>My daughter is nearly 26 years old … though to me she still is a pre-teenager, sometimes a baby and sometimes a grown woman. One would say, what is new, all mothers would say the same thing about their daughters? That’s true, and I would not disagree! The point of mentioning her age here is that I gave birth to her on my 26th birthday and if I look back, I certainly did not think of myself as a young person, nor did I have anyone doting on me like I dote on her. This however, does not deter me from trying to control her life at times, albeit unsuccessfully and is met with grave resistance from the other side!
That said, there was an interesting mix of tele-con and txt that happened between us this evening. Since she lives in Delhi pursuing her higher studies, our connecting mediums are mostly the mobile phone and occasionally the internet and often the distance created by such mediums are difficult to manage, specially in awkward moments.
Anyway, to come back to the point of discussion – She is supposed to submit her dissertation by a certain date this month and my understanding was that only after that can she come home. Therefore, when I called her this evening to enquire the progress obviously due to my vested interest, she responded quite gallantly that she may not even finish the paper before she came and that she has organised herself accordingly. My response to that one was one of “what are you saying, isn’t this why you postponed your trip home? And now you would not even finish that, etc, etc” I guess my tone of voice touched a higher pitch bordering on panic and irritation which said “how can you be so irresponsible?” without actually saying it! My daughter responded exactly as expected, with counter irritation and annoyance and advised me to not think too much about things and that she would manage what belonged to her. “Fair enough”, I thought, but some small voices were still screaming inside my head, conjuring up images of my daughter standing in a school dress being scolded by her stern teachers for not finishing her homework on time (which actually never happened during her school days – She was a straight A student), etc, etc. I mumbled something about her dinner and then, there was silence …absolute silence … neither of us had anything to say to each other … After a while, I mumbled some other inanities and disconnected the phone and started wondering what just happened.
After a while, I received a txt from her apologising for “snapping” at me and how she ought to learn to control her temper, etc and how much she loved me. I felt very good that she wrote that but also felt a little guilty about making her feel bad about herself. This was not the first time that things like this happened between us, but every time this happens, I ask myself what could I have done differently. I am sure, she asks herself the same question every time.
The whole relationship between mothers and daughters are so very different from the relationship between fathers and daughters. I am of course generalising here and looking at my life history and comparing the two. For me it is easier to compare as I grew up only with my father around and no mother, and in my daughter’s case, her bonding has been stronger with me than her father especially since she stepped into her pre-teen period.
I guess daughters find it difficult to move away from their mothers even in their moments of deep anguish as being members of the same gendered world may make it quite difficult to not empathise with the other. As for mothers, apart from responsibility weighing heavy on their shoulders, both affection and anxiety mixed with “I know her more than she knows herself” would make it difficult to just let the daughter go on her own adventure of life.
If I look at my daughter, I think that she looks at me both as a hero for the courage, hard work, grit and competence as well as perhaps the only person who she believes would love her unconditionally no matter what, the only person with whom she finds a sense of “home”. On the other hand, I can also see how she at the same time looks at me with slight doubt, irritation and anxiety of “she just might lose her marbles if she is not all put together the way she ought to be”. And the swing of this pendulum is what makes our relationship very interesting.
Therefore on one hand I try hard to be put together (and not be my “mad mad” self) and make things worse as she can be friends with the “mad mad” self only and not the “sane” mother and yet when we are friends, I am continuously wondering whether there is a line that we ought to draw and go back to being parent and child and I can never really figure that one out.
We are great friends at one level, there are very few secrets between us, except may be what we intensely dislike about each other but that too comes out quite freely on our moments of anger and outbursts (we both have mastered the arts for that one). On the other hand, there are moments when I need to put on my Mommy face and be there for her especially when she is intensely unhappy and tensed with herself.
Having had almost zero experience of being mothered, I sometimes desperately search for a role model to emulate and at other times accept quite sagaciously to myself that I need to make this role and if I have not yet in 26 odd years, then I may never do it and why bother, etc, etc. My daughter on the other hand, believes in post modern thoughts and being a thinker and a feminist, her logic is “you are what you are and there is no point of comparing oneself to any parameters since all parameters would stink of one dated politics or the other”. Fair enough … I think, suitably chastised like a good student, this is where I learn from her. But, but, but ….. what about her expectation of being mothered? Am I being a good mother to her at all times when she needs me to be there? Am I? And when I look at the good mommies around me who are trotting around like proud mother hens, talking about or fixing marriages, buying jewelleries and “securing” the future of their daughters, I seem to be like a crane sitting among proverbial swans wondering “how come those are not my priorities”? The only priority I can think of is what would make her life meaningful and what would make her content and I seem to be going by whatever choices she is making for herself as of now. Is that necessarily good or necessarily bad, or is there something in between? I wish there was a mommy somewhere for me to answer all these complicated questions!
I know if my daughter reads this post, she will laugh and then will tell me “again you are thinking rubbish thoughts !!!” But I guess I would never really know. Does any mother ever know?