Can I Be The Mother I Never Had For My Daughter?

by Kelly Arnell
Originally Published: 
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Right now, my daughter is two years old. I am her whole world. I am a stay-at-home mom, and she spends all day, every day with me.

She’s getting better about separation anxiety, but there are still many times when I walk out the door to leave her in the care of her father or a babysitter and I have to peel her off my legs in order to leave.

Five minutes after I’m gone, she’s fine, but the last image I have of her, before I run to the store or go out for Mom’s Night Out or wherever, is her crumpled on the floor, sobbing, “Mama.”

“She’s a Mama’s girl,” people always affectionately tell me.

“She is,” I agree as she turns away and buries her face in my chest.

Despite all this, I worry.

I worry that we won’t get along someday.

I don’t mean we’ll have a bad day and get mad at each other for a little while. I mean I worry that we will fundamentally not know each other.

I worry that she won’t trust me.

I worry that I will emotionally manipulate her.

I worry that she won’t feel excited to share good news with me or will feel anxious about sharing bad news with me for support.

I worry that I won’t be a shoulder to cry on.

I worry that I won’t be the person she wants to celebrate with in good times or just the person she wants to hang out with in perfectly ordinary times.

I worry because all of the above describes my relationship with my mom.

I am not close to my mom.

I am jealous of adult daughters who are.

Daughters who gush about their mom being their best friend or who go on shopping trips or girls’ weekends or get their nails done together.

I’ve had to mourn the loss of that kind of relationship with my mother. The kind of relationship I wish I had. I should say I’m still mourning that loss. It will always be a work in progress.

I never knew my mother’s mother. My grandmother died two years before I was born. My mother, though, has often told me that I remind her of her mother. Which I guess means I shouldn’t be surprised that they didn’t always get along very well.

As a child, I often fantasized about what life would have been like had my grandmother survived her cancer. I imagined her as my kindred spirit, my rock to cling to when the rough waters of my home life left me struggling to keep my head above water.

I gave my daughter my grandmother’s name. For right now, she is Mama’s girl. I worry that she won’t always be, but I have hope too.

Hope that I can be everything for her that my mother wasn’t for me.

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