Mothers & Daughters: Karma’s A Bitch


Senior portrait, 1981 I was all about matching sweaters and keeping my nose out of trouble!

I had it coming. While I was, for the most part, an easy kid– my mother would tell you that, if she were alive, I also gave her some challenges that I now can see were much harder to get past than I understood at the time. I am the eldest of three kids. Our mother raised us on her own, after my father’s death at 32. She was a widow at 29, with three children under the age of ten. The weight of that was hard to appreciate, as that ten year-old child. I instantly became her co-parent, and mostly I resented that. I was a kid, and I didn’t get why I couldn’t just be one. I learned early not to make things harder: I got good grades; I helped clean the house and care for my two younger siblings; teachers liked me, and I didn’t give my mother much cause to worry. That was my brother’s job.

However, as I entered young adulthood, and broke free of the parental role my mother and I shared, I distanced myself from Mom. I wanted to be different from her in just about every way conceivable. She smoked; I had utter disdain for smokers and the smell of cigarette smoke triggered asthma attacks. She wanted nice things; I found that materialistic. She was very focused on appearance; weight was especially important to her. I got an eating disorder and waited for her to see that there really was “too skinny.” It didn’t happen. I’m not sure she ever knew about my struggles with body image, but she thought I looked great when I was ninety-eight pounds and I was both skipping meals and vomiting. I wanted to see myself as totally different than my mother, because I disapproved of most of her life choices, and I felt cheated by her, out of so many things. At the time, a lot of that wasn’t even conscious on my part. Hindsight is much harder in youth.

If this sounds like lots of other mothers and daughters, give or take some details, I believe it is. Not all relationships are filled with issues or challenges, but few are pain free. This is not limited to mothers and daughters. I’ve seen that my sons, not just my daughter, have their own issues to throw my way, just as I challenge them. But when it comes to issues and relationships fraught with tangled drama, there is little that compares to mothers and daughters. It makes sense. While many would agree that men do plenty to complicate and challenge the lives of women, I would argue that women are infinitely harder on other women than anyone else. What do daughters become? Other women. However, it’s so much more personal with our daughters. And therein is the slippery slope that collides with karma.

This little girl lit my world on fire! (1991)

Our adorable little girls, who charm and nudge us with their sweet little girlness: their fire and spunk, their unabashed curiosity, their feminine wiles, charm and fierceness– all of the magical elements that define them as little girls– those incredible little females grow up to be women. As mothers, the very same little girls who we love and wrap our hearts around, can challenge us in the most maddening ways!

When my daughter was little, we joked that she came out of the 14-inch incision in my belly, marching to her own drum. She was independent before the staples were removed, and the scar that has faded to a fine, white line is a constant reminder that she has etched herself on my entire being. It started with her first ferocious cry, and continues now that she is a mother herself. No matter how hard we try to keep the boundaries clear, it’s hard not to be engulfed in the drama of raising our children. As we strive to raise strong, independent girls, who will be strong, independent women, it’s hard not to feel the pull of our own her-stories.

Doc - Mar 12, 2016, 9-40 AM (1)

She marched to her own beat from the time she could pack a bag and go!

It’s not easy being a woman in this world, and despite countless moments of exasperation, I was proud that my daughter was strong-willed from the start. I knew that she would stand firm in the face of adversity, and she has. As she got older and that iron-will was launched against me, I tried to remind myself that I wanted this. I wanted her to speak her mind; I wanted her to resist the pressures to be demure and hold her tongue. Like so many parents, I told her how to avoid being a victim of violence-“Fight! Make noise! Don’t let yourself be fooled by puppies and strangers who are lost–” a metaphor for life. I told her to not to let her dreams come second unless the compromise was one that she believed in. Don’t chase love; seek your passions; be yourself; these are lessons I fed her, wishing I’d done more of those things myself. Don’t make the mistakes I did…Was my silent wish.

It’s hard not to parent with echoes of our own pasts in our heads. I saw my daughter’s path as one more leap removed from the one my own mother took, each of us running the ball further down the field. My daughter would be educated and independent. She would fall in love one day, but not chase a relationship, in the hope of completing herself. I tried not to focus too much on her physical appearance, but encouraged her intellect and fire. I learned that that gets harder when you’re entering middle age and your girl is moving toward her peak. Admittedly, there were days when her youthful body seemed to mock my aging everything. My knees hurt, while hers sprung at the volleyball net, and ran for miles cross-country. The redistribution of weight on my body was chastised by the way clothes complimented every curve and angle on her. And let me be clear here: her size and shape is of little importance, in the bigger picture of my love. As my daughter, I’ve always seen her inner sparkle; her beauty was never based in her figure, her hair, or her features. But there are challenges to face, in raising a young woman, as you watch your own youth fading. To watch the endless possibilities that lay in front of her, as mine dwindle, challenges me to let her seek her own path, and not shield her from the things I wish I’d known, or done differently, or wish I could do again.

Scan 1 - Version 3
Oh, to have these sweet days again, when my girl was a girl, and I could still hold her!

In recent years, all of this has come rushing toward me, and despite all the ways I wanted to be different than my own mother, I can now see the things that are the same. My mother lived most of her life with enormous regrets. I’ve always strived to not follow that example. Her life was very difficult, and she fought with her demons until the day she died of Huntington’s Disease (another bitter blow) at the age of sixty-eight. As I navigate each of the phases she got through with me, I see now the ways in which my need to forge my own way probably felt like an even bigger indictment of her choices, than I intended. I see the ways I may have hurt her, when I didn’t want to.

When I moved as far away from her as I could, my mother had to have felt the pain I feel, now that my daughter lives on another continent. I’m proud of my daughter’s choices; I want to encourage her independence, but it’s hard not to feel the blow: she is ok being that far away from me. When I opted to get married in a different state than where my mom lived– rationalizing that that’s where our friends were, that’s where we lived–when I told her that she could look at some of my wedding dress choices at a shop near her, rather than getting to watch me try them on, she raged and cajoled. I told her she was being difficult. I saw it as one more sign that she just didn’t get it. I figured she just wanted it her way; she didn’t understand it was my life. Now that my daughter is planning her own wedding, seven thousand miles away from me, in a time zone 10+ hours ahead of mine; now that I have to rely on Skype and online messaging to see the plans unfold; now that I see what it will feel like to be a guest at my daughter’s wedding, rather than a host of my girl’s biggest day– my own mother’s hurt seems a little less… selfish. Now I’m the selfish one.

My daughter is a mother now. She has a gorgeous little boy, who I adore. Each time she implies that I’m out of touch with breast-feeding (Me? Me, who used to be a lactation consultant! Me, who nursed each of my three children for at least a year?), I feel my blood boil, but try to remind myself that she needs to explore her own options. Still, I boil: how much can breasts, and nipples, milk and baby’s latch, change? Or swaddling a baby (Me? Me, who could swaddle each of my three babes into the tightest of cocoons!), or talks to me about how much she loves her baby– as if she, and then each of her brothers weren’t the center of my entire world, for so very long, I feel my insides twist, even as I burst with joy and pride in her beauty as a mother. Each time I try to give her advice and hear the slightest dismissive tone– the very same tone I used with my mother, when she tried to tell me how she did things, I am struck by the irony that my daughter and I are locked in the same challenging dance that my mother and I danced before us. It is the same dance that my mother and my grandmother probably danced; it’s the same dance mothers and daughters have danced forever.

I can’t deny, my Mom loved being a Grammy every bit as much as I do!

As mothers, it’s so hard not to project our own dreams, our own insecurities, our own pasts, presents and hopes for the future, onto our daughters. I wanted to be so different than my own mother, and I imagine my daughter wants the same thing. I am different than my mother, and my daughter is different than me; we all evolve. Still, I hope there are things that my daughter chooses to emulate too. My mother’s brokenness is what I focused on, as I became an adult and cut our tangled ties. However, I can’t deny that when I’m silly, or cracking jokes at a party, I’m a lot like my mother. When I look at my grand baby, and want to just hold him and do it over, I understand my mother’s intense love for her grandchildren. She loved being a grandmother! When I look in the mirror and fret over new wrinkles, I understand a little better her battle with aging. Despite all my efforts to change and move away from her, my mother left her mark on me, and more and more I’m able to embrace that.

In all the ways I wanted to be different from my mother, in all the ways I’m the same; in all the ways my own daughter lets me know that she is creating her own life, I am reminded that karma is indeed a bitch. Karma is the bitch we run from, the one we repeat despite ourselves, the ways we hope to be different, and the ways truth comes to us in bits and pieces, as we age. Karma’s a bitch, and while that is sometimes painful, and sometimes a humbling reality, if we are open to it, the bitches we live with make us stronger.

Did you have a good relationship with your mother? Do you have a daughter? Share your thoughts in the comment section. Tell me what you think; I’m listening.

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About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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53 Responses to Mothers & Daughters: Karma’s A Bitch

  1. Pingback: Mothers & Daughters: Karma’s A Bitch – Engineer Marine Skipper

    • Welcome to Tales From the Motherland! I’m happy that you stopped by, and thanks for sharing my work; it’s much appreciated!


      • I love this post. I have 3 daughters, all so very different from each other. My oldest and I have that same struggle that I did with my own mother. She’s living with her dad presently while attending a college course. For now, our relationship is better, but when she’s home, it can be rocky. I know in time it will be great, but it’s so hard to see her struggle and do some things that she does. She is sometimes too open with me but that’s my own fault and I’d rather her be open and honest with me than not. My second daughter will be leaving for university this fall. She knows that we are in that awkward phase of the mother-daughter relationship. She hates it, but knowing that she acknowledges it makes it that much easier to bear for me. My youngest daughter is 14 and we will see what happens there. She could go either way. My son, well, he’s just nearly 9 and is my sunshine most days, except for being from a different planet as boys are. Thank you so much for writing this piece. It really rang true for me and for so many I’m sure.


        • Thank you so much for taking the time to read this piece, and share your thoughts; it’s much appreciated!

          I’ve always said: you put all the same ingredients in the bowl, and get completely different cakes, when it comes to kids! All 3 of mine are very different, though they are clearly siblings.

          Things do have a rhythm, with our kids, as they get older and we age too. Take time this summer; do something special with your college-bound child, before she goes. They get so caught up in their friends, etc, that last summer… but this is a special time, savor it!

          I recently published a piece about sons as well… it’s an entirely different gig! Enjoy that yumminess, while it lasts. 🙂 Thanks again.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. ksbeth says:

    this is all so familiar and true. i had a very challenging relationship with my mother, who passed away 5 years ago. i am also the mother of 3 grown daughters, each now married and with 2 children of their own. one lived in australia for the last 7 years and got married there. she and her family moved back here last summer. it is amazing, the karma.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! No wonder it’s familiar; we really do share some very similar details! My mother died New Year’s Eve, 2011, and I only have one daughter, but very relatable! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment ksbeth!


  3. Pingback: Mothers & Daughters: Karma’s A Bitch | ugiridharaprasad

  4. Funny how different times bring out different aspects of the ever-changing relationship. I’m closer to my daughter now– but every now and then that old ugliness can rear up again. With my own mother, I find myself working hard to be patient and know each day is precious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Things do shift and change, for sure, Lisa! Sometimes distance makes the heart grow fonder, and other times not so much. As my girl plans her wedding, I feel so disconnected, from something that I so longed to be a part of! I’m happy for her, but miss being around to help with details, share in planning, and celebrate her love. It’s just not the same, from 7,000 miles away.

      As always, thanks so much for your insight and time. xox


  5. fishfearme says:

    Dawn… wow just wow. I have two sons in their 30s (37 & 33)…I also have two daughters, 13 and 9. I was 50 years old when I witnessed the birth of my baby, Bailey. Being the Dad to girls is the most rewarding, yet most challenging time of my life. Girls are a whole new ball game, to me at least. That said, I wouldn’t trade it for the World (a new bass boat, maybe, but not the World) 😀 Further…I have a great relationship with my Mom. She is the most influential person in my life. Any redeeming qualities I have came from her. I am her only son and the oldest of her brood…maybe that has something to do with our relationship (plus there were times when my Dad wasn’t very nice to us so that could factor in as well), I don’t know. Anyway…this was a terrific post and a great read. Thanks. Much love and respect. Your amigo, Toby.


    • Well Toby, you are constantly surprising me! A different sign in, and a whole story here! And talk about a gap in parenting years! No doubt that gave you all kinds of perspectives that you can only get from having lived two different lives as a father. What a blessing to have that closeness with your mother, through it all. You are so wonderful to share your thoughts and support, time after time after time; thank you!


  6. Astrid de Manyet says:

    I think it all depends, you know? My relationship with my mother is one of heartbreak. She was never there for me when I needed her and she abandoned me at nearly every turn, and used me to save her own ass or make herself look good. My relationship with my teenage daughter is good. We struggle because of my disabilities, but our relationship is healthy and positive. We’re there for each other and I’m her mother and protector, not the other way around like it was with my mother. And my daughter knows that when the chips are down, no matter how afraid I am, no matter what the monster is we are facing, I won’t throw her under a bus to save my own ass. Mother/daughter relationships are as variable as mothers and daughters I think… is basically what I am saying. Except I said it long winded. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Astrid, not long winded at all, and so very true! My relationship with my mother was terribly conflicted, in so many ways. This is just one piece in a very long, tangled story! I thought I’d made my piece with her when she died 4+ years ago, but that tangled ball continues to bring me new challenges, as I learn new things and have to make sense of it. I just see now, as I parent my own daughter through some similar territory, that I didn’t always see it clearly either.

      You are so right, there are as many variations and differences, as there are women living those relationships! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts; I really appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Cathy Ulrich says:

    I had a really good relationship with my mother most of our lives together. My mom passed away ten years ago and I still miss her terribly. As you say here, Dawn, no relationship is perfect and we certainly had our differences. But I think for you and for me, the love came through. I guess the good news and the bad news is that you raised your daughter to be independent (I suspect my mom would have said the same thing).

    Over the years, my relationship with my mom evolved into a strong friendship and I think that’s what I’m most proud of – our mother/daughter bond enfolded in a strong friendship and mutual respect. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I look forward to the day when my daughter and I can really enjoy friendship. I think that’s very hard in these earlier years; ultimately, our kids still see us as Mom, first! I am lucky that I like all three of my children, very, very much! 😉

      Thanks for sharing, Cathy. Your support and wise words always mean so much to me! xox


  8. Carrie Rubin says:

    While I haven’t shared the same experience (my mother wasn’t really involved in my wedding planning and I don’t have any daughters), I can appreciate how difficult this must be for you. I’m sure I’ll face similar issues with my sons when they’re married and have children. As always, you express it so honestly and beautifully, Dawn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Carrie! I think the challenges with boys is amazing too! They inevitably leave… often, for other women! Whoever they fall in love with, sons generally maintain very different ties with their mothers, than daughters do–– which, I think, is both wonderful and challenging in whole other ways!

      I hope this time with your mother is going well. I’m sure your presence is just what the doctor ordered! xox

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post! I was afraid to have a daughter but life gave me two! So different from each other and myself. Why did I think it would be so hard? because it was hard being my mother’s daughter. I had to aggressively push back not to succumb to her constant pressure to appear perfect.
    Despite not trusting my mother I let her into my children’s lives because I thought she had had tough times and deserved a redo. Then she proved me wrong again and again. It takes too much effort to protect them from her judgmental crap. I do feel bad that my brother and sister now have the full brunt of her unhappiness when it used to be split 3 ways but they have learned to create boundaries and my mother is learning to behave better with less frequent relapses. Maybe she won’t be banned for life….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hopefully you and your mom can find some healing… but, having loved you a very long time, I understand your need for distance there, dear friend. I feel like my mother and I went through SO many transitions: until my late 20s, I was her confidant and partner, in so many ways! As a kid, I felt both torn by her lack of boundaries, and the importance I felt in being her partner. Then I went through years of anger and back and forth separations. In the end, the last few years, we found a loving, peaceful acceptance of so many things… but, the tides shift still. Ahhh… there’s a whole other post! 😉

      Thanks for sharing ME; I adore you! xoxo


  10. 143coaching says:

    I don’t know Dawn–I’m in a weird mood today so I don’t fully trust my brain, but I keep thinking about this so I want to share. I keep thinking about the phrase: “all the ways my own daughter lets me know that she is creating her own life” I guess I am just projecting on to her, but whenever my mom converted MY life choices into my somehow voting in favor or against her own, it was upsetting to me and felt invasive. I wasn’t voting on her life–I was simply living my own. Not as a statement just as a person with my own mind. I wanted to pursue and listen to the voice within myself. If it came out the same as what my mom’s voice told her, great, if not, great. I wanted to be true to myself, get really good at hearing and trusting myself. I wanted to experience all of it newly, through my own, fresh perspective not through hers. I also wanted her to recognize that voice within me, that I have my own sensibilities and experiences and perspective, as well as the fact that the world that I have to navigate is in some significant ways different the world that she did–it really is a different time.

    Anyway, I need to think more about this and how this maps for me with my own mom and my own daughter. Thanks for sharing all of this and getting my juices going on the mother/daughter thread.

    love to you!


    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right on the mark, Sue! There’s the challenge, right? Allowing our daughters to fully experience their own lives, while acknowledging that we have expectations and wishes, that we, as mothers, must manage and experience. The karma bit, is for effect, but it does feel prophetic that we often don’t get these things until we’re in it ourselves! I have NO doubt my mother felt I was “voting” for or against her, for much of my life, and now I am trying to manage that tricky bump in the road, with my own daughter… because in the end, I’m so happy to see her choosing her own path! 🙂 Thanks for sharing and glad I could start an inner dialogue, as well as this exchange! Love right back to you!


  11. Every time I visit here, Dawn, I wonder why I don’t read and comment on each of your amazing posts! This one, of course, touched my heart…as all of your writing does.

    I did have a good relationship with my mom…but when my husband and I had our first child, we decided to leave NYC and live in the country…a small town in CT. This put us almost 3 hours from my parents…and although I was sorry not to live closer, I don’t think I understood what it must have meant for them…for my mom. I don’t believe in looking back with regrets…we all make our decisions based on what we think is best at the time. But I do have a better understanding of how sad she must have been.
    I have a daughter…we were close when she was growing up…and I’m happy to say this has continued…we lived 2000 miles apart for many years when she first got married…I think that was hard for her…and for me. But I always encouraged her (and our sons) to live her life, however and wherever she wanted. There have been many times that I might have wanted to ‘say something’ about what she wore or did or said…but I held my tongue, for the most part…because I realized that I’ve made choices about my life (and I still do)…and she needs to make the choices for her life.
    Thank you so much, Dawn…your topics are always thought provoking and heartfelt. If you have a bit of time, take a look at the #50PreciousWords Contest on my blog…I know you are a fabulous writer…are you inspired to try to write a story for kids in 50 words or less? There are over 90 entries already…and some great prizes. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vivian, I am so very touched and honored by your incredible comment. I have admired your blog and what you do for parents, from the start, and I’m alway happy to see you here! It’s always been a strange thing to me, who stops by and takes the time to comment, and who doesn’t. Sometimes it feels like we all “know” each other, and I love that connection… and other times, not hearing from some folks feels harder than it probably should be. So, I really appreciate your feedback and lovely words.

      I can really related to your experience with your daughter. I am a person with strong opinions, and it has been a constant challenge to hold my tongue sometimes. I’m not always good at it. But in the end, I do respect each of my children, and admire their individual paths. I hope that comes across.


    • PS) I’ll check out the contest; it’s something I’d love to do! However, I leave at 5am tomorrow for more than a month away: NC and then Israel, for family events and my daughter’s wedding! Big stuff… lots of time demands. But I’ll look and hope to give it a try!


  12. Well, I say to myself “I am different”, but every time I stand in front of the mirror, I see how I resemble my mother. Trying to make my own path, I made a completely different set of mistakes, but mistakes they were. Looking at my mom’s life from various stages of my own life, I feel sadness for not encouraging her enough, for not placing my arms around her more often, for not saying “It is ok to make mistakes, let’s learn together.” Sadly, the hardest truth I found out when she was gone. Oh, how my soul weeps for that lonely, brave woman who gave the best she could.
    As many times before, I congratulate you on your honesty and bravery. It is hard to lay it out in the open, but oh boy, how it sets you free.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Loré, your vulnerability and honesty really moves me. I really understand what you’re saying, and have experienced some of the same things. My relationship with my mother has been and continues to be, 4 years after her death, complex and challenging, on so many levels. But, I certainly understand that there are things I didn’t get, when she was going through them… but see differently now that I am a mother too. Funny how that is! 😉 Thanks for reading my post, and sharing your very personal observations.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes, karma’s a bitch if you run from it and try to push it away. That’s the point. Until you can bring it close and love and accept it and allow it all to dissolve. Easy to do? No. But you are one smart cookie and are already on your way. I think you know that my relationship with my mother was complicated. And it was less than a year before she died that I finally began to understand how to start healing our relationship. I’m still working on it, and the progress is amazing. My heart goes out to you. I don’t know if you saw a book review I posted recently, but the book is amazing, and can be life altering as far as shifting perception of life.

    In any case, you so eloquently bared your heart in this piece, that every time you do this, you give me and others permission to open up and follow suit. Thank you for holding the torch and leading the way.


    • Susan, I love your wisdom and movement forward; it is so inspiring! I do remember that book recommendation and noted it at home, on my list of books to read. Maybe I need to move it up the list! 😉 Thanks so much for your thoughtful, supportive words; it means so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Annie Kiesau says:

    Amazing piece of knowledge. Thank you for this eye-opening and thought-provoking topic. I have 3 young daughters, 7, 5, 2 & 1/2 and a 4 month old son. We have not even approached this idea as I am still the center of their universe. But, I know things will get complicated quickly, and I will keep this article handy for when it does. I know my own relationship with my mother was completely reinvented after I had children, and I don’t get to see her enough!


    • Annie, welcome to Tales From the Motherland, and thanks so much for taking the time to read my piece and share your thoughts! Yes, you are a long way from all this, but the time does fly! Another cliché that will catch up with you! It’s so true that as we go through these things ourselves, it becomes much easier to understand so many things!


  15. jgroeber says:

    Alas, the bitches we live with do make us stronger. Sisters, mothers and daughters. Beautiful arching piece, Dawn, my dear. We take our mother’s gifts and try (try, try, try) to discard the rest. What will my daughters see as my gift? And what will they discard? Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. hbksloss says:

    Another wonderful piece of writing! I had a troubled relationship with my mother. I didn’t focus on her broken parts, but instead held onto and held dear all the negative and rejecting things she did to me. I held onto myself as her victim for years. It would have been healthier for me to see her as broken, but it wasn’t until i saw her start to treat my daughter in similar ways that i was finally able to label parts of her as deeply flawed and then move to grow up myself emotionally and spiritually. And I vowed (like so many other women) that my daughter and I would have a different relationship. And we do. We aren’t as close as I would wish, but we are intimate and connected in loving ways–more so with each passing year. I admire the woman she is and I hope she returns the feeling. I know she has had to separate herself physically and emotionally from me these past few years, but I hope as she gets older she sees me less as MOTHER and more as mother/sister/woman/friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have an older, female friend who once told me that mothers and daughters can never really be friends, because daughters can never truly see their mothers as anything more than that: mom. I don’t agree, but I do think it’s a challenge on both sides. It’s equally hard for many mothers to step away from just parenting.

      I really appreciate your comment, Heidi. Such wisdom and knowledge from your personal experience. Thanks so much for sharing it!


  17. Jackie Weber says:

    My Mother and I have a very complex relationship. We only recently began to live our worlds apart which has shed a much brighter light on the woman I’ve called Mom my whole life. In close quarters we always fought. She is very different from me in a lot of ways but in our time apart I’ve also seen and owned a lot of the traits I’ve picked up from her. It’s a growing process but I find myself a lot happier focusing on the preciousness of the time we have together rather than nit picking at our faults.

    Thank you for sharing your story! As always, you make me smile with the insight and life experiences you so candidly share.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I have had three mothers, strange right? My birth mother who I met when I was 25 and who is still living. My adoptive mother who passed away at 92, five years ago. My step-mother who I refer to as my Heart-Mother. Each played(s) a significant role in my life, in who I am and how I think about motherhood, empathy, compassion and the world in general.

    My adoptive mother was toxic, from the moment I was adopted at 3 days old, she was toxic. Had they done better screening in the 1950’s I suspect they would have perhaps caught on to her craziness and not allowed her to become an adoptive parent. I was estranged from her for much of my adult life, though once she descended into dementia I paid for her care and I was there, by her side when she passed.

    My birth mother, well she and I are of the same generation. We have had our ups and downs over the past couple of decades, but we have settled into a good and loving relationship. We figured it out, we support each other these days. We are only 16 years apart in age and oddly have had similar life experiences. She married my birth father after I was born, so it was an odd meeting between all of us those many years ago.

    My heart mother? I knew her all my life. Before she married my adoptive father, she was my aunt, married to his brother first. She was the best thing to happen to any of us, ever. Though they married later in life, she brought reconciliation to all of us. She brought us all back together and taught us about family.


    • What an incredible experience! So many of us struggle to work out relations with one mother, but three, that is something! I’m sorry that you were raised by someone who did not help you feel loved, and was toxic, but how beautiful that your step-mother made up for all of the rest! There are a lot of people who never get that. I appreciate you taking the time to read my work, and share your own personal story. Thank you!


  19. tonyabott says:

    Touching and real…there is no other deeper relation than a mother and a daughter…


  20. As a therapist and life coach for teens and college age girls, and the mother of an 18 y.o. daughter, I am thrilled that I found your blog! Having just read 2 of your your articles, I know that you are speaking my truth as well. So grateful to you for sharing your thoughts, experiences and heart with the rest of us who believe that mothering is our most important job ❤



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