Mothers and Daughters


A Few Disorderly Thoughts From A Daughter Who Became A Mother
What are “the ties that bind,” what forms the substance of the invisible umbilical cord that flows between a mother and daughter? What joins us together even when we’re apart? Why does my daughter’s heartache bruise my heart, why do I feel her pain, how do I know before she even tells me?
A mother loves her son, but she knows from the day he’s born that he’ll only let her nurture him, hug and kiss him, until he starts to become a man. His first day of school, he tells her, “Don’t walk me up to the door Mom, I don’t want the kids to see me with my mother, they’ll laugh at me.” And this is kindergarten! She walks home in tears; he has begun to cut the cord. It hurts, but she realizes that he only wants to grow up and be “a man.” I think boys possess the urge to be “a man” the day they’re born. Women know the rules. We let our boys cut the cord; pull away, be tough, be strong. We let their fathers tell them, “Don’t cry when you fall down; don’t be a mama’s boy.” As soon as he can walk he’s warned by the grown men in his life, “Don’t be a sissy.”
So why do daughters stay bound to their mothers, strengthening the connection developed in the womb?
I was thirty-eight years old when I drove to my mother’s house one night, at three in the morning. I could barely see the highway through my tears. Exhausted and grieving, I collapsed on her porch. I made it! I was safe! Why did I feel better just because I was close to her, before she even opened the door? She tucked me into her bed as I sobbed and she said, “Honey, I feel your pain.” I knew she was telling me the truth because I could see my agony reflected in her eyes. “Just go to sleep,” she said firmly. “Everything will look better when you wake up; you’re just exhausted right now.” Then she went out to sleep on the old sofa in the living room. I closed my eyes and I felt the weight on my aching heart lift; my mother was taking care of me. I slept like a baby. Why? Nothing had changed, my mother couldn’t fix the situation that had traumatized me, why did I feel better? When I awoke the next morning I could hear her tiptoeing around because she was trying to let me sleep late. I could smell the Folgers* brewing in the pot and her love and concern covered me like an electric blanket. She smiled as I staggered into the kitchen. She handed me a cup of hot, fresh coffee. “Sit down, sit down,” she said, as she rushed to get the milk out of the fridge.
My cigarettes and lighter were placed in my hands before I even hit the chair. As I drank my coffee, she bustled around her tiny kitchen making crepes. “Oh, shoot,” she exclaimed as they cooked too fast. “I have the heat up to high; I’m out of practice.” We ate the almost burnt crepes with butter and sugar and the taste of childhood returned to my tongue.
Thomas Wolfe once wrote “You can’t go home.” I guess that means that once you’ve grown up, you have to stay that way. However, you can always go home for a visit or have your mom visit you. You can be a little girl for a few hours. Your mother will always find the spot that hurts and put her love around it. Then you part, feeling strong enough to walk away from her protection and you can let the world back into your life.
I don’t always take my mother’s advice, but I always accept her gift of love. Unconditional love. All I have to do to earn it is be who I am. Her daughter. I try to show my gratitude and let her know how I much I appreciate her love and support. I didn’t understand how much of herself she gave to me until I had children of my own.
During the birth of my first child, I begged the nurses to go find my mother. I wanted to tell her that I was sorry for every unkind word that I had ever spoken to her. (And I didn’t even know that the birth of my baby was the easiest task of motherhood!) On that day my mother became a different person in my eyes. A daughter never knows the full extent of her mother’s love until she holds her own baby in her arms.
She will even forgive all of her mother’s mistakes, when her own first child is born.
The ties that bind are stretched to a thin strand with sons; boys learn young to reject emotional intimacy. Meanwhile, mothers and daughters strengthen the invisible bond; they never cut the ties that bind, not even if they trip over them and fall down a flight of stairs. I’ve tripped my own daughters, without meaning to. The fall was just as painful as if I had deliberately tripped them!
We leave our husbands when they hurt us or hurt our children, (unless we’re codependent, then we go for counseling for ten years and try to figure out what we did wrong) and although husbands can be replaced, the tie between mother and child is forever. Even when it hurts. When my mother felt overwhelmed by my behavior she’d remind me, “I don’t always like you, but I always love you.”
One of the greatest tragedies a woman could ever experience would be the loss of her child or her mother.
One last thought: mother-in-law jokes abound, but why did they become so popular? Are they a true picture of his mother-in-law or are they the sarcasm of an insecure man? When a mother-in-law is resented, not for what she does, but for who she is, maybe it’s because a husband feels threatened by the unbreakable bond that connects her to his wife. He is never sure of his position between mother and daughter. Even worse, a man will sometimes be jealous of the emotional bond between his wife and their child. Perhaps from his point of view, he has reason to be concerned. After all, a woman often divorces her husband, but she almost never banishes her mother or her children from her life.

5 thoughts on “Mothers and Daughters”

  1. This is beautiful! You are right why is that bond so strong. Isn’t that amazing? Even though my mom and I don’t talk much I can still feel her there and I know that if anything too terrible happened she would be there. Something about that bond. I agree with you for sure on this. Of course you are always there for your babies and their babies. It just keeps going doesn’t it? Something about that is like a mystery and a miracle at the same time, to me. I love your writing! The way your express yourself all the little pearls of wisdom tucked way in your words. So poetic and graceful. Those two words do not express how I really feel but they will have to do for now. I love you! 🙂


    1. Wow. My writing sounds so much better when I see it though your eyes.I am on my phone and not doing so great with replies. Half have not gone through. So thank you for your support and prayers. I really could feel you with me in spirit today. Thank you for the pricceless posts you made me too! Love you, jm


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