“Daughter, stop lifting weights – you look muscular. It will be hard to find a boy for you.”
“Really mom, does my life boil down to impressing a guy? You found it frustrating when grandma would give your brother freedom while denying yours. It is funny how you have forgotten your struggles for independence when it comes to your own daughter.”
Growing up, my mother was my best friend. I loved being her confidante for her stressful moments – we would cry together in secrecy. I learnt to repress desires just like she did. A normal mother-daughter relationship, right?
My mother’s secret exploration of the arts was an escape from everyday life. At times, she stated that she married due to cultural obligations and that if she were born in today’s era, she would have prioritized her artistic aspirations over marriage or kids. I am ever grateful to her for imparting her skills to me. Exploring my artistic side helped me find my true self with progressively lesser insecurities – now I am getting closer to realising my aspirations beyond just society’s status profession. So, should mother not be happy that I am doing something that she could not?
If mother had stood up for herself back then, would I even be here today? Should I feel obligated by her sacrifices? Or should I feel angry with her for discouraging independence? Or should I feel love towards her for helping me discover myself?
It is definitely a confusing love-hate relationship. As I shed my insecurities, it has become easier to take her comments at face value. She is doing as best as she can within her capacity. Now, I can help her with her insecurities and liberation – almost a role reversal. The scales are tipping in favour of the positive side of this relationship. She respects my independence and is less critical about my choices now.
Supporting each other develop individuality has been key in rejuvenating our relationship. Unless there is obvious maleficence, both overcritical and repressed mothers are easier to appreciate and love when you become your own individual outside your mother.