive spirit screaming.
This morning, I got into a heated discussion with my Mom. HEATED. I know it bothers her deeply when we “fight.” It bothers me too. Neither of us ever wants to hurt the other one. However, I hear from female patients daily about how they struggle with their relationship with their MOTHER. I have set out today to explain and hopefully better understand this phenomenon of the Mother/Daughter relationship. I hope it speaks to you, or to your sister, or to your Mom.
Like I said, I LOVE my Mom. I remember how she always smelled so good, like “Beautiful” perfume from Estee Lauder, like lotion and perfume and dryer sheets. She has the softest skin and when I was hurting, really, really hurting, laying in her lap on the couch or being wrapped up in her, was the BEST PLACE ON EARTH. I wanted to be as beautiful as she was, I wanted to “run with the boys” the way she did, I wanted that strong feminist spirit, I wanted her strength, her fearlessness, her ability to walk into a room, dominated by men, and first get their attention with her beauty but then impress them with her ability to use her brain. SHE WAS A TRUE FEMINIST. I was and I am proud to be her daughter.
However, no matter how proud, I wanted to make my own way. I think deep down, I wanted to prove that I was good , that I could do it myself, not prove it to me or to the world but more prove it to MY AMAZING MOM. I so desperately wanted to show her how amazing I was, impress her, the way she had impressed me. Let’s see if I can articulate this.
I remember being in college, in Chicago, at my old, run down apartment near Loyola University. I was running a tight ship, 8AM classes and rehearsals in the Theater that ran until 10 or 11PM every night. I had no car, I took the L home from South side Chicago to the North side where I lived. I somehow completed homework and studied for tests in the midst of my crazy schedule and one weekend, I had a Sunday off. I decided to give my apartment a good cleaning, the way my Mom did my house when I was growing up. I wanted to clean the floors on my hands and knees and use Lysol, comet and bleach throughout the place. So, I began and about 3 hours in, I was on my kitchen floor, scrubbing it, and realized I had no food in the house. Suddenly, my Mom’s abilities hit me like a brick out of the sky. SHE CLEANED LIKE THIS EVERY WEEK. She did my laundry, cooked meals for me AND my step Dad, ironed his and her clothing, oh yeah, and she worked 50-60 hours a week and NEVER left the house without make up. WHOA….big shoes to fill, and major apologies to be made. I can’t remember if I called her ( long distance and she paid the bill ) or wrote a letter but I told her how amazing she was and thanked her for all she had done. I then set off to prove my worth TO HER.
Women of all walks of life connect on an emotional level. When women meet, we immediately share experiences. I met a woman last weekend and within less than an hour, we discussed where we were from, where we went to high school, how many siblings we had, we discussed that we had both been divorced, I learned a little about her ex, we talked kid birthday parties and how expensive it is to eat at Panerra. Through these discussions, we are saying, I get you, you are worthy and amazing, I approve and I hope you approve of me too. That approval, that discussion, is what connects us.
Women talk, we TALK A LOT. So, when a woman has a daughter and that daughter grows up and becomes a woman and that woman TALKS and shares experiences and tries to connect through talking about her experiences, I believe it makes her vulnerable to her Mother. See, Mom knows your experiences, she been there done that, OR she knows YOU, intimately, better than anyone else. Because she has a heads up on you and already knows you, it makes it hard to connect. There isn’t that shared connectivity that I mentioned before. There isn’t that moment of connecting through life experiences, it’s been done. I think with the daughter feeling vulnerable and the Mom being ahead of the game, it’s tough for the two to connect on a spiritual level.
Regardless of the difficulty in connecting , the love is deep and real and again creates vulnerability. So, I’m this strong spirit, almost 40, she’s this strong spirit at 65, she’s lived through the feminist era and succeeded in big corporate business, I’m started my own business and proved my worth, we’ve both been divorced and had babies, we’ve both had our hearts broken by life. We are both strong, educated, spirited, competitive and AMAZING WOMEN. How, in that feminine way of using words and emotion to connect, can these two women connect spiritually without competing, without getting heated, without the need to WIN.
As you can imagine, this subject matter is extremely important to me, one that I will revisit because I have 3 daughters and I am determined to create a peaceful environment for them to grow up in. One where they can feel safe but also feel encouraged to let their amazing spirit shine. I never want to dampen their spirits or make them feel like they have to compete with me. I want them to know that I am here to hold them up, support them, love them and be their biggest fan. My Mom accomplished a lot of that for me, but I was only one, and I now have to figure how to accomplish it for three gorgeous ladies.
I read in a book that if Mom and Daughter are having difficulty connecting on a spiritual level, trouble with constant fighting or a battle of wills in those teenage years, the best thing to do is to DO SOMETHING together, shop, play golf, play tennis, get your nails done or go for a walk. Avoid the topics of discussion that often end in a fury with Mothers and Daughters by doing something physical together that allows you to spend time together, quality time, maybe even competing but avoiding life’s discussions.
I have a new mantra when I put my girls to sleep at night. I now say ” I am humbled and honored to be your Mom, THANK YOU for allowing me the honor.” My 4 year old, Tessa replies with ” well, you are the best Mommy that I’ve ever had. ” My 7 year old McKenzie ( who is a FORCE) smiles, giggles and says ” you’re welcome” my Skyler, 9 yrs old, says ” Mommy, I didn’t allow it, God chose you to be my Mom so don’t thank me, I didn’t do anything, just be thankful. ” WHOA….I have so much to learn.
I think the biggest lesson in all of this today, is … my girls want my approval, they want so much to make me proud, I want so much to give them that joy. The joy that says, your Mom is proud of YOU and WHO YOU ARE.
I asked some amazing women who have lost their Moms, what they would want to say to them….I loved the responses and they brightened my day and my life.
“I miss talking to my mom daily. I would call her all the time for recipes. My mom was so proud of her cooking. She taught me so about cooking and just being a wonderful mom, she had so much patience. I try to follow her footsteps. I am sure my mother is a saint in heaven. She deserves it so.”
“I miss everything about her. She was my best friend.”
“I would need to know if I made her proud! You see, my mom was the” family rock”…the one that held “everything” together, and it has always been my dream to be “just like my mom.” She is my rock! She could wipe away anything negative happening in my life. Her smile would shine thru the phone…her laughter would melt my troubles. I do believe she is my angel from Heaven and that I am surrounded by her love…sometimes I can even smell her and that comforts me…”
“I miss her smile, I miss her laugh, I’m afraid I’m starting to forget it.”
I don’t ever want to take my Mom and what she has taught me for granted. I know how lucky I am. I hope my Mom knows ( I know she’s reading this because she’s my biggest fan) I hope she knows that I love and admire her and want nothing more than her love and her APPROVAL. I also hope that I can be a source of inspiration, support and love for my three girls.
If you have a moment, comment by letting me know your favorite thing about your Mom …. I will love reading it!