Friday, August 30, 2013

Of Mothers and Love

“She’s just your normal, overprotective, overbeating, over-the-top mother.”

I’ve just finished watching a movie called Because I Said So, where Diane Keaton, who is just gorgeous and I completely adore, meddles in her daughter’s (Mandy Moore) personal/love life. And while my mother does not directly meddle in my love life, except pointing out the many inadequacies of my ex-fiancĂ©, the decision of the break-up was solely mine. Of course, the decision of the engagement itself was not. Let’s not forget the every morning scenario of why I am not getting married has become, well, an every morning scenario.

In the movie, from the very beginning, the mother is trying to push her daughter into relationships, telling her not to laugh her nervous laughter because it scares away the men, and pushing her to wear dresses that aren’t really the daughter’s style, but the mother’s. Now the daughter is an accomplished chef with her own catering business. She got the expensive loft and the car and the career, but not the guy, which concerns her mother so much because she doesn’t want her to end up alone, like her. Admirable sentiment that I’m sure all mothers relate to, what she doesn’t know however, or refuses to listen to, is how by her constant nagging and “suggestions” she is ruining an important part of her daughter; her confidence in being herself. Even though she may suggest at her daughter to wear a pleated skirt to impress her boyfriend’s conservative parents, and even though the daughter screams at her mother that she hates pleated skirts, she wears it all the same. Somewhere in the middle of the movie, the daughter mentions that her mother has impeccable taste. I agree, after all it IS Diane Keaton, but I wondered if what she was really saying was I feel more comfortable with my mother’s choices because I trust her taste more than I trust my own?
I wonder how many of us daughters relate, and how many of you mothers relate as well? For me, I feel like I am fighting a daily battle with myself as well as with my mother. Her suggestions to me feel more like orders because they are always accompanied with some sort of put down, like how my dress doesn’t fit anymore because I am letting myself eat too much, or how because I am a bit tight for money this month is because of my horrible financial management. So I end up listening to her advice or suggestions or whatever orders put into a subtle tone of “I suggest you do this, because see what happens when you don’t? You do all the wrong things” while feeling horrible about myself, with no confidence in my own choices or my own way of thinking. Looking for validation elsewhere, it is easier to stay at work where I have got good control of what I do and the people around me are confident in my decisions rather than go home and explain to my mother how I like my new shoes even though she doesn’t (which is the fight with her), and how when I do buy those shoes I should consider less what she would think of them (which is my fight with myself) and trust my own taste.
It is better to screw up our decisions now, our love lives, our finances, our styles, until we find that sweet spot where it is okay, really okay, to be ourselves. Even though my mother used her suggestion/put down methods on my ex while we were engaged, but because I wasn’t really telling her anything about how the relationship was progressing, they were focused only on the material shortfalls, which I always believed, and still believe, settle themselves. The emotional/personal shortfalls I had to figure out for myself, and decide upon for myself. It wasn’t until after the breakup that she, again, used her technique to “suggest” that in the future, I tell her how things are going because her experience would help me see the red signs. My mother does have impeccable taste, and my taste is quite sloppy and totally different, although I’d like to think I have a shabby chic thing going on from time to time. The thing is there are things that I know she is right about, and they’re probably a lot, and other things are, while right, that are greatly exaggerated. I guess what she needs to do is realize that I am not completely blind, and that while her opinion is indeed precious, it does not have to come with a constant lacking feeling.
Maybe all that love mothers have for daughters, and all that fear for their safety just needs to be polished with a little faith in us. It’s time for us to lead our lives, not follow theirs.

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