Home > grandmothers, sleep deprivation > Mothers and daughters

Mothers and daughters

I wanted a son. Why? Because I find the mother-daughter relationship fraught. That’s in large part because my relationship with my mother is … fraught. I have a lot of theories on why, exactly, and I’ll talk about those some day.

But this weekend, I had a mini confrontation with my mother that almost exactly sums up  what’s wrong with our relationship. The Husband had surgery a week ago today so his mother and sister came up on Saturday to help me out and then my parents came up on Sunday, in theory, to help me out. And I needed the help after a week of being at home in the stinking heat, dealing with a fussy baby and an injured husband.

My in laws were helpful — they did laundry, took care of The Child, let me go see a movie. My folks were present mostly to spend time with The Child. To be fair, my dad did help out and hauled laundry for me.

Anyway, towards the end of their visit, The Child walked up to me and slung a book, backhanded, into my face. It ricocheted off my glasses, whacking my nose hard enough to make my eyes water and send shooting pains through my nose. “OW!” I clapped my hands to my nose, wondering if it was bleeding.

“Amanda! Must you be so loud?” my mother snapped, before the echoes of my shout died down. “Honestly!”

“You get hit in the face and see if you aren’t loud!” I shouted back at her, still checking to see if I was bleeding. “I mean, seriously!” And I side-armed a  tennis ball across the room.

That was the end of the pleasant visit. It was all compressed lips and clipped words after that. Probably I should have apologized for raising my voice to her, but frankly I was still pissed off at her. I managed to not be clipped and disapproving, but I wasn’t going to say it was all my fault.

And that, in a nutshell, is my relationship with my mother:

  1. I have a reaction to something.
  2. My mother disapproves of how I reacted to it.
  3. I feel a chord of emotions: a. stung, because no matter how old you get, you get stung when your mother tells you that you’re doing something wrong. b. pissed because she yelled at me instead offering some level of sympathy or affection or… anything. and finally, c. exhausted because this is the four millionth time we’ve done this dance.
  4. And we spend a lot more time being cold, passive, and pissy at each other.

The only thing that was missing was my mother blaming me for whatever I was reacting against. (For instance, I get towed because no one bothered to tell me you can’t park for 48 hours on the same spot and my mother’s only comment: “You need to be more careful and look up the laws when you move into a town.”)

This is how it’s been for years — ever since I got engaged. I’m exhausted by it. And angry. But The Child did not sleep last night so mostly I’m exhausted. And I don’t know what to do.

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  1. July 31, 2007 at 1:29 am

    Be glad you can vent about your Mom on your blog, though. My mom reads mine, so I can never say some of the things I want to say for fear of hurting her feelings.
    Have you read “Reviving Ophelia?” It’s a great book on raising daughters. Check it out.

  2. July 31, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    Wow. I love the name of your blog. And you took The Word right out of my mouth: Fraught. I’m trying to write about the mother/daughter relationship after over 60 years of it.

    So, you had a girl after all? Good luck! I too have a girl; she’s going to be 40 this month.

    I hope you write about the reasons you think this relationship is so hard, I’d love to hear them.

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