By: Shannon Ralph
“Probably there is nothing in human nature more resonant with charges than the flow of energy between two biologically alike bodies, one of which has lain in amniotic bliss inside the other, one of which has labored to give birth to the other. The materials are here for the deepest mutuality and the most painful estrangement.” –Adrienne Rich
I am not sure that I have ever read anything that better sums up the complexities of the mother/daughter relationship than the above quote by Adrienne Rich. Deep mutuality and painful estrangement. I experience both of these on an almost daily basis with my young daughter.
I have three children. My oldest son is 12 years old. My twins—a boy and a girl—are 8 years old. Like every parent, I love all three of my children equally. I adore my two boys with every fiber of my being. I love my older son’s humor. His zest for life. I love my younger’s sons sweetness. His unabashed affection. They are my heart and my soul. They are my joy.
But I would be lying if I said my relationship with my sons was the same as my relationship with my daughter—the little girl who is like me in so many wondrous and horrible ways. The boys are easier. Our relationship is calm. Steady. My relationship with my daughter—who is only eight years old and has not even entered the tumultuous throws of adolescence yet—is a roller coaster ride.
Like a roller coaster, it is thrilling. Exciting. It makes me laugh out loud and swell with delight. When it is good—when we are in mutuality mode—it is quintessential joy. In the same way, it can make me cringe. It causes me to daily throw my hands up in the air and scream. Like a roller coaster, it makes my stomach drop and panic creep into my chest. When it is bad—when estrangement creeps in—it is hell on earth.
Unlike a roller coaster, however, the mother/daughter relationship is a ride that never ends.
My daughter and I have a long road ahead of us. We are so alike that I often feel like I am at war with myself. That any conflict between us in a conflict within us. So before the war starts in earnest—as my daughter enters tweendom and then teendom—there are things I want to tell her. There are things I want her to understand.
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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