I'm Going To Break The Cycle, And Have A Strong, Loving Relationship With My Daughter

by Tanay Howard
Scary Mommy and Hill Street Studios/Getty

I want to first preface this entire article by saying, the relationship that I have with my mother now is great! We are in probably the best place that we have ever been in and we’re growing. That being said, we were not always this way.

I come from a long generational line of screwed up mother/daughter relationships. Call it what it is. We could use some family therapy. The majority of these relationships don’t get fixed until the daughter in the relationship is well into adulthood, or by some way of force. For example, my great grandmother needs help, and therefore my grandma has no choice but to be there for her. That essentially forces the relationship to be … whatever it is that they need it to be.

So my relationship with my mom has in the past been…. less than stellar.

I spent most of my teenage years being the typical teenager who thought they knew it all. I cut school, I “ran away” and I eventually moved over 500 miles away with a boyfriend who all but literally killed me. I rebelled. And at the time I felt like my mom quit on me. I held onto that feeling until well into my 20s.

In 2014 I became pregnant with my oldest child. Sometime in my third trimester I remember asking my younger brother “what if I can’t do this?” I felt completely lost. I was not yet at a point in my relationship with my mother to ask her for guidance. I had no idea what being a “good mom” should look like. He simply reassured me that I would be fine. Plus I was having a son. Boys are automatically mama’s boys. I wasn’t going to be tasked with breaking any generational curses because this would be different. And it sort of was.

Now here I am on baby number three.

After having two boys, I knew that I wanted a daughter. But I had no idea what a healthy mother-daughter relationship was. And when I found out I was having my baby girl last year I found myself asking the same question. WHAT IF I CAN’T DO THIS? But this time I meant it differently. Even with this being my third baby I felt like I was having my first child. I had no idea what I was doing. I had never had a daughter and I was just now figuring out what it meant to be a good one myself.


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Having my own daughter absolutely terrifies me.

I look at my baby girl and see myself. I think about what she’ll be like through each phase of her life. I wonder about her curiosity since I can already see her taking so much of the world in. And a part of me feels like her big bright eyes can already see the parts of me that are the most wounded. I pray she doesn’t already see right through me.

I find myself staring at my 12 week old and just hoping I don’t fail her. I have actually said it out loud to her on more than one occasion already. I of course want to be a good mom to all my children but having a little girl just feels like it adds a different level of pressure. I’m now set with the task of figuring out what it means to be a good daughter while navigating how to be a good (and different kind of) mom. I’m mourning the relationship I wish that I had while actively working to be the parent she needs. And is being a hard teenager hereditary? Those seem to run in my family.

For me, being a good mom to my daughter means I have to also be a good daughter to my mother.

Because I intend to lead by example. And showing my children healthy and functional relationships between the women in this family is important to me. I am lucky that all parties are ready and willing. I don’t take it for granted that in a time where chaos is never further than a knock away, my family is working to mend what’s broken. And I know not all people have that same privilege.

I’m not expecting this to be easy. Expression has always come easier to me in writing and I know there are a lot of tough talks ahead. I can imagine that a hard conversation is going to come immediately following this article being discovered. But I owe it to my inner child, my children, and my mom to have them. No more putting feelings on the back burner. No more pretending to be okay.

I owe my daughter this. And I’m going to be an amazing mom to her no matter how much it scares me.