“I used to do as I was told (well most of the time) […] but now that I’m all grown up, married and with children… I just don’t know how to be a good daughter anymore.”
This is what I told my friend on the phone as we were catching up and talking about family. It was “easy” to please my mom as a little girl, and even while growing up as I went through high school and college. Things were simple and I just went along, most of the time, as my parents wanted me to. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some arguments and me pushing boundaries and getting into trouble. But that’s just it, once you get married, those boundaries of what you’re expected to do as a daughter should change and go away. Right?
For me, they’re kind of still there and it causes some friction and resentment. So much so that it ended up in a big disagreement/discussion to which my dear mother took personal, was offended, cried, and told me that all she could do was her best.
My issue was that many things either disappointed her or she would talk to me like I was 8. As much as she was trying to help me, it was just annoying me. Her questions and commands irritated the crap out of me and I didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to be respectful but also stand up for myself as a woman, as a married woman with children.
Instead, I bit my tongue and would walk away. That wasn’t good either.
Then came unwanted opinions and suggestions or comparisons on how they do things at home, how they tidy up at home, the food they eat at home, etc., and how I was doing things so different than what I was raised to do. I felt like crap! The comparisons would continue regarding my children and how they are so different than my brother and me when we were their ages, or how they would never allow that with us.
So I one day let it all out after being approached by my mom with this question/statement: “Is something wrong? Your dad and I feel that you’ve been so cold towards us and so distant since we’ve come to visit you guys. You’re making us feel unwelcome and like we’re in your way. We’ve done nothing but help you and the kids and your husband, too.”
Well, that opened up a can of worms! The truth? I didn’t know how to behave or respond any more as their grown-up daughter.
In summary, these were my points:
- Please stop treating me like a child. I’m 38 now, and yes, I’ll always be your daughter, but I’m not a kid and I’m not a teenager.
- Stop trying to correct me or saying you and dad never hit us. You did with your hands, with the belt, with the spoon, with your slippers, and you would pull our hair, too! Do I feel abused? Not even close! But you make me feel like I’m lying and I’m not.
- Yes, my kids act differently and behave differently compared to my brother and me because they are. One, I’m 4 years old than my brother. Two, I was in school by the time my brother came along. My kids are 16 months apart. Three, they’re their own people.
- Yes, the way we live is different because we’re different. We have a different home, we have more things, and we believe in slightly different things.
It was a lot and my mom cried a lot. Many times I was told “that’s not how it happened” or “don’t exaggerate.” In the end, my mom apologized and said she was only ever doing her best even though it may not have been. I told her the same. I’m always doing my best even if my best isn’t good enough for her. It was rough but it needed to happen.
We’re not best friends again yet, but we’re doing MUCH better. The relationship has finally transitioned. I have another friend who pointed out that my parents live so far away and out of my life, that they’re trying to see and find ways that they still fit in and be needed. They’re still trying to figure it out, too. That was helpful and a perspective I had not thought about.
Being a good daughter changes as you age and go through life. I always want to be a loving daughter but couldn’t because I felt like I couldn’t talk to my mom. I love my mom tremendously and am very thankful for everything they did and continue to do for us. It was just a rough patch and we’re still trying to grow… just like any other relationship.