Sunday, July 25, 2010
Mothers and Daughters (and oil and water, and Israel and Palestine, and...)
One day while driving home from work, I called my friend Kyle in tears.
"My daughter hates me."
"If it makes you feel any better," she said, "I have two daughters. Double the hate. In fact, I made [honey] kosher chicken noodle soup last weekend and she gave me shit about it."
"We're Jewish, but [honey] is orthodox. She only eats kosher. And she has to have her kosher food made in separate pots and pans and served on separate dinnerware. I make [honey] kosher chicken noodle soup every Friday night to make sure she'll have something kosher to eat for the weekend."
"Wow. That's really nice of you."
"Except for the fact that I was chopping the carrots and celery with my bare hands, which made [honey] wretch and gag and proclaim me disgusting."
"I know! I feel horrible!"
A couple of days later, I was telling my boyfriend about an incident with my daughter. "You know," I said, "this sounds like hyperbole, but going through cancer was easier than living with a teenage girl who absolutely hates me. No matter what I do, it's wrong. And not only is it wrong, I am wrong. Everything about me is disgusting, including my voice, my appearance, my beliefs, my approach to life, my relationships, my job, everthing. When I was in treatment, I may have been scared to death and tired, but my own sense of self-worth actually increased."
"When you had cancer, you probably thought, there's an end to this," he said. "With daughters, it can feel interminable. You lose them for about four years, and it's an agonizing four years."
I don't know when this tumultous mother/daughter relationship will resolve itself, and sometimes in the moment it feels impossible to repair. But the one thing I do know is that all I have is this day, this moment in time when I have the absolute luxury and honor of angsting about my relationship with my daughter instead of worrying about my post-op drain. Or my sore post-chemo arm. Or my post-radiation narcolepsy. But this morning as I sit at my kitchen table wearing embarrassingly old pajamas with unhighlighted hair and unmanicured nails, drinking coffee out of the mug my daughter gave me "just because" when she was nine, I am beyond grateful.
ps: feet belong to another, hipper, mom and her daughter