One of the most insidious things adult daughters do is beat themselves up for not having a “great” relationship with their mothers (even if they are no longer alive). I put the word “great” in quotation marks because what “great” means to you, me, or the next woman might be different, but for the sake of this conversation, let’s say it looks like this:
Mom and daughter are close, warm, and supportive of each other. Daughter is able to lean on Mom. Mom loves daughter unconditionally. Daughter lovingly helps Mom out when she needs it. They have separate lives, but make it a point to get away together for “girl time,” to bond and strengthen their relationship. Daughter adores Mom and tells her friends how lucky she is to have her. Mom is proud of daughter and praises her to all her friends. They genuinely respect each other.
And if it doesn’t look like that (or whatever your version of “great” is), then it’s your fault, and as a result, you have a constant, low-level feeling of guilt because you haven’t been able to fix it by now.
I am here to witness you, represent you, and tell you:
That’s not the truth. There is nothing wrong with you.
It’s not your fault (in fact, let’s take fault off the table completely).
You are not to blame (blame too…let’s take it out of the equation).
You are not alone, and you don’t have to suffer.
Suffering is optional.
All mothers are not “loving” and buying into the idea that they are (so it must be your fault) only isolates you.
You don’t have to live the rest of your life feeling guilty.
Or sad (even though you might feel that way today).
There is no such thing as a perfect mother-daughter relationship.
No matter what Hallmark says.
No matter what you see on Facebook.
No matter what “they” say you “should” think/feel/do.
Mothers do not automatically and instinctually love their daughters unconditionally or otherwise (no matter how our culture portrays them) and it’s not taboo to acknowledge that. It’s important that we don’t assume all mothers love their daughters and that we don’t call something love when it isn’t love.
Fact is, daughters don’t automatically and instinctually love their mothers (although we can learn how to feel love for them on our own terms…for us).
Please do not shame or guilt yourself.
Please do not make yourself sad.
It’s not your responsibility to fix your relationship with your mother.
In fact, let’s take “fixing” off the table altogether, too.
You do not have to live your life for your mother.
You do not have to stop expressing yourself because she has told you she doesn’t like it when you do.
You do not have to blame yourself (or her) for what has happened in the past (although it is okay to acknowledge it).
You do not have to hide your light because you’re afraid she might feel threatened by it.
You do not have to feel “less than” because of what your mother has said or done (or modeled).
You do not have to beat yourself up, emotionally or otherwise.
You do not have to be boundary-less.
I am taking this stand for you.