Sydell Weiner, PhD

Mother–Daughter Love

Mother-Daughter Love

Mother-Daughter LoveI’m taking my morning walk through the beautiful hills of Palos Verdes, with the ocean spread out before me. If only this majestic landscape could translate into the texture of my life. But I am thinking about my daughter and our recent conversation is circlilng through my head. In spite of the gorgeous view, I forget that there is something bigger than my own fearful thoughts.

My daughter Emily is mad at me. She’s 37 and a mother herself. Yet from the moment she was born she could send my emotions reeling just from a look, a sharp word, a nasty remark or a loving comment. She’s upset because she thinks her brother has been favored in a family inheritance. It doesn’t seem fair to her and I’m trying to figure out what to do to make it feel right.

“Emily, trust me,” I tell her when she phones me on my walk through Palos Verdes. “It will even out in the end and everyone will inherit equally.” But when she tells me she’s mad at ME, I can’t help feeling abandoned. It reminds me of how I felt when my mother died. I was 14, and terrified that no one would be there to take care of me. Because I was a child, unprepared for her death, it was so much more than grief. I felt like she deliberately left me and somehow I must have been at fault.

After Emily’s phone call, I spend the day in and out of crying jags. I’m scared that my daughter, whom I love more than my life, will no longer love me and I’ll be forever alone. I speak to my son, I speak to Howard, my ex-husband, and they both jump to my defense. Howard is especially helpful. “Do not give her money because you want her to feel better,” he says. “I’ll talk to her and smooth things over. Don’t worry.” My son winds up calling Emily too, and reassures me that they had a good conversation and she’s fine.

When Emily calls me the following day, she is much sweeter than she was on my morning walk. My shoulders start to relax and I’m sure she is going to apologize. Instead she says, “Mom, you need to calm down. Just give me a minute to be upset. I’ll get over it. I’ll never NOT talk to you. I love you so much, this just seems unfair.”

I hear her out and reassure her that’s there’s plenty for everyone to live happily in the end. We laugh when I start making fun of how she always says, “…when you die in like 25 years…” She tells me no to talk about dying, and I get it. She’s scared that I could actually die someday and that it would be more than she could bear.

And then I ask her for what I need. “Em, sweetheart, just talk nice to me. When you raise your voice or blame me, it breaks my heart. I’m 14 years old again and afraid I’ll lose the one person who means the most to me in the world.”

Finally she gets it. “I know I can be harsh. I’m sorry, Mommy.” “It’s OK, sweetie, I love you, I love you, I LOVE YOU!”

Sydell Weiner, Ph.D.