Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mothers and Daughters

Much has been written about mothers and daughters but I think maturity plays a big part in our growth with this special and often times volatile relationships.  I now understand more and more about my relationship with my mother and even my daughter as I get older. I felt the need to say more for two reasons: Yesterday I met two women while  out eating with my daughter in Westwood and we started to chat about various things. At one point we were discussing that there were only two months of the year where there was no holiday to celebrate.  Well one of these ladies mentioned May, immediately after the other had mentioned that in June there was Father’s Day. When I said Mother’s Day was in May, and even if she wasn’t a mother she had a mother so she should never forget that holiday.  She then said that she didn’t  have much to celebrate there.She began to  briefly explain why she felt this way and how she can see the love between myself and my daughter.  Yes it is true that my daughter and I have a great relationship and we love each other, but more importantly we respect and even like each other. I went on to say that my mother and I didn’t have the kind of relationship that I have with my daughter, my mother was a good parent, and I now realize that she has loved me all along, even when I didn’t think that she did. The second reason is that I had a dream about someone that has never liked me since I was a teenager, and her cousin happens to be a close friend of mine.  In the dream, the woman’s adult daughter was in tears because every time she is around her mother she is brought to tears, and my friend was telling me this.  The daughter went on to tell me about all of the things she has accomplished in her 24 years, and that she was also marrying a young guy that was also quite accomplished, but her mother could and did always make her feel bad about herself.  So I started to talk to her about some of the same things in this dream, that I had talked to the two ladies in Westwood about earlier that day. It has always been said, that we start to understand our mothers more when we become mothers ourselves, but in my case I didn’t really understand my mother until I got married.  At that point I stopped seeing her as just my mother and all that I expected from her and all I expected her to be. I started to see her as a woman. That is when the light went off. I started to see her as another woman like myself that had to navigate things with all of the emotion and hormones raging inside.I realized then, that a person can only give you as good as they got.  They can only give what they know, because they too are human with all the shortcomings as anyone else.Hence, why dysfunction is passed down from generation to generation.  We try to give our children something better than what we have had, and because we didn’t really have it ,we don’t know how to give it, so therefore, we improvise and do the best that we can. Often times when we are little girls, we dream of what we want our own families to look like, and that is usually composed of the things we believe we missed out on, so if we are smart we try to change the pattern.  This is what my mother did and this is also what I did. I was an only child and both of my parents came from divorced families, and they are still married after 50 years; something that they both agreed  they didn’t want to happen in their family.  My parents sent me to the best schools in my hometown and sent me to great college, provided me with a better house than they grew up in, as well as every material possession imaginable. They paid for me to be involved in everything from pageants to debutante balls. These were all the things that they didn’t have growing up. They were African American, growing up in the South during the 50’s and 60’s.
Yes, they were strict and big disciplinarians. My parents taught me the importance of good manners, morals, and respect for others, and if you didn’t get it right, I am from the generation where they would beat it into you.  No ,no, no, there was no child abuse, but they did not believe in sparing the rod.  That was the generation they were from, where ‘a child was seen and not heard’ and ‘I am the parent not your friend’. So see, they gave me a solid foundation and stability some of what they learned from their parents and some of what they dreamed for themselves. I broke their hearts when I had a baby out of wedlock at the age of 25.  Most would not think that it  was such a big deal because of my age, but my parents did, because it was not their dream for me, and let us not forget, that is just not what good southern girls do. However, they fell in love with my daughter from the moment she came into this world. They are so proud of her and they give her everything just like they did me. I raised my daughter on the same principles of which I was raised, but not necessarily by the same methods.  I am more of a free spirit and wanted more than anything to have a good relationship with my daughter, and I was successful in that.  I am sure that I too have fallen short, because there are no perfect parents just as there is no manual that comes with those babies.  We all just do the best we can. We have to forgive our mothers and forgive ourselves in this life, because if you don’t the disappointment and hurt will dictate many aspects of your life. There comes a time when we can no longer blame our parents for who were are, we have to take responsibility for our own lives, find a way to love ourselves in spite of what others think of us.  Heal  that hurt and Live.

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