The Tenuous Relationships of Mothers and Daughters

mothers and daughters are always a difficult relationship

A Mother’s Lament

I always wanted a daughter. When I was pregnant, I dreamed of a little dark-haired girl running through a field towards me. And then she was born. And she had a head of dark curls, an impish face, and lips resembling Betty Boop. I was in heaven. I was a Mom….

There are days when, as a Mom, I’ve had incredible parenting moments. Those good days where my heart has swelled with pride and happiness and joy. And, then, there are the other days rife with what can only be called disastrous parenting moments. They are the ones where I was left wondering where I went wrong, what I could have changed, where I may have even equated mothering to the meaning of the universe.

Those are the days when being a Mom is just wearying. Tiring to the bone.

Today was such a day. A fatigue-creater. A tears-maker. A definite one for the throw-up-your-hands and throw-in-the-towel annals.

Any mom who has a special needs child will tell you that singular moments of greatness and frustration, joy and anger, why and why-not are so constant that they just blend together into an existence. As a mother of a gifted son with ADHD, I’ve been torn back and forth and up and down. Fleeing and flying emotions of love and hate blending and melding together until they just form a state of being.

I’m used to feeling like that. Like I did today.

But, surprisingly, today wasn’t about him. Well it did start as so, as does every day. But today, his problems-pervasive, never-ending and always sending me spiraling into sadness-took second seat to his older sister’s antics.

She’s almost an adult, yet still able to twist that knife deep into my gut with just a few words. She doesn’t like me to write about her, so this is about me..

My relationship with my own mother was always tenuous, always strained. There was, and always seems to be, a sense of disconnect. We do not get each other, in any sense of the word. She never really provided the unconditional and constant emotional support that I needed, and I never was, or so I thought, the daughter that she had envisioned. As an adult, I understand that I am in fact, exactly what she wants, but that her own fallibilities, her own problems, made her unable to show that to me. But, as a teenager, I didn’t know, didn’t care.

I swore that would never happen with my own girl. But, it has. Was it inevitable? It is impossible to escape the cliché of Mother-Daughter relationships? Will we be oil and water forever? Is it her age?

Teenagers are by nature egocentric. We give them a lot of leeway knowing that hormones and immaturity and god knows what else is driving their two-faces of Eve-ness. But when those digs come, those comments that imply that ALL their problems are your fault, that they’re hard done by, deprived, or they way they are because of how they were mothered, well, it’s had to remember. Hard to rise above.

When you have a baby, you imagine it gets easier as they get older. That by the time they are nearly 19, they won’t have the ability to make you doubt yourself. But today I had a day where it was hard to remember the good parenting moments. To remember the work I’ve done that has resulted in a strong, smart, independent woman.

Instead, my ego was smothered by accusations and perceived failures.

Today was a day that I felt like I wasn’t a ‘good’ mother to this daughter. I was baited even though I wanted to stay reasonable. I got angry even though I wanted to stay rational.

I second-guessed every single one of my parenting philosophies, wondering if maybe she should have had more chores more responsibilities more more less less less. Was I too nice, too mean, too attentive, not attentive enough?

The thoughts that consume a mother. Even after her child is grown.

I’m writing this because I want her to know (even though she’ll probably never read this), that I’m a person, not just her mother. I have feelings, and priorities, and failures, and successes and strengths, and weaknesses. I make mistakes. And I do great things too.

I want ME to know these things too. I’m reminding myself that I have good, bad, and sometimes ugly.

I’m human.

Before I was her mother, and long after, I want ME to know I did my best.

photo credit: Jose Chavarry via photopin cc


  1. Cindy @cincoencasa says:

    Typing through tears here. You caught me at your 1st sentence: `I always wanted a daughter`, because I always did too. After 2 miscarriages, my firstborn child: a daughter, was born. She will be 20 in less than a month. I too, wanted my relationship to be more open, to give her more support, and to `get her` more than my mom gave, offered, `got` me. For the most part, I truly believe I`ve succeeded in that, and my daughter has told me many times that we`ve got such a great relationship compared to most of her friends and their mothers. That makes me so happy, (I like the smooth sailing), and I try to remember those days when we`re going through an `oil and water` period.
    But alas, as you said:“Those are the days when being a Mom is just wearying. Tiring to the bone“. I know they are growing into independent young adults, but to be cruel and accusatory to us Moms is so hurtful. I too, have explained to my 3 teens that I am doing my best, that I am a person with feelings, and that sometimes they take me and my uncondtional love for granted. I started a part-time job a few months ago to not only earn some money, but mainly to separate myself from them a bit. As in: find your own way home from the bus, I won`t be there to pick you up, there`s a shuttle bus you can take. Or: here`s the crockpot, here`s the recipe, please start the ribs for dinner. Little

  2. Cindy @cincoencasa says:

    *Darn, my cursor shot over the `post comment` tab and posted before I was finished!
    Anyhow, just know that by doing our best we are doing the best we can for them. There is no manual, each child is different, and we parent them as we were parented, or by learning from that and changing it up a bit.
    And it`s not only Moms, a Dad and I were venting last week about our teens -he has 3 also- he was so frustrated he said `What on earth did I do to deserve this?`
    My big thing now is to let them know that yes, I do have feelings and to not talk to me in a way that they wouldn`t talk to anyone else..they are all becoming adults after all.

  3. Great post. I used to tell my kids when they smothered me with love and adoration (the tween still does and I know my days are numbered) that one day, they’d see the bigger picture – whatever I’m doing wrong as well – and that hopefully this love will still be in there somewhere. They would laugh but I was serious.

  4. Beautiful. No tougher job than parenting, can’t be said enough.

  5. Oh boy, touching and raw and oh so honest! I have a son who will turn 23 next week (he lives on his own), I ache for his little self some days and I to do the back and forth of, did I do enough, too much!? I think our own insecurities weigh heavily on our perception of what our children think of us…I know my own Mother’s did towards me… We sometimes do not (as teens) know what we have until we are on our own and fighting this battle called life! I did not give my Mom the respect she deserved until I was on my own… Do I today, hell ya! She still gets on my nerves, hell ya, but I love her flaws and all, oh and those flaws, ya a two way street! Well said about being human! Keep reminding yourself of that!

    ~Laurie @ Vin’yet Etc.

  6. Touching. I am afraid that my daughter and I will repeat the relationship that my mother and I had. I am holding on to the fact that as adults, my mom and I now have a great relationship. I have hope, but I am also afraid of what will come between now and then.

  7. What a beautiful post. Thank you! I too have a daughter (two now!). They’re 4 years old and 16 months old and I also have many of these thoughts. I think it’s a beautiful thing to allow your kids to see your failures and humanness!


  1. […] been nearly three years since my daughter, who turns 19 in May, started her driving adventures. She passed both her G1 (written) and G2 […]

  2. […] Because he said he always gives you the car so you’ll stop nagging him. […]

  3. […] it’s tempting to just let our kids get away with minor infractions like temper tantrums or general ass-hatedness. But, temptation be damned, sometimes they need to be called on their […]

  4. […] it’s tempting to just let our kids get away with minor infractions like temper tantrums or general ass-hattedness. But, temptation be damned, sometimes they need to be called on their […]

Speak Your Mind