I have one of those difficult, complicated mother-daughter relationships with my mom. The kind of complicated relationship you read about in novels. The kind of complicated relationship you could picture as a storyline in a telenovela. The kind of complicated relationship that can be exhausting for both mother and daughter. The kind of relationship that I don’t want to have with either one of my daughters when they get older.
My daughters are young, 5 and 7 years old, and they do not have a complicated relationship with their abuela (my mother). The love between them flows easily without any of the resentment or bitterness that I seem to be unable to let go of. When they are together, which is only a few times a year, I see the way my mother loves my daughters and it makes me love her more. It makes me yearn to be loved that way by my mom, and it also makes me want to be a better daughter.
I have to do something about my relationship with my mother NOW because I don’t want my daughters to ever imagine having a complicated relationship with me—complex, yes; complicated, no. They don’t need to watch me bristle every time my mother offers an opinion. They don’t need to witness me tuning her out when she is telling me the same thing for the umpteenth time. That kind of teenage angst-ridden behavior that I revert to when my mother is around, will only come back to haunt me through my daughters some day if I don’t knock it out like ahorita mismo.
The problem is that I have been a difficult daughter for so long that it’s not easy for me to just change. Also, it does have to be me that changes, because how can I expect my mother to morph into the perfect version of what I want? It’s not fair and it’s not possible.
Lucky for me, being a mother to my daughters is teaching me how to be a better daughter.
3 Ways Being a Mother Is Teaching Me to Be a Better Daughter
1. Pick your battles.
This is excellent parenting advice and turns out it’s great advice in general. As a parent, you let the little things slide because it would be exhausting to fight every battle. If my child wants to wear mismatched socks, I let her. If she wants to put a razor blade in her mouth, well, then I step in because that is dangerous.
When it comes to my mother, thankfully she doesn’t want to put a razor blade in her mouth, but it certainly feels like her words can cut at times. Still, why has it become my mission in life to set her straight on every subject? She has managed to survive on her own devices this long, so as long as she is not really trying to hurt me or herself, I need to let things go.
2. Be compassionate.
I want my daughters to be compassionate people. I remind them that when someone is in pain, it’s kind to attend to the pain and the person in pain. I know compassionate people make for a better world and so I do my best to raise compassionate people.
When it comes to my mother, there are times I have so little compassion for her that it is downright chilling. I forget that she is not frozen in time. She’s not the mother I had when I was a child; just like I have gotten older, so has she. She is 70 years old. She deserves compassion, kindness and understanding from me.
3. Love no matter what.
I have made it very clear to my children that I love them no matter what. They know that even when I’m mad at them, I still love them. The love is always there.
The one thing that has never been complicated about my relationship with my mother is that I love her, and I know she loves me. The love really is always there and now thanks to my daughters, it is easier for me to remember and focus on the love underneath the sometimes complicated exterior.
I’m lucky that my daughters have such a loving grandmother. Even better: seeing my mother through their eyes has made me realize that it’s really not all that complicated.