Making Peace With Mom
by Barbara Quick
My mother was going through menopause while I was going through puberty. This deadly hormonal cocktail poisoned the well of a relationship already muddied by my family's weird and, at the time, unfathomable dynamics.
|Now You're the One Who Can Make It All Better: |
You'll have to forgive your mother before things can change between you.
Forgiveness is a matter of giving up on trying to change the past.
You can't make her change or see your point of view — don't even try.
If you change your part of the dance you and your mother do together, the whole dance will change.
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Even after I left home at the age of 17, we rarely had a phone conversation that wasn't punctuated by ugly, sniping remarks, that didn't end with one or both of us awash in angry tears.
Now that I'm at life's midpoint and my mother is hovering at the edge of life's end, we've turned to each other with the compassion, respect and love that eluded us for so many years.
We're just two adult women with a whole host of memories and DNA in common. When we talk on the phone now, we sound like, well — like a couple of friends.
How did this happen? And why did it take so long?
Toronto therapist and author Marilyn Irwin Boynton says it's the responsibility of the adult daughter to make the changes needed to heal a wounded mother-daughter bond.
"Mothers have shot their bolt by the time the daughter has grown up," observes Boynton. "If they'd been able to notice what they were doing wrong and to make changes, they would have done it by then."
Boynton identifies two types of overly enmeshed mother-daughter dyads. There are the ones who cheerfully describe themselves as "two peas in a pod" — who choose the same clothes and like all the same things.
"Often in such relationships," says Boynton, "there isn't scope for the daughter to be herself. She's forced into the role of mothering her mother or else being the person her mother wants her to be rather than finding her own differentiated identity."