mothers and daughters Archives - Stratejoy


I hate it when reality comes to kick me in the ass.

My mom came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. She had a conference in town and decided to bookend it with a stay at Disney, and because I now live so close, that also meant more than one trip to my apartment.

Now, I know you don’t know my mom. She is polite, gracious, smart, funny, and the mother of all perfectionists. And she has definite ideas about who I should be.

She’s willing to support me trying to follow the Paleo diet, but not a pole dance class.

She’s willing to support me going to yoga, but when she sees my bracelets that read STRONG and FEARLESS, she cocks a brow and asks why I would wear them.

She encourages me to continue working at a job where I can already see the writing on the wall. Why? Because it’s a steady paycheck and health insurance.

She shops with me for t-shirts and jeans, but not strappy high heels. Because, naturally, the only place I would wear those is in my pole class, which makes them stripper shoes.

My mom is supportive of the rule-following, head-down-and-nose-to-the-grindstone girl I was when I lived in Michigan.

I am not that person any longer. And it seems the more I share the woman I am becoming, the less I seem to fit the mold of “acceptable daughter”.

Last December, I got a tattoo on my left wrist. It’s the symbol for om–yes, as in chanted meditation om–which, among other things, signifies the belief that everything happens in this moment. I got it for a multitude of personal reasons, but at the front of my mind was the realization that I need to live in the present.

The tattoo did not go over well with Mom. Why? Because now she was one of “those” moms: the ones with kids who have piercings and tattoos. Because at 27, I had made a decision that clearly signified that I was going to head down a path of stupid decisions.

Me, the one with the masters’ degree.

Me, the one who doesn’t drink.

Me, the one who spent 4 months making sure it was something I truly wanted before I committing to the ink.

None of this mattered. I was now casting her parenting skills in a bad light.

My confession about pole classes was met with silence at first. And then a line of questioning into my motives which actually ended with me having to confirm that I had no intention of becoming a stripper.

She didn’t ask about why I wanted to study pole.

I would have had her watch a video of Natasha Wang or Jenyne Butterfly; ladies who truly make pole dance look like art.

I would have told her that I wanted to actually connect to my body and what it meant to be feminine.

Sensing another fight and another instance of disappointment, I gave up trying to explain myself. So when the day came to pick my mom up from the airport, I packed up my grip aid, my meditation supplies, my sage, and my 7″ platform heels.

I packed away me, and I’m at war with myself because of it.

Part of me believes that there is no shame in trying to avoid conflict, especially if I can see it coming a mile away. The other part of me says that I’m not being honest.

Because you know what else I discovered? It’s not about me becoming the woman I was always meant to be.

It’s about her. It’s about my mom, and the fact that I’m making choices she never would have made. It’s about not supporting actions that do not fit in her world and with her perception of her family’s roles.

It’s not about me. And for the first time, I can truly see that.

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How do you be a mom while also being someone’s daughter?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, as Kate just turned twoMy grandma needs mothering and is no longer able to be a mother or a grandmother.  I’m growing older and so are my parents.

My parents are part of that sandwich generation, that set of people who are parents to their parents and still the parents of of their young adult/grown children.  Where does that leave them?  Caretaking and caregiving.  And also grandparents.  A weird mashup of generations.

Where does that leave me in our family dynamic?

In some ways, I’m still in need of mothering.  I don’t always know what to do about toddlers running a fever or what to do when my garbage disposal won’t run or choosing matte or eggshell finish for my walls or finding myself in a relationship dilemma only a mother can help me through.

But I’m also a mother.  I tend to the boo-boos and make daily parenting decisions and do all those adult things like pay bills and call the insurance company.

And what about my mother?  Who takes care of her?

As a child and a teenager, my relationship with my mom was mostly one-sided.  I needed her for emotional support and guidance.  She provided.  She didn’t share her struggles, her challenges.  As her child, I probably couldn’t have understood or maybe it would have been too much of a heavy burden.

But now I’m an adult, her adult child.  And our relationship has changed and needs to change.  I can take it now, the heavy stuff.  And she needs to share.

We had a conversation recently about communication, as adult child to parent, how sometimes I need her to check in with me and sometimes I need her to let me be.  And how she needs to share with me how she feels frustrated dealing with an aging parent, challenging issues at work, how she and my dad plan to go about retirement.

Part of me feels itchy and uncomfortable, seeing my mom as a person with her own struggles and challenges.  Part of me only wants to view her and my Dad as Parents.  Those People Who Know Everything.  Seeing her as someone apart from my mother is a strange realization.

It feels a little scary.  When I’m in a scrape, I always think my mom will know what to do.  But seeing her as a fellow woman and mother and wife makes me wonder what if she doesn’t?  What then?  Who will offer me advice and tell me everything’s going to work out?

But over this past year, as I’ve found myself more comfortable with motherhood and settled into accepting that the dementia taking over my grandmother’s mind isn’t going to change, I’ve morphed from my parent’s child to a companion down the road of life challenges.  When I was a child, we couldn’t really be friends.  But now, as adults, we are confidants, partners and allies in support of each other.

My Mom might not always have the magic words for me.  And I won’t always know how to help her.  But we can be there for each other.  Support each other.  And no matter what, she’ll always be my mom.