The matriarchal line – Oryana explores being a daughter and being mother.
Last night my mum baked the cake for my daughter’s sixth birthday party, painstakingly decorating the butterfly with pink and purple glitter at 10pm. She’s also flown across the country to help during the school holidays, doing everything from taking our kids to the dentist to washing, cooking and even helping with jobs left over from our renovation.
Growing up, my mum and I shared a close relationship, based on mutual respect. We enjoyed spending time together and still do. Now that I have my own children I’ve thought a lot about my own relationship with my mum and realised that despite being extremely close, we’re not BFFs though.
What she contributes in my life far exceeds what best friends do for each other. Aside from birthing me all those years ago, I’m referring to our relationship now. Of course I’m also there for her – I’ve flown home to comfort her when our family dog died and she was upset, I phone often, we shop, exercise and cook together, but still we are not on equal footing.
When we talk, the conversation often slides back to what is happening in my life as we dissect my problems and celebrate my accomplishments. It’s not because what she is doing is less interesting or important. I think it comes from the unbridled giving that many a mother bestows on her children.
I only understood the extent of giving that comes with motherhood after I became a mother myself.
Most mothers will do anything for their children – and that doesn’t stop when they grow up – my mum explains to me as we power walk one afternoon. Clearly it’s true.
Parenting during the laissez-faire 1970s and 80s was a gargantuan shift from the authoritarian era that preceded it and the mother-daughter relationship has become more common. Take Hollywood for some larger-than-life examples – Lindsay Lohan and her mum Dina, the Kardashian girls and their ‘momager’ Kris Jenner, as well as Kate Hudson and look-alike mum Goldie Hawn.
However some, like Elizabeth Buchan, who wrote Daughters, are wary of this relationship becoming too close and without boundaries.
“Being a friend to my daughter was lovely for me, but it was not, necessarily, in her best interests,” wrote Buchan in the UK’s Daily Mail last year.
Linda Perlman Gordon agreed, telling Oprah: “A mother’s job is to manage her own feelings so that a daughter doesn’t feel that she’s taking care of her mother, but that she can deal with whatever her own issues are.”
I can see how this is important, especially in a child’s younger years, and I am thankful that my mother was a guiding force throughout my life.
Dr Peggy Drexler’s words in the Huffington Post resonate more with me: “Unlike a best friend, a mother and daughter relationship is permanent. This makes it naturally more intimate – and intense.”
As my daughter starts the delicate process of exploring the world a little independently, I find myself examining our relationship and wondering how I can be a good mother to her, but also that a healthy friendship ensues as she grows up.
Sometimes it’s clear my strong-willed little girl needs a strong voice and secure boundaries. Other times I take pleasure in watching her making her own decisions. All the while I love the moments where we dance, giggle and share secrets. I have good faith that our relationship will continue to flourish in a healthy way and my daughter loves all that comes with my friendship. She’s even started choosing which shoes she can borrow first when she is big enough that we can share clothes.
As Mother’s Day approaches this Sunday, take the time to forge these friendships with your daughters, but don’t forget to appreciate your own mothers.
Aside from spending time with her two children and husband, Oryana can be found in the well-trodden halls of News Limited where she writes for The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph. She has also written for Australian Geographic, New Zealand Herald, Jerusalem Post, Sydney Morning Herald, The Big Issue, Cosmopolitan and more. Growing up with hippie parents she rebelled by going to uni, marrying a nice young man and later enforcing routine on her own children. Nowadays she enjoys getting to the heart of important social issues, telling people’s stories and enjoying the journey of life. You can contact Oryana or read other articles she has written, at www.oryanaangel.com .
Life Balance = Family. Friends. Nature.
© Feature photograph by Dominika Ferenz