The Complex and Fragile Relationship of Mother and Daughter – Pt. I

I love my mother.

There are times when I think about the relationship between me and my mother and get lost in my own feelings of anger and sadness of everything that happened and I feel….well, angry and sad. My feelings aren’t black and white but I do love my mother.

You see, my mother had me when she was young, and so much of what happened later was because of what happened before and…..maybe I ought to start at the beginning.

From what I have been told of my mother’s childhood it was a rough one. I don’t know much about her mother, but I do know her father was not a very nice man. He was hard on his kids and showed them no love or affection. I think her mother may have tried but I imagine being married to a man like that left her feeling like she was walking on eggshells.

My mother’s father was also a racist man who basically believed that black people were not even in the same species as white people. You can imagine his reaction to finding out his daughter was dating a black man and later became pregnant with his child at the age of 18.

I do not know if my mother was kicked out of her home, or if she chose to leave, but I do know at some point she thought it was best to give me up for adoption. She had even chosen a family to adopt me, a family she would later tell me was well off financially. It would become a joke among my siblings that I had almost gotten out.

Just after my birth the nurse announced to my mother that I was a girl, which I think she wasn’t supposed to do, and my mother changed her mind and decided to keep me. My father’s mother had offered to take her in whether my father wanted to help raise me or not.

I had been born a bit early, by at least 2 weeks, I think, I had an umbilical hernia, and I was jaundice so I had to be kept in an incubator for a bit.

After that things are aren’t clear.  At some point my parents did get married but I don’t know exactly how their relationship was after my birth, or whether or not my father wanted me. I do know that later things would get bad though. My father was not a very good husband. He grew up in a bad situation too and had no reference point for how to be the head of his new family.

My mother says I was a hard baby. She says I cried a lot with her but not with my father. She says she would be home with me all day and I would cry and then my father would come home from work and I would be happy. That, coupled with the fact that my father wasn’t a good husband probably made her feel left out. She says she felt the need to have another child, one she could connect with, a baby for her. Four years after I was born, I had a baby sister.

I remember being about 4 or 5 years old and living in Virginia. We had moved there from Colorado but I don’t know exactly why. My mom says by then I had calmed down and become a good child. I learned things easily and potty trained early and rarely did anything “bad”.

I remember my parents fighting all the time, and I remember the fights were bad. I don’t know how I felt about the fighting, I may have just been used to it. I imagine they had probably been fighting like that since my birth.

Then one day my dad was gone. My mother says I blamed her but I don’t remember that. I feel bad as an adult knowing that I did that and knowing now that it was not my mother’s fault. It must have hurt her deeply to hear that and see the sadness in me that my dad, who I had been so close to, had left. My memory jumps forward then and we are back in Colorado.

I remember knowing that we didn’t have money for a lot of things, and I remember that my mom was angry all the time. I remember that I had to help out a lot and I had to help take care of my sister. I remember that my dad didn’t send money sometimes and I remember that he didn’t call or come pick us up much. I remember that I was sad and I felt lost. I remember that my mom worked and slept a lot and I remember that her and my sister were closer than she was with me.

I was never angry at my mother, I just felt frustrated. I felt frustrated that I couldn’t do anything to help and that I couldn’t get out of the situation I was in. I was frustrated that whatever I did do wasn’t right, or enough, and I was frustrated that there was no hope of anything changing.

I also didn’t understand why things had to be so hard. I didn’t understand why my father left and I didn’t understand why my mother was angry. I understand now and that is why despite everything that happened I love my mother. She made tough choices and she did the best she could with me without any guidance and without a support system.

I remember that my mother always worked hard. I remember we always had enough food, I remember we always had clothes, and I remember we always had a roof over our heads. I remember we had school supplies, I remember we had gifts for Christmas, and I remember we had each other.

And for all of that I love my mother and I always will no matter what.


Today is my mother’s birthday and I wanted to write something about her and I realized that there has been so much between us, so much that I haven’t said, so much that I want to say that this will have to be a two part post. Look for the second part on May 10th, Mother’s Day.

I also want to say very quickly that these are my views and feelings of my past from my own perspective and not intended to hurt anyone. I love my family very much and only want to be honest about my experience. 

The image is of me and my mother when I was a baby.


3 Replies to “The Complex and Fragile Relationship of Mother and Daughter – Pt. I”

  1. I hope that your mother reads this and sees the love and honesty in it. Things are always complicated between mothers and daughters (and, I think, between sons and fathers). They are our first role models for what it is to be women and men. They are our sense of self, and security – our first experience of love (or lack of it). They are our first best friends, and sometimes our worst enemies, and sometimes both all rolled up into one. They are daughters and sons, themselves, and still don’t quite understand why they couldn’t do as well – or better – than their own parents. Yes, it’s complicated. But it’s good when we’re able to say, as adults, without reservation: “I love my mother,” or “I love my father.” And, “I turned out okay.”


  2. Thank you for sharing this post with me. I was also told that I was a difficult child that cried a lot. And I had a younger sister who was very close to my mother. Thank you for sharing this post with me. It gave me something to think about.


  3. I popped over to read your A to Z post and was drawn down by the title of this one when I finished the “I”post. Our circumstances were different but you said “I love my mother” and then you had to explain. That is so my mother and I. I look forward to reading your part two. This one already struck a chord.


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