Delia’s Diary – Notes for the future, not the past
The mother/daughter relationship has always seemed secondary to the father/daughter, mother/son connection. After some introspection, however, I have realised how deeply intertwined we are with our mothers without even being aware of it. It’s a bond we easily take for granted.
Hindsight truly is 20/20. It was only upon becoming a mother myself that I became aware of my own mother’s influence on me. The very things she did that in my younger days I swore I wouldn’t do, for example the disciplinary actions and the like, became like second nature to me. Now, I understand my mother’s difficult, selfless decisions that were only for my benefit. The older I become the more I see my mother in me. In turn I see myself in my daughter.
Here are 10 notes from my diary, pertaining to the relationship with my mother, sisters and girlfriends, I’ve either read or experienced. The experiences have very much affected my past, present and I’m sure, my future – and I suspect have or will influence yours:
Do mothers expect more out of their daughters than their sons? Mothers often feel that their value is judged by how well their daughters turn out. In a sense, their daughter is a reflection of themselves. The bond between the oldest daughter and sister is generally stronger and as parents age, the care giving responsibility often falls to the oldest daughter as well – according to author and sociolinguist, Dr. Deborah Tannen.
You love her, sometimes you hate her. Sometimes she’s the last person you want to see. But she’s the first one you call for advice. That is the eternal seesaw of feelings between mothers and daughters – and sometimes sisters.
The Ultimate Sandwich period
This takes place during the Christmas holidays. If your mother, sister, daughter, granddaughter are in the same vicinity hallelujah! If not it can be absolute hell. The older your parents’ age you may hear, “This may be the last Christmas I have on this earth surely your children must understand you must spend Christmas with me!” And your daughter says, “You’re my mum and your grandchildren and I want you to spend Christmas with us. You had your childhood days to spend Christmas with your mum.
The more you talk to your sister; the closer you are.
When we tell people our sisters are our best friends have you thought where that comes from? Remember a little girl and her best friend spend a lot of time together talking; sharing most things and whether you see your best friend every day or once a year, the incessant talking created a bond. If you and your sister grew up talking, you grew up close so as adults your closeness is valued.
Mum fixes me up. I can’t leave the house if she doesn’t inspect me. I should revert to school days when I used to put a change of clothing in my backpack!
Mum hovers over the stove and tells me how to cook; even though she says she likes the way I make gravy; she’ll tell me how to cook it her way!
Why does mum always see me as a little girl? I’m 16 years old—surely I don’t need her to hold my hand while we cross the street. (my diary in the 70’s.) “I reached out and took my daughter’s hand to cross the road today. I held it tightly and as we ran across the road laughing, I felt ashamed of the thoughts I’d had when my mum had held my hands many years ago. My daughter is 27 now and she had such a huge contented grin on her face. I feel so bad I didn’t appreciate my mum’s love at the time. Next time I cross the road with my mum – I will tell her I’m still her little girl and ask her why doesn’t she hold out her hand to me?” (my diary 2009). We hold hands now and I smile.
My oldest sister is darker than me; my youngest sister is fairer than me. Why did I come out being an in between colour? Surely, as the eldest I should have been either the darkest or the lightest! (My diary, taken from a story written for school in 1972.)
Women are judged by how they look and mothers are judged by how their daughters look.
Mum: My Ultimate Mentor. (My diary, 1978)