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The Complex Relationship Between Mothers and Daughters

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McMaster chapter.

During reading week, I, unfortunately, caught a cold and instead of being a productive student, I binge-watched a bunch of movies I did not have the emotional capacity of rewatching. One of those movies happened to be Lady Bird. I remember sitting in silence, alone in my brother’s apartment with the lights off thinking about Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother. Then I started thinking about mine. I thought about how complex things were back then and sometimes, how complicated things are now. I don’t have a bad relationship with my mother; it’d be a disservice to say that I do (she also reads these things, so, hi mom!). But I do think that any daughter who has some form of relationship with their mother knows how deep your love runs for each other and, in turn, makes the salt in the wound sting a little more.

Mothers aren’t perfect, but as children, we don’t really know that. We view our parents as godly figures; people who didn’t make mistakes and had all of the wisdom in the world. They raised us, fed us, taught us everything we know, and loved us before we even had the capacity to love back. Greta Gerwig understands the passive-aggressive love between mother and daughter so perfectly. When we grow up and start finding our own identities, it’s not out of the usual to overcompensate by becoming everything we never were. That also means resenting the personality that your mother had probably projected onto you. Trust me, it was never intentional. As I said previously, our mothers raised us before we had the capacity to love and most importantly, to think for ourselves. I don’t blame them for finding the personality shift jarring when their perception of you was so engrained in the years they spent raising you. It takes time for us to find ourselves, so why not afford our mothers the same patience?

I found out in the last year or so that I had a fearful avoidant attachment style, which means I’m a terrible communicator—no wonder I’m a writer! I have always given off a stand-offish vibe. I will love someone with my heart on my sleeve but have no problem leaving when I find it necessary. My desire for independence takes up a majority of my personality. When a mother’s abandonment issues meet a daughter’s need for independence, that’s when the relationship starts getting a little rocky. Women have a different emotional capacity than men do. There’s a whole different argument to make on why that is, but let’s just settle with the idea that women were socialized that way. So picture this, you’re a teenager doing everything you can to detach the identity that has been projected onto you. Your mom, someone who’s spent years depriving herself of being emotionally vulnerable for the sake of saving face, watches the daughter she raised to become someone she doesn’t even recognize. You have no understanding of healthily communicating emotions and distress, so the tension just builds. It builds and builds and builds until it all falls apart. This is what Greta Gerwig perfectly encapsulates in Lady Bird. The rising tensions, the passive-aggressive remarks drizzled with love, and the unfortunate teary-eyed confrontation where things you never meant to say finally come out.

Mother-daughter relationships are complicated. Whether it’s complicated now or it was back then, we’ve all gone through that journey in some shape or form. I don’t downplay how much my mother has impacted my life. I wouldn’t be here without her. Sometimes I watch Everything, Everywhere, All at Once and cry thinking about her. Women are complex beings who have a way of feeling love, hate, and other complex emotions to a degree that can’t be explained. Being taught how to really feel things, real emotions, was the best thing my mother could have taught me.

Krissie Cruz is a National Writer for the Wellness department and a contributor to the Her Campus McMaster chapter. She writes a slew of topics but primarily focuses on all things culture, wellness and life. Aside from Her Campus, Krissie is currently a fourth-year political science student with a specialization in public law and judicial studies. She also has a minor in philosophy and an interest in applied social sciences research. Although her initial dream was to pursue law, her passion for writing has led her to a future in the publishing industry. Despite a shift in interests, politics and social justice hold a special place in her heart. In her free time, she spends hours binge-reading, taking film photography, and curating oddly specific Spotify playlists. She’s an active participant in the queer Toronto space by attending events and if her schedule allows it, volunteering for Pride Toronto.