The Thing about Mothers

This is a question I’m throwing out to to the world–Is there any daughter out there who has zero hang-ups with their mothers?

Mothers hold that unique position in our lives– we love them, but we also love to hate them for one reason or another.

Judging from all the people I’ve spoken with, it seems that this experience is not mine alone. My mother, bless her, can single-handedly shred my confidence with a lift of an eyebrow! I can recall countless incidences where I’ve shown what I’ve thought were superb works only to be told, “It’s okay.” (With a sniff.)  And she’s not even a Tiger Mother! (Or maybe Asian moms are a little bit like each other…another topic for another day).

So this is my theory (and yeah, feel free to negate my point of view)—Just as daughters will always have this fear of living up to their mother’s expectations, moms too are always going to be a little bit fearful of their daughters (hence the unintentional hostility).

Ok, before all the mothers out there bring out their pitchforks and suggest that I be tied to a burning stake, let me just say that I am not qualified in any professional way to back my thoughts up with research. I am not a psychologist. But, as I am a daughter, and a mom to a daughter, I am basing my theory purely from my personal experience.

As a daughter, I have always looked up to my mom. She is, in my opinion, the embodiment of a strong, successful woman. She cared for all four of her kids (and still does) as she ran her own business (which then became businesses). She writes books, gardens, cooks—plus she deals with my father on a daily basis (which is a feat in itself).

And so, as a daughter who idolizes her mom, I am naturally drawn to what she does. I started my own business, I wrote books, I cook and bake, and just recently, I have started caring for plants (just succulents though, nothing too crazy). Here’s the rub though. Every time I ask her to read one of my stories, she comments that my Filipino grammar is bad. When I started to take gardening lessons (for the succulents), she scoffed at me for paying for lessons when it was so simple to do. I even got laughed at for taking a parenting seminar (“Why did you take that class when you could have just asked me?!” Mom said).

This bothered me for a long time, until I stumbled on my theory–could it be that my mom was a little bit scared of me? Was she looking at me as a possible de-throner? To an aging queen (sorry, mom), who was used to leading her queendom uncontested, did I really pose a believable threat?

Now that I have a daughter, as early as now, I already think she will exceed me (and of course, that is my hope for her as well). Am I a little bit hostile at times because of this growing reality? Methinks it’s still too early to tell. I am still better at her at most things (except maybe in reading directions—she gets that from her father). Maybe when she starts outwardly negating me, then the hostility will surface. Or maybe I will have chosen what I am imagining myself to be when I grow old—a wise and gracious sage-mother who will willingly part with her throne, accepting and embracing the next queen, merely passing on the wisdom of my years. Maybe, but someday, I think I will struggle with it as well.

A mother-daughter relationship is definitely a complex one, full of twists and turns. But at the end of the day, it is also possibly one of the deepest connections that I will make with another human being.

Belated Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. Here’s to exciting adventures with all your children!

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