Welcome to the new–or at least the resurrected–Mother U. It’s a site my daughter and I launched in 2003 when we both realized we were members of the “Motherhood Union.” Now that so many of my peers are on the Internet (and I’ve become accustomed to blogging), perhaps this blog will inspire comments and conversation between the generations. And what better time to launch than the day before our day, Mother’s Day. (If you’re curious about its origins, check out this video by Barbara Biziou, one of our visiting authors, who created a special ritual for The Buzz for mothers welcoming daughters into the club.)
Jen and I launched MotherU when her first son–my first grandchild–was born. Make no mistake: I was not initially in favor of grandmotherhood. I went kicking and screaming into the role, vowing that no one was going to call me “Grandma.” Thus, I’m “Minna” to my (now) three grandsons. No matter what I’m called, though, I’ve since come to see that it’s the best role in the world. It’s payback after years of (sorry, my children) thankless parenting. Well, not totally thankless, but it’s nothing compared to the truly unconditional love of a grandchild. But I digress….
The first time that your daughter really understands what you’ve been through is when she becomes a mother herself. Jen and I were always close, but something else kicked in when she became a mother. We also interviewed lots of mothers and daughters (check out Daughters Say/Mothers Say), and here are some of the things we found:
Mothers and daughters reach a different level of understanding when the daughter becomes a mother. One of the woman we interviewed looked at her mom in the delivery room and said, “I can’t believe you did this three times!” Granted, a daughter’s motherhood doesn’t automatically soothe bruised egos or erase past disagreements–so it isn’t necessarily a harmonious level of understanding–but there is usually some sort of shift when you both stand on common ground.
Mothers today have more in common than they once did. Jen and I coined the term generation overlap to describe this phenomenon. Of course, there are differences–just watch an older generation mother–a grandma–deal with a stroller or a car seat! But we older mothers have more in common, more lines of communication open with our daughters than we did with our own mothers. I hated shopping with my mother. We never went for manicures together. (In those days, it was the “beauty parlor”–and I hated it, maybe because that was where I had a “permanent” at age five, which meant having my head swathed in painful rollers, bathed in noxious-smelling potions and then being hooked up to a medieval machine to complete the process.) And we certainly didn’t do yoga or go to the gym together!
Out of sight is never out of mind. Many of us are separated by vast distances but we’re always in each other’s heads! I’m in Paris as I write this, far away from my daughter in distance, but always close emotionally. (Luckily, I can make calls free to the U. S. from here.) But no matter where we are, our relationship is perhaps the most powerful and nuanced of all family relationships. No surprise there: we’re women!
Mom continues to be the scapegoat. Family therapist and one of my favorite co-authors, Ron Taffel long ago told me, “It’s safe to argue with your mother because no matter what, she’s there for you.” We can be short with our mothers because we know they won’t abandon us. I cringe when I think of things I said to my own mother, when I was a young mother. Sadly, she died when I was 29. She was 63–younger than I am now. I took her for granted, resented her, and was often less than welcoming. Thankfully, even though Jen can be “sharp” with me at time, history is certainly not repeating itself. But it takes work on both our parts.
Perhaps Mother U can open new kinds of discussions between mothers and daughters. I welcome your comments and your ideas and hope that you’ll subscribe to this blog so that we can keep the conversation going.
Also, I hope that you’ll check out The Buzz — where other authors share their thoughts on motherhood and grandmotherhood.