I hit the jackpot when I got my daughter, Rachel. When I think about her and say her name I can’t help but smile and even laugh. This, now, 26-year-old has brought so much joy and laughter into my world. She is a tall, blonde haired, blue eyed beauty. She is strong-willed but teachable; she is creative, talented, smart and observant. She marches to the beat of her own drum. She doesn’t follow, she leads — forging her own path when necessary. She is one of the funniest people I know. She has my dream job, being a great photographer.
We recently had a lengthy conversation when I was out visiting that I believe will take us well into our oldest years and help keep us close. It was one of those days when I could tell we were both getting on each other’s nerves. You know how you just sense the tides have turned and the clouds are suddenly and quite unexpectedly rolling in? She gets solemn, impatient and snippy. I get more chatty, but then quickly get my feelings hurt and become silent — not a good combination for warm loving mother / daughter moments.
The hours and even a day passed with our being distant and way too polite. We finally circled around the issue like two tigers waiting to pounce. We circled and circled until I finally said, “I think you are mean to me.” She said, “ When I tell you something, you act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.” I said, “ You embarrass me in front of people.” She said, “You use a weird, polite voice when you are talking to certain people.” I said, “I feel like you treat me like I’m weird.” She said, You tell me the same thing a million times.” A long pause hangs thickly in the air. She said, “You think I’m mean?” I said, “Sometimes, to me.” She said, “When am I mean to you?” I said, “ When you say MOOOOM.” Then we were silent again. She starts editing pictures, and I start cleaning and organizing her house — which I know makes her crazy, cause she will ask me later in an accusing tone, “Where is my (whatever thing)? I put it right here.” I will say, “It is on your desk where it belongs!” “Everything has a place!” Rachel would agree and say, “Yes, its place is wherever I put it!”
This is one of the areas we have never seen eye-to-eye on, and has been a constant source of conflict from the time she was a toddler. I’d tell her to clean her room and she’d distract me with a clever funny story. I’d then agree to ‘help her’ clean her room, but I would look over and she was playing with Polly Pockets. I’d say, “Rachel that’s not cleaning, that’s playing.” She would laugh and tell me they were helping her clean, as she waddled over and sat in my lap with her friend Polly. I would smile, laugh and she was off the hook … we both ended up playing with Polly Pockets. Of course, our play looked different. My play was to sort and organize them into their correct homes while telling her, “See how happy they are when they each get to go home at night with their correct family.” She’d look at me and smile as if learning the concept of organization. I felt like I was really getting through to her. As I wrapped up my preschool level discourse on the virtues of living in a clean and organized environment, she said, “Yes Mommy, like Lance (Bubba).” With that she casually went back to her version of play with her little Polly Pockets, stuffed them randomly into a little sock, and threw it over her shoulder, laughed and toddled away. I laughed out loud and realized we are who we are from a very early age and I loved who she was. Being a mother is the absolute best and yet the most challenging job. Those two things occupy the same space. It’s a paradox, really. I wouldn’t trade one second from the instant I held that 8 pd 13 oz baby girl in my arms. She can reach in and pull out my heart, but she also is the one who makes my heart leap with joy and pride.
I wish I could go back and tell my Mom I’m sorry for the times I was so selfish and irritable toward her. The thing is, I know she knew. I watched her do the same thing to my grandma at times and it made me so mad at my mother. Why was I so unable to recognize that it was exactly the same way I was treating her then? My mom could drive me crazy over nothing, and her mom could drive her crazy over nothing, and I can drive my daughter crazy and she can drive me crazy…. The cycle goes on and on — but it doesn’t have to be a relationship killer. Don’t let it. We made a decision to not let it win. It’s hard sometimes, but it is always worth the effort.
I believe mothers and daughters have blind spots toward each other, but instead of politely acting like they don’t exist, Rachel and I decided we’d rather expose them and deal directly with the madness. I’m so glad we did because it has already made me a better person, although, Rachel will probably chime in about now and tell you, “She still has a long way to go!” and I would laugh and agree. I would then tell her that she does too! I know I don’t listen all the time, even when I give an answer! I’m glad she called me on it because it drives Bill crazy too. I told my family that they should just be glad that the reason I don’t know what’s going on is because I’m tuning them out (Better that than brain deterioration!). And we would both laugh together at the joy we share in our new found honesty. You can have a great relationship with your mom and your daughter if you both agree to humble yourselves and be honest. Rachel is one of the best young women I know, I’m so thankful she is not only my daughter, but my friend.
As my mom began to explain, we had a conversation recently that was awesome because we were talking about really serious things but also laughing as we talked about it. I think this can be the absolute best way to communicate sometimes. With any relationship there are going to be hard conversations and times that awkwardness ends up winning and the resolution of the disagreement or hurt feelings just has to take a backseat because we can’t figure out how to move forward.
Mom and I have had our fair share of these situations. All growing up, especially in high school, mom would do or say something that I wanted to poke fun at because, let’s be honest, she can be an easy target a lot of times (aren’t all moms?!), and I would more than likely take it too far. This usually happened around a group of my friends because I thought I was being funny and didn’t know when to stop. This is still something that is true of me, and now my dear husband is the one who has to tell me when to reel it back in. So, we would all be laughing, and in my mind I’m thinking mom is laughing too and can handle a few more jabs, when all of the sudden I’ve gone too far. I’ve said one too many jokes, corrected her three too many times and made her feel stupid in front of a group of people. I was still laughing and she was not. This would be the point where she would go to her room and lay down on her bed and wait for my apology. I would get mad because I thought we were just having a good time and I would just chalk it up to her being too sensitive. So, minutes or hours would go by until dad entered the scene. I can hear these words like it were yesterday, “Rachel…have you not lived with your mother for (fill in the blank) years? Do you not know by now how in the world to handle her?” I’d give some kind of eye-roll followed by a sigh, and then walk into her room with my head hung low.“Mooooooom…I’m sorry.” In a not-so sincere tone.
“No it’s not…you’re still mad.”
“No I’m not. I’m taking a rest.”
“Okay, so we’re good?”
“No, Rachel, you really hurt my feelings!”
“Okay! See, you’re mad! I’m sorry I don’t know why I do that. I thought we were just joking. I love you! You hate me?”
A small laugh followed by, “No of course I don’t hate you, I love you. But you need to stop showing off in front of you friends and hurting my feelings so much. This happens a lot when you’re around them and you need to remember who you are and that I am your mother.”
“I know. You’re the best.”
And then a hug. Resolved.
Maybe this is a familiar experience that you have had with your mother or daughter, or maybe we just never learn our lesson, but it seems like this conversation happens all too often. Even now, I am 26 and am now a mother to two and I am STILL having these apologies with my mom. Sometimes they’re more mature, but sometimes not. Mothers and daughters tend to revert back to the same relationship they had growing up and, even though we are better friends now, we’re still the same people with the same relationship. I think my mom is too sensitive and she thinks I am too mean.
We finally discussed this in the most open way possible and it was so positive. We laughed more than we cried, which is always a win. I had her give examples of how I’m too mean and I listened (and laughed) as she would prefer that I handle situations with more grace. I told her that she needs to start listening more so that there will be less material for me to make fun of her about! Haha! Kidding kidding. But we were truly able to tell each other the ways that we would prefer to be dealt with and, through laughter, we played out scenarios in which case we have failed big-time in these areas.
Mom said this to me while we were talking and it just was so simple but brought me this insight: “Moms are annoying. They just are.” HAHA! And it’s true! She told me things that her mom did that annoyed her and listed things that my grandmother’s mom did that irritated my grandma! She talked about how it’s just such an interesting relationship because you can absolutely love, idolize, and connect with your mother, almost more than anyone else, but yet want to scream in her face to “STOP SMACKING YOUR GUM LIKE THAT!” or, “IF I HEAR YOU TELL THAT SAME STORY ONE MORE TIME I’M PUSHING YOU OUT OF THE CAR!” Or my personal favorite, “YES I’M GOOD ON WHITE BLOUSES AND IF YOU BUY ME ONE MORE I’LL BURN IT IN THE FIRE!”
Okay, so maybe these aren’t the exact things you want to scream at your mom, but whatever they are, they are there and they’re real. Moms are annoying. They just are. But daughters are mean, and that is true too. I am not proud of this being my role, but I’m also not super excited about being the annoying mom either, and that’s coming at me all too fast. Daughters tend to not know when to stop, and are the absolute best at knowing exactly what it is that can get their mother’s blood boiling faster than anyone else. I can relate to this first of all as a daughter and knowing full well how many times I have hurt my mom’s feelings. But I am already seeing this come out in my two year old daughter toward me. There is no one in the world who can make me cry like Judeth, and then make me laugh through the tears that are being shed because she was giving me such a hard time in the first place. And I can remember my mom saying this exact thing about me my whole life.
A few nights ago Judeth was doing her normal dinner routine which is trying to get down, run around, give her food to Samuel, and asking for a “snack”. The thing that gets to me the most is her not eating the food that I have prepared for her. This is almost every night and, on this night, I had not been feeling well all day and I had just had it. I lost my temper with her and I took her plate away and, through a rush of tears, I yelled that I didn’t care if she ate anything! I then started to cry in the kitchen and before I knew it a tiny little pitter patter came running to my ankles. She looked up at me through the curls that constantly fall in her face and said, “Aww. Mommy cryin! It’s okay yittle mommy, I wight here.” And as she began to pat my legs. I leaned down and pulled her into my lap and I sat on the kitchen floor with my daughter crying and laughing at the same time.
Right then I had two thoughts: “How can someone so tiny make me so crazy and also fill my heart up more than anything else in the whole world?” And also, “Wow, Judeth is a lot like me!” From all of the stories I have heard about myself growing up and from the relationship I have with my mom, I can see myself in her so much. It is scary and funny at the same time. I felt thankful for my mom and for all she has done and will continue to do for me. I’m not just thankful for her because she raised me and put so much work and love into that … I am thankful now because I can see the smallest glimpse of what it was like. I already have so much love for my two kids that I almost can’t stand it. Some days I feel like my head is going to explode from how hard it is, but every day I feel like my heart is going to explode because I don’t know how else to express the way I love them. And I know that is how my mom feels about Lance and me. It’s amazing to get to see myself in the eyes of my daughter, as I am a daughter to my mom. But I can now see myself in the love, hard work, and caring nature of my mom now that I am called “mother.” So, whether we tend to be too mean or too sensitive or forgetful or nagging, let’s all have some grace for each other. Let’s celebrate our role as mother or daughter or both! Don’t forget who you are or where you came from, and remember to be genuine and real to one another. Laugh so that it’s less painful, and be truthful because you care deeply!
Well said Sis, I love you and am so glad it was you God gave me.
Sheri Langley and
Rachel Langley Maucieri