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Mothers and Daughters

“So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too.”

“Daughters,” By John Mayer

I’m going to be 39 in a week. But my parents have been here all weekend and I feel like I’m 9 all over again.

My dad is cool—he’s going to be 80 in a couple of months, and he’s probably the hippest, most-well read, well-traveled septegenarian around. He doesn’t get all up in my kitchen about things, but he’s there to listen and offer advice if I need it. If I ASK for it.

My mom and I have a slightly more complicated relationship—as most mothers and daughters do. Growing up, she’d go though my room to see what she could find to make sure I wasn’t getting into trouble. She really did miss her calling—she should have been a cop the way she could toss my room. She’d find and read notes to and from friends, she’d go through drawers looking for cigarettes (Ha! I hid those in a stuffed animal that I partially gutted and closed with a safety pin. The unused 8-track player was another great hiding place for smokes!) My room was fair game. It was like living under Communist rule. I know she meant well—she wanted to make sure I was safe and staying out of trouble, but it didn’t exactly foster a lot of trust.

However, when I did get into some trouble, she was the first person I turned to. She was there for me, she was completely supportive, and oddly never said, “I told you so.” And she didn’t tell my dad about everything. So…complicated, right?

By the time I had graduated from college we had developed a pretty good relationship. I wouldn’t say it was like having a good girlfriend, but it was definitely more open. We could talk about anything and there was a lot of trust.

But over the years, my mom has started to regress a bit. I think as she gets older (she’ll be 76 this year), she gets more protective, and she’s holding on tighter. So it’s like I’m 9 all over again.

My mom and dad spent the weekend here to celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary (an impressive feat!) and my birthday. But all weekend long she’s had wild and varied opinions about everything. We’re in the middle of some renovations and she has second-guessed everything we’ve done and everything thing we’re about to start (never mind that we’ve planned some of this since we moved in 9 years ago). She has commented on my cooking, my house cleaning, my marriage and the fact that she doesn’t think I’m a very good wife. She has nagged me on just about any topic you can think of. She does, however, think I take good care of my teeth. That’s something, I guess.

I realize 55 years is nothing to sneeze at and some of her advice is valuable, but life is very different now than theirs was when they got married. My workday is just as long—and sometimes longer—than my husband’s. I’m not home by 5:30 every night ready to make dinner for my man. During certain times of the year, I’m lucky to get home by 10:00 p.m. By that point? Dinner will be breakfast. She also doesn’t understand why I don’t glue myself to Bill 24/7, never mind the fact that she and my dad snipe at each other constantly because they do almost everything together. If Bill wants to go out with some friends? Great. I can control the remote, read a book and maybe take a long, hot bubble bath. And it means I can go out with my friends when I feel like it and don’t have to ask permission or feel bad about leaving Bill home. Dinnerless.

And she still goes through my stuff. She was clearing off the dining room table for breakfast this morning and started flipping through the mail. My mail. “What’s this? Oh, I didn’t know you had a credit card from them. How many credit cards do you have? You know, you really should save your money instead of spending so much.” Sigh. Thirty minutes of that from one freakin’ envelope. It’s exhausting.

And it’s frustrating. I try to be patient because I know they won’t be around forever. My husband lost both of his parents in the past few years and I know it’s going to be devastating when it happens to me. But in the meantime, I feel the need to draw the line. My mom was nagging me incessantly about something when we were in the car today and I started to open my mouth, and Bill just grabbed my hand to keep me from going off. I did say something, but my tone was softer and my message less harsh.

Sometimes I feel like the older I get the younger I get in my mother’s eyes. Do the apron strings ever get cut?

Do you ever stop being your mother’s daughter?


5 Responses

  1. Simple answer? No.

    My mother and I have a very complicated relationship too. The last time we talked, she phoned me, proceeded to dump on me for about 10 minutes and then hung up. I then proceeded to throw up and cry for two hours.

    And yet, nobody builds me or has my back like my mom either.

    Strange creatures, those.

  2. Oops, meant to say ‘builds me UP’. Dang, the early morning hours. 🙂

  3. I love this post! This now may be one of my favorites of yours…despite the fact that it includes…{small gagging sound}….lyrics by John Mayer.

    But I agree with Debra….you’re always going to be your mother’s daughter. We’re always going to hear our mom’s voice in our heads…even when she’s not here anymore. And what seems like a colossal pain in the ass now will someday be the one thing you’ll wish more than anything you could have back. At least just once.

    I’m fairly blessed in that my mom is pretty much a rock star 99% of the time. And I do know that your mom is just trying her hardest in her own way to love the hell out of you. Because she does. She just doesn’t always express it completely ideally!!

    By the way: I am just dying over here at the image of poor, pitiful, dejected and dinnerless Bill. Because yes. Bill is just sooooooo helpless. Ahem.

  4. There’s a book written by Christiane Northrup called Mothers and Daughters. I think it should be required reading for all parents and children. It’s amazing. Trust me.

  5. really? john mayer? ick!

    moms and daughters – i heard a comedian once say that “of course moms know which buttons to push… THEY INSTALLED THEM”!!

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