No-one has the ability to rile you up quite like your mother. But why is it that mothers and daughters fight so much?
When I told my mum that I wanted to write a column about our relationship with each other, she was a little shocked. “But why do you want to write about our relationship, we have a great relationship?” she asked me. I told her that, even though our relationship is amazing now, I wanted to write about the two-year period where things weren’t that great. I knew that there would be others out there who have a similar story to ours and it was important for me to share this. So, after some initial hesitation, she agreed. I think she knew it would reflect more poorly on me than it would on her…
I want to start by saying that my mum is the most kind-hearted, generous, caring and welcoming person you’ll ever meet. She’s the kind of woman who strikes up a conversation with anybody and everybody and, within two minutes, they’re talking like the best of friends. People are drawn to her warm and inviting nature. She ALWAYS puts others first and has a unique way of seeing the best in everyone. Her intuition is so spot-on it’s frightening and she’d give you the shirt off her back if you asked. She also cooks the best lasagne I’ve ever tasted.
But all of this aside, there was a period of time when I was a teenager (between ages 16 – 18) that I treated my mum very poorly to say the least. I wasn’t a particularly pleasant teenager; I was the ‘keep it all inside and then explode’ type. I was moody, dramatic and a know-it-all and my mum was often on the receiving end of my (rather large) explosions. You see, my mum and I are alike in a lot of ways, but we’re also different in many more. Where she is calm and placid, I am quick to anger and easily irritated. Where she is soft and easy-going, I am loud and commanding. Where she can be vague and easily distracted, I am curious and particular. And it’s often these differences that cause us to clash.
It’s true that mothers seem to have a way of riling you up like no-one else. Often, the simplest question can feel like an intrusion. A kind gesture can feel like they’re suffocating you. A gentle piece of advice can feel like an order. Heck, many of my own arguments with my mother stemmed from each of us thinking that the other one didn’t understand them! More often than not, we push and challenge our mothers because they’re family and, at the end of the day, we know they’ll love us unconditionally. But that doesn’t make it right.
History tells us that we stop falling out with our mothers when we leave adolescence and, in most cases, I believe that to be true. For most people (myself included), the toughest part of the relationship with their mother happens around the age of 16. History also tells us that sometimes it’s not until you leave home and start to grow up that you truly realise your mistakes and begin to try fixing them.
In my case, I tried to put myself in my mother’s shoes. I know I can’t have been the world’s most pleasant teenager and yet my mum still loved me unconditionally and without judgement. But I never stopped to think about how I was making her feel. I never thought about how it would feel, as a mother, to find yourself continually criticised and challenged by your own daughter… I imagine it wouldn’t have been nice. It took me moving to another city to realise that the way I treated my mum was wrong. I still harbour a lot of guilt about that period in my life. Don’t let that happen to you too.
Mums put up with all the tough stuff. They listen to you cry for hours on end after a break-up; they let you complain incessantly about your friends and your job. They try fad diets with you but also help you down a bottle of wine. They ALWAYS give you an honest (sometimes unwanted) opinion. And despite how much we deny it, it seems they really do have an answer for everything.
So on Sunday 14 May, no matter how young or old you are, give your mum a hug and tell her you love her. You’ll probably never understand how much this means. And to my own mum, I’m so glad that I now get to call you my best friend. I love you very much.