December 18, 2012

Mom reflection

I just wrote this comment on a friends blog. She was reflecting that she knows very few Mother/Daughter relationships that are good. Another person commented and wondered if part of the problem is moms projecting themselves onto their daugthers and not allowing them to be their own person. Here's my response to both of them:

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Given the caveat that a mother who has been dead for 15 years colors my view, overall we had a good relationship.

I think the previous commenter has a good point about Moms not letting the child be their own person. My Mom seems to have been very unusual in the degree of autonomy she gave each of us.

For my college graduation my Mom wrote a poem about how I'd been her teacher. That I'd been born with such a distinct personality that she learned from the beginning to let me be the person God designed me to be. She was definitely not perfect and when we shared a house she drove me CRAZY, but she had a lot of wisdom.

She let me express anger. At her. She asked for forgiveness. She viewed our primary relationship as sisters in Christ and therefore (sometimes) made room for me to speak into her life. Even when I was 7-year old who knew it all.

When I fell, she told me I'd be fine (rather than running to comfort me). When I dyed my hair black as a teenager, she said it was striking. She wouldn't let me dress immodestly, but otherwise, was ok letting me express myself through clothing (even a punk rebellion). She told me to trust my intuition. By expressing her real emotions, she showed me how to handle mine.

I think it's possible to have a good mother/daughter relationship, but I think it requires a Mom who isn't threatened by her daughter and who can make a lot of room for God to be the one who is in control.
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Do you have a good relationship with your same-gender parent? Why or why not?

[On a different level, it's a relief that I can write a post like that and have it feel good, yet matter-of-fact. I know that a few years ago it would have brought up many overwhelming emotions.]

4 comments:

OTR sister said...

Mom did a lot of things right.

It's interesting to think of this question in terms of how I relate to my daughter. Am I giving her the freedom she needs to be her own individual?

I think what's tough is she's so similar to me, I GET her. It feels like I understand her better than I do anyone else. But then sometimes I'm surprised, like when I assume she's really nervous before performing on stage and she's fine. So I have to stop myself from putting my issues on her.

It's early days but I hope I can keep our good relationship and not cause too many years of therapy in the future.

Elizabeth Harper said...

I have loads I want to say, but no time to write it in this moment, plus I want to think a while before I respond. That's the great thing about your posts ... they always make me think! Thanks for this lovely and thought provoking one.

My thoughts are many, both from the perspective of a daughter, and the mother of a daughter myself. I'll be back later ... if Christmas and other responsibilities don't swallow me whole.

Inkling said...

You are so wise. And I am one grateful girl that you share your thoughts so well.

Jack Towe said...

Two thoughts.

Phyllis McGinley wrote a poem about thirteen being no age at all. It includes a memorable line about mothers:
"Relentlessly they understand you."

Tuesday night, OTR sis showed what an excellent mother she is. She and I were sitting on the couch talking. Her five-year old son got behind her and was really bugging and interrupting her. So, she reached behind her and tickled his bare feet.

It really help when a mother has a sense of humor -- both in actions and words. In contrast, if you brother had done that to your mother, she would have exploded.

Why did I write "if"? The word was "when". He did it to your mother several times daily, always with her predictable reaction. He would have been blessed if she could have surprised him -- as OTR sis did with her son.

By the way, OTR sis, you're doing excellently well with both your children.