Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mothers and Daughters

As much time as we spent hoping, for various reasons, that this baby would be a girl, there were a few things that I either brushed over or avoided thinking about altogether. The first of these was that, when it was all said and done, I would be someone's mother. This made my eyes cross when I thought about it too much. Being a mother meant something very different from having a baby. Being a mother meant sitting up nights with a sick, unhappy child; it meant nagging about homework and chores; it meant school activities and decisions about colleges and wondering if your twentysomething child will ever find their place in this world. I am well into my twenties and my mom is still my mother; it's not something that ended when I was born or got my two-year molars or learned to tie my shoes. My brain would whirr and click like a confused computer when I tried to grasp all this. When I was a kid in Sunday school, our teachers told us that God is infinite, and the human mind is too puny to grasp the true concept of infinity. At seven, I had no problem with infinity. Goes on forever? Check. God is everything, everywhere, all the time, this time and all times before and after? Not a problem. Turns out it was the thought of being someone's mother that caused my brain to grind to a screeching halt.

The other thing that was difficult for me to think about was being the mother of a daughter. My own relationship with my mother has always been a difficult one; we were frequently like those huge fighting elk and goats you see on Wild Kingdom: bashing heads, locking horns, each trying to drive the other into submission, until we let go, circled 'round and did it again. My dad frequently had to seperate us and send us to opposite corners of the house. The dishes not being done properly or speedily, my choice of friends, the way I dressed, my choice of college major, the boyfriends I chose, the jobs I applied for, my choice of wedding invitations - anything was cause for a fight. The fights didn't stop as I grew older. If anything, they grew more intense because the issues had been building up for so long. Once I was old enough, I learned to just pack up my car and move out of town to end a fight, because I had lost all hope of ever forming a truce.

When I found out that I would be the mother of a daughter, I thought of all those fights. I wondered if one day thirteen or fourteen years from now, this child and I will scream at each other across a kitchen and my husband will have to step in and send us to our rooms. I can only hope not, I can only strive to parent in a different way than my mother did and try to avoid the same pitfalls. And who knows? Maybe I'll learn something along the way. Maybe I'll finally be able to admit out loud to my mother that yes, she was right, when you are a teenager, dating someone four years your senior with no job and no permanent address is not the best idea.


Whitney said...

There's a very interesting book on this topic called "You're Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation" Check it out.

(Our girls must be due at the same time because our ultrasounds and quickening line up pretty exactly. I'm 07/07/07.)

Weetzie said...

I've seen that book and wondered if it was any good. I'll have to check it out. You're having a girl too? Congratulations! I'm due 5/24/07.