This is a story about a mother and her daughter and of her daughter’s daughter. It begins in 1961. A period in time where mothers stayed home with their children and children were taught to be seen but not heard. Children were expected to be good girls and boys and respect their elders. Friends of their parents were addressed as Mr. and Mrs or Uncle and Aunt. These points are important as they play a role in the relationship between this mother and daughter and her daughter’s daughter.
When she was five, the daughter said something that seemed funny to her and apparently it was NOT to “Uncle Frank” and her mother. The shock of being harshly reprimanded for her childish act haunted her well into her later years. She was too young to understand relationships between mothers and fathers. One day, her father disappeared from her life and she ask her mother “why”? The mother replied, “We don’t talk about him anymore”. The mother saw a lot of “Uncle Frank” after her father disappeared and the daughter lived in fear of Uncle every time he visited.
When she was seven, the daughter got a new father, when one day, she was introduced to a man and his four children. They were all sitting in the kitchen of the home she shared with her brothers and her mother. Her mother said, “This is Mr. Dew and these are his children. They are living with us now as one big happy family and you will call him father”. In fact when the daughter went to school her last name was changed to his so she was recognized as one of his children. The daughter was now one of ten children where she was seen but not heard.
When she was twelve, the daughter saw her father, the one she knew as her father, at her brother’s wedding. Her father sat right behind her and when she turned to say hello, her mother stopped her. Her mother said “it would hurt her new father’s feelings if you turned around.” So the daughter sat looking forward because she was afraid of getting into trouble. Her mother said “that’s a good girl”. By the time she was free to reconnect with her father she knew as her father, he was gone, again. The daughter became aware of the anger growing inside of her towards her mother. It was also the beginning of the resentment she felt for her new father and the difficulties she was to create for him and her mother for years to come.
When she was fifteen, she learned that telling the truth was painful and life took an abrupt turn in her young life. The daughter told her Aunt about a great pain she had been carrying for a couple of years. She was suffering under the burden of her step-father’s inappropriate behaviour towards her when she was 13. The Aunt was horrified by this news and shared this with the daughter’s mother. The mother asked the step-father if this was true, and in front of her daughter, he said “no, it was not”. This was devastating to the daughter and when her mother took her step-fathers word over hers that the divide between mother and daughter ripped open beyond repair.
In her sixteenth year, the daughter left home filled with anger and hurt in her heart, not only for them but for herself as she grew older and became a mother herself. It was also the time that her father that she knew as her father passed away, leaving her yet again.
When she was twenty-one, the daughter discovered that her father she knew as her father, was not her biological father. Her Aunt felt the need to share the truth about her beginnings. To discover she had three fathers should have been quite devastating to the daughter but instead she became curious about the skeletons in her family closet and asked her mother for the truth. It was a truth her mother never wanted her daughter to know and now that she did, strangely, it was a truth that brought them together, they had something to work on together. They actively searched for the man who was her biological father, and there was peace between them. The daughter found pleasure in the knowing and she looked forward to being asked “who is your father?”. With a big smile on her face, her answer was always, “which one?, my biological father, the one I knew as my father, or my step-father?” Of course laughter would follow and she told her story over and over and over again until she became numb to impact this had for her. A few years past and the daughter found the courage she needed to reach out to her biological father only to be rejected. This would forever fuel her sadness when she watched strangers joyfully reconnect with lost loved ones. The mother and the daughter, both learned that you can numb yourself from the pain inflicted by others but you can never escape self-inflicted pain.
“That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”Friedrich Nietzsche ~ 19th century German philosopher
When she was twenty-five, the daughter became a wife and mother in a period in time where mothers were free to choose, work at home or away and children were encouraged to be seen and heard. Children were still expected to be good girls and boys, address older people by Mr. and Mrs and it was okay to address their parent’s friends by their first names rather than Uncle and Aunt. One day the daughter had a daughter of her own and a new hope of righting the wrongs in her own mother/daughter relationship. The daughter vowed that her relationship with her daughter would be different because she was nothing like her mother. Or was she?
As time went on the daughter started to recognize her mother’s words coming from her mouth when she spoke to her daughter. The horror of sounding like her mother struck fear into her heart. The daughter started to notice her mother’s ways of being, showed up in her way of being, and she cried for her daughter’s love. The mother’s daughter tried everything she knew to connect with her daughter, only to be rejected over and over and over again. The daughter was once again filled with anger and hurt in her heart, not only for her mother and her daughter but for herself as she grew older and became a grandmother.
When the daughter was fifty, she realized that she had the same relationship with her daughter that she had with her mother! She sank deep into despair. In her heart, she knew that she would have to heal her relationship with her mother to change her relationship with her daughter and the thought of this terrified her. What if she couldn’t??? For many years the daughter had tried to forgive her mother, for choices that her mother made. As a mother herself she understood that her mother had done the best that she could. The daughter worked hard at forgiving and she thought that she had finally reached forgiveness towards her mother. Finally she could have the relationship with her daughter that she longed for. Or could she?
The daughter watched her daughter blossom into a beautiful, wise woman who expressed her love for everyone except her mother. No matter how the daughter expressed her love to her daughter, the her daughter would meet her with nothingness. “I love you” was met with silence. “Can we get together?” was answered with “I’m busy”. The daughter’s heart was broken and again she felt the divide between mother and daughter tear open. The daughter knew that she couldn’t run from the pain of others and saw that she couldn’t run away from self-inflicted pain either. The daughter was heartbroken as she didn’t want this for her own daughter now that her daughter had a daughter of her own.
Watching history repeating itself was more than the daughter could bare and she vowed that she would find a way to change the future. For the sake of her mother, who was no longer living, her daughter, her daughter’s daughter, and finally for herself. She didn’t know how she would do this, and she was determined to end the cycle because she knew it was important for all daughters beyond her. The daughter knew that healing her own heart was the key to healing her mother’s heart, even though she was no longer living. She knew that healing her daughter’s heart gave promise for a loving relationship with her daughter, her daughter’s daughter and future generations of daughters to come.
In her twilight years, the daughter is taking a stand for herself, for her mother, her daughter, her daughter’s daughter, and future generations of daughters, so they are free to express their love for each other from their hearts. For the first time in her life, the daughter had found forgiveness for her mother, her daughter and herself. She trusts that the wounds within her heart have finally healed, once and forever, for all daughters past, present and future.