I remember the most random childhood events.
When I was three-ish, I wanted to play house, and my mom was the only one around to play. So we played house. Only I made her be the kid, and I got to be the mom. I thought I had it made, because that meant I was boss for a few hours. For some reason, she went along with it. (I remember, I sent her to bed early.)
When I was a toddler, I was addicted to this vinyl Wizard of Oz record. I remember it was orange. I never tired of listening to it, so Mom flipped it from side A to side B. Then back to side A and then side B. And then A and B again. How did she not tear her hair out? I’m sure I listened to it all day.
In fact, I remember being addicted to several things—the move “Katie the Caterpillar,” Disney books with read-along tapes, a cassette tape of Franz Schubert waltzes, bike rides to Seven Gables park, taking my doll Rosie with me absolutely everywhere (and then usually forgetting it in some store aisle), prairie stories and adventures… and probably more. What is it that enables moms to put up with all our silly quirks and addictions?
I also remember making brownies with my mom. Once she actually trusted me to stay alone with the brownie batter long enough for her to run upstairs for something.
Yeah, that was a mistake.
She returned to find one solid finger swipe-mark in the perfect batter. I had a time-out under the dining room table (I was very small—probably three) for the offense, and I cried—not because I was remorseful, but because I knew I wasn’t getting any more batter.
I also remember playing paper dolls, my little pony, barbies, house, and dolls. I remember naming each and every one of my dolls and praying with them before we all went to bed—them spread out over the length of it while I scrunched into a corner to give them space. My mom often prayed with me and allowed me to tuck in each of my dolls and stuffed animals without laughing at my ridiculous ritual. At least, not in front of me.
Mainly, I remember my mom being my first friend.
I also remember her being the foundational friend—there when other friends were not. I remember unconditional love that began before any of these memories written above.
How many of you can relate? Mothers spend so much time with their children. Pour into them. Teach them. Spend much of their daily lives raising them.
Yet so often mother-daughter relationships are so complicated. Mothers and daughters know each other better than most people, and yet they each manage to get under the others’ skin. Often. In the younger years, daughters manage to drive out their mothers’ last shred of sanity until she loses her temper and sprouts a few gray hairs. And as daughters age, mothers somehow seem to exasperate them in a way no one else does.
I’ve hardly talked to a woman that didn’t have strong emotional feelings regarding her relationship with her mother. She could talk about kids, husband, and everyone else, but when it came to “mom” something changed. As if there was this extensive history that still impacted her. Maybe she can’t even lay her finger on it. So what is it that makes this special relationship often so tenuous? So heavy with emotion?
I’m not writing this to provide an answer, because I have none. Maybe mothers and daughters are too close, know each other too well. Maybe two women really can’t coexist under one roof. Perhaps the long-standing, unconditional love relationship is simply taken for granted.
What I do know is this. They’re both human, full of mistakes, but they both care. They try, and desire a good relationship with the other.
No mother is perfect, but they really do love their kids and have great intentions. As someone said, when a woman has a child, it’s like someone removed her heart and let it walk around outside her.
And daughters may snap at their mothers or roll their eyes, but at the end of the day, she will always treasure the unconditionality of her mother’s love. The world will toss her around and she’ll return to that safe haven.
So, yes. There is often drama between mothers and daughters. After all, two people who spend this much time together, know each other this well, are bound to rub each other the wrong way at times. Maybe even for years at a time.
When I talk to people on both sides of this relationship, the overwhelming feeling expressed is, “I’m trying. Really, I am. And I wish she understood that.” On both ends.
Sometimes my mother oversteps her bounds, but I know she just really wants to be involved. And to help. Sometimes I snap and lose patience with her, but that comes from the frustration of things I want to say but don’t know how to express. The frustration only compounds when I try hard and pray and reach out, only to have one mistake seem to shatter all that effort.
If I could tell mothers and daughters one thing, it would be this. Realize that the other person IS trying. Give them the benefit of the doubt as well as forgiveness when it’s needed. And then go on and love them regardless of whatever hurt they may inadvertently cause you. Don’t toss this unique relationship just because the other isn’t perfect.
Despite all the drama, heartache, misunderstanding and issues, a mother daughter relationship is life-long. Your mother will always be your mother, even if she drives you nuts (and she will). Your daughter will always be your daughter, even if she makes life difficult (and she will). Embrace the person, and let go of the mistakes. Realize that people change, and maybe they’ve changed more than you notice, but also don’t ever expect them to be perfect. And don’t let the mistakes of either one keep you from one of the most important relationships God established in a woman’s life.