The relationship between a mother and a daughter is the most complex and diverse relationship that there is. We carry our children within our bodies and feed them, in most cases exclusively, from moment one. Those primal exchanges carry a magnitude that leaves an undeniable imprint. If a mother is attuned and loving, her baby will be securely attached. We all know that feeling seen and heard is the bedrock of self-esteem. Conversely, if the mother is emotionally distant or with-holding, that attachment will be insecure.
I often think about the intensity and protectiveness of many mothers that I know, including myself. Now that I am a seasoned one, I think of these things even more deeply. While I want to fiercely, protect, shield and guide my daughters, I also recognize that my motives are quite often self-serving. Their hurts and insecurities are giant reminders of my own struggles as an awkward teen. I so want them to avoid every hurt I had, and steer clear of the potential struggles that I so clearly remember. In doing so, I over speak, over parent, overdo, over project, etc… I seem to forget that they are not the 14 year old me, but that they are individuals walking their own teenage path.
I am not saying that we as mothers should not guide our girls, I’m just suggesting that it’s a slippery slope. Sometimes we don’t always know better. Sometimes we jump in, out of our own discomfort, without allowing them the space to find their own way. Sometimes we make it more about us than them. Sometimes we confuse love with control. From the moment that my children were born, I was amazed at how much they knew instinctually. They could self-sooth by finding a thumb to suck on, hum to themselves, or balance like little yogis while they focused on their interest at the moment. I try to remember those amazing moments that I had nothing to do with, when I feel myself panic, as life dishes difficulty their way.
Trust. Trust in the love that they were born into. Trust in their growing wisdom in making healthy choices. Even trust in their ability to heal from difficulties. It’s not an easy job, this mothering thing, but most incredible things are not. Yes, the mother/daughter dance is a beautifully layered and complex one. My hope is to encourage my forgiveness for myself as I continue to learn what being a mother is, as well as to have more faith in the little women that I get to watch move into their own life experience, bumps and all.