I do realize this is probably a little boy in the pic, but it totally could have been me! …I was what they used to call a “tom-boy” in pre-feminism days…

The Mother/Daughter Dilemma

We all have those, don’t we?

I’ve been trying to bond with my mother these last couple of days, because I know that she is going through a hard time in her life (economically speaking), and things are going to get really tough this year, so I’m trying to make the best of it, while peace lasts (…we have our moments).

I shared my Positive Affirmations app with her on Monday, hoping it will help her start the day a little more centered and in control of her feelings. Yesterday, I helped her with her scanner/printer problem and was able to hack it (who’s yo’ mamma’?!); and today, we meditated together (just to help her get in the habit).

She is going to take me to run errands today, if it all works out — she likes taking care of her ducklings, and her ducklings are grateful for that. (FYI: I don’t have a car, and moving around in this city is no easy task if you don’t own one…)

I have also told her that I will start paying her a small monthly fee to help out with the house expenses cause I know she’s having trouble and I have to woman-up (pardon my feminism), cause I’m lucky enough to have her take me in during this phase of my life, and not have to pay for rent and utilities, until I get back on my two feet (…I am very grateful for that, too). I think I’m in a position now where I can help her with a little significant, monthly something.

I do realize I’m feeling naturally happier within and I have more patience with her, too.

This morning, though, I replied to her in a common, unkind way. Like, kind of annoyed, but I really wasn’t… it was out of habit! I mean, it is somewhat annoying that she doesn’t focus on what you’re telling her and then she asks 15+ questions, giving away that she has not paid attention to what you just said. And I find myself repeating the whole story, all over again, which I find draining (funnily enough, since I like to talk a lot and I do repeat myself sometimes naturally — don’t we all? But at least it’s when people are listening!). I think just talking for the sake of it, drains me…

Now, on the flip side of this, I have to admit, that even if she didn’t pay attention — or if she probably did, but didn’t get the story straight…or even worse, if I might have not communicated my thoughts correctly — , that I should be patient and courteous towards her, the same way I would be to a child, an elder or foreigner, or just any other soul who might not understand me — why is it so hard to have this patience with her only?

I think I am starting to embrace what is — at least now that we are ok and not really fighting…hope I can perfect this skill and grasp onto it! You see, that’s the way mom is…she’s not gonna change. She is the big-hearted, indecisive, unfocused, highly kinaesthetic soul that is desperately seeking for approval, happiness and love (and help with her decision-making…).

She’s been through a lot in life. She is a strong woman, a surviver — and I admire that. She’s also extremely sensitive, like a wounded child.

Although I do love her dearly, I’ve just realized I don’t really approve of her: they way she is, thinks, acts and how she handles things. Probably because there are a lot of annoying things (some would agree with me), but also because a lot of these annoying things are things I have learned from her, and I do myself…and I HATE! So I guess I project myself on her, and I get mad at her for being like I don’t want to be (make sense?).

Now, happiness…the thing with happiness, is that it really lies within you, so I can’t really help her on that. She does throw fits when things don’t go her way, or how she would like them, or dreams of them being. And she can get a bit disrespectful and scornfully abusive when she gets frustrated at you or at something. But I can’t just let myself be manipulated into that. I can’t be disrespectful and scornfully abusive to her in return. All I can do is accept her, exactly how she is, unconditionally. That’s the key word right there: unconditionally.

And I hope that my accepting of her, and my learning to cope with my feelings of annoyance, frustration or desperation (so that I don’t react to her), and basically owning my responsibility of how I let myself be affected by her actions and words, will help — if just a little — to make her happy.

If I show her my love through my acceptance of her (among other things I do as a good daughter), I’m pretty sure her perception of things, of us, of herself, will change at least a tad.

I’ve come to understand that the key here is to not care. Bear with me. The only way to love unconditionally is to not care. I don’t mean it in a careless way. I mean that, when you care about someone or something, you are affected by the outcome — what happens — because you care. Caring is a selfish thing, if you look at it closely. It matters to you, it affects you, that’s why you care.

On the other hand, when you love without caring — “I don’t really care what happens, I don’t care if you yell at me…it doesn’t affect me, go on, let it out, whatever is bothering you…I’ll be right here, I’m not going anywhere” — that is when you love unconditionally, no matter what. And that, I believe, is the definition of true love.

Now, I don’t mean you should take crap from anybody; that’s not the point here. Picture the love of a mother to her children: that is unconditional love. No matter what we do or how we are, mother’s will always love us. But you are probably thinking: “Oh, Erika…mothers DO care!”… yes they do…and that’s why they are affected by our every move, and they cry alone at night, crawled into a ball in their beds, when they haven’t heard from us in weeks.

The true way to love is to feel: “My child is busy living his/her life, he/she will call me when he/she gets a chance. I know he/she loves me dearly and I wish him/her well. I hope he/she has great stories to tell me when he/she calls!”, as opposed to: “My son/daughter has forgotten about me entirely. He/she is a selfish brat that doesn’t have the decency to pick up the phone for 5 mins and call his/her mother…the one who birthed him! Aaaaand stayed up countless nights trying to comfort his/her weeping soul. He/She neglects me, I am not important to him/her. I feel sad and lonely, because he/she doesn’t love me.”

Can you see where I’m going with this? This is a fairly new concept to me, too. It wasn’t until I started reading Byron Katie’s book “Loving What is”, that I began to understand this. And I still haven’t grasped it all! It’s taking me a while cause I want to thoroughly study this book, do the work (as she calls it) and embrace this concept in every aspect of my life.

When you love yourself enough to not care about how others can affect you (a.k.a. when you don’t care), is when you will love unconditionally. Problem is, we are all very vulnerable and have many fears, therefore we are deeply affected by everything around us that we care about! Got a lot of work to do…

So, back to my mom, I want to:

  • Thank her for the good things I got from her (her strength, her energy, her drive, her smile, her love, her good will, her ability to see the good in everyone, her always-helping hand), and for being my own magnifying glass.
  • Thank her for all she does for me, for taking me in, for worrying about me, for being there, for taking care of me, for taking me to run my errands.
  • Understand that I am not her, and she is not me. That I am different, therefore I don’t have to get upset at her for being as I don’t want myself to be (still make sense?)
  • Also, being a different person, I should act differently and not mimic her actions — the negative ones at least… kinda hard, having a strong mirror neuron system.

I really hope that this period that lays before us will be of personal growth and that I can be the patient, kind, loving and supportive daughter my mother needs me to be.

I don’t mean to offend my mother, nor any other mother who reads this, nor anybody who has lost their mother and misses her dearly — contrary to what it might seem, I am not insensitive. These words are my sincere thoughts and concerns, searching for a way to understand this whole mother/daughter relationship thing. Because, one day, I want to be a good mother to my daughter, and I realize that for that I have to learn to be a good daughter first.

All this said, I do love you, mom.

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