Mother Daughter Relationships
I’m both a mother and a daughter. Both these relationships have been and are fraught experiences. I’m the unloved daughter of an unloving mother who I phased out of my life, and the mother of a daughter who has rejected me and I now consider estranged.
Mothering and daughtering has not been an easy thing. It’s not for many of us. There’s a certain amount of shame attached to failing both, if this is your story too. Mother daughter relationships are supposed to be oozing with unconditional love, and that hasn’t been the case for me. And it’s not easy to admit that I’m the common denominator. Why does my daughter hate me? Why did my mother not love me? Is there something wrong with me? Why am I so unlovable?
On this page, you will find a collection of my essays and writing about both being a mother and parenting a daughter. I have organised this page chronologically, so you can see how my thinking (and writing) has progressed and evolved over time. In a nutshell, what I am doing by writing about these relationships is seeking to understand these relationships and why they’ve turned out the way they have. With any luck, when you read what I have to say, and possibly recognise yourself in my essays, you won’t feel so alone.
2021: As a mother
I share my disappointment and betrayal at not hearing anything from my daughter for Mother’s Day. At this point, she hasn’t spoken to me since March, a week or so after her wedding. Note to self: I will need to explain what happened in another post for context.
March – Say No, The Yes, To The Dress
I’d only been back in Australia for a few months, and was looking forward to my daughter’s wedding. Finding a dress that met with her approval was hard though, but I was eager to please her and be involved. You can pick up the undercurrent of disdain from my daughter.
2020: As a mother
In this braided essay, I go back in time and analyse my journey as a mother, from the time even before my daughter was born. It’s an attempt to explain her contempt towards me.
2017: As a mother and daughter
December – So My Mother Died
My mother died when I was in Vietnam. In this essay, I sort through my feelings about her death, including my gratitude that being overseas was an excellent reason not to go to her funeral.
October – Like Mother, Like Daughter
In this essay, I compare my relationship with my mother and daughter, and discover that I just want to love and be loved by mother and my daughter and I am not. In fact, it’s almost like they are the same people, and mirror each other.
May – All My Children
I loved being a mother to my daughter, particularly when she was small and our relationships wasn’t complicated and before she rejected me. In Vietnam, I volunteered for a social enterprise and the young adults in training adopted me as their surrogate mother. It was a fulfilling and happy time.
2016: As a mother
My daughter is my family — the family I chose to have. Although she doesn’t view our relationship as important, I do. And, despite everything, I want it to be positive and fun and nurturing, but also let go any expectations that this will be the case.
2015: As a mother
September – She’s Moving Out
I’m relieved when my daughter tells me she is moving out, but mourn the state of our relationship. I’m assured that as she gets older, she will view me in a more compassionated light. I’m not so sure.
2014: As a mother and daughter
December – On Christmas Memories
I have two sisters, one I love and the other I don’t like. My daughter knows why, and yet she chose the sister I don’t like over me for Christmas. To say I was hurt and devastated is an understatement.
December – Failure to Launch
Six months after her ill-fated 21st is where I notice my daughter’s sense of entitlement kick in. It wasn’t how I raised her and it has gotten worse as she has gotten older.
October – A Priceless Experience
My daughter took me to see Justin Timberlake for my 51st birthday because she wanted to go. Nevertheless, It was (I think) the last time we spent time together where we both enjoyed the experience.
June – Things Remembered Fondly
My childhood, while abusive and traumatic, wasn’t all bad. In this essay, I remember the good parts, the parts that I enjoyed, the parts that almost seemed like we were “normal”, which of course, we were far from.
March – Life’s Disappointments
I wanted to be a mother because I (naively, in retrospect) wanted my very own person to love me. I loved being a mother, but becoming one was for the wrong reasons.
February – The Speech I Gave for My Daughter’s 21st
Self-explanatory. But what happened later that evening deserves its own post (which I must write, but it’s painful). In many ways, this night was the beginning of the end.
February – One of My Best Ever Achievements
In the lead-up to my daughter’s 21st birthday, I celebrate my role in her life and pat myself on the back for how I’ve raised her.
February – Survival Skills
This essay details how I survived an abusive and dysfunctional childhood. It’s an eternal mystery of the universe that I didn’t end up a drug addict or alcoholic.
January – Dear Me: A Letter to My 16 Year Old Self
I write a letter to myself and advise, among other things, not to get caught up in family stuff.
January – The True Story of Why I Changed My Name
I changed my name as a protest against my mother when my step-father died. It was clear that I wasn’t considered a part of the family, so I took legal steps to forge my own path – without the family name.
2013: As a mother
December – A Christmas Post
I enjoyed Christmas when I was single and childless because parties and drinking and men, but when I became a mother, the politics of my immediate family turned Christmas into a fraught experience for me. I made the best of it for my daughter, and tried to come to terms with it, but…
2009: As a mother
March – The Big One Six
Teaching my daughter to drive when she turned sixteen was not something that I wanted to do, but something that I had to do. In retrospect, I viewed the time we spent together as important, though, and was confident it was foundational.
Mother Daughter Relationship Quotes
Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution:
“Probably there is nothing in human nature more resonant with charges than the flow of energy between two biologically alike bodies, one of which has lain in amniotic bliss inside the other, one of which has labored to give birth to the other. The materials are here for the deepest mutuality and the most painful estrangement.”
Dr Annabelle RC:
“My mother belonged to that group of low IQ individuals who find everything alarming and believe that raising your voice is the most effective form of communication.”
Heather Gudenkauf, The Weight of Silence:
“Having a little girl has been like following an old treasure map with the important paths torn away.”
Anna Quindlen, One True Thing:
“When someone asks you where you come from, the answer is your mother…When your mother’s gone, you’ve lost your past. It’s so much more than love. Even when there’s no love, it’s so much more than anything else in your life. I did love my mother, but I didn’t know how much until she was gone.”
“Isn’t a daughter’s perspective on her mother’s life always a little myopic?”
“Her mother had said the words she longed to hear. Her mother could not get along without her. She felt warm, and safe and comforted.”
“If it is your fault that your mother is miserable, it becomes a potentially fixable affront. Taking blame means that at least the hope of love is still there–all you have to do is deserve it.”
“For Christmas I give my mother an uncomfortable truth. She wears it when I visit.”
Image credit: Pixabay