Photo: Elite London Events. Mother of the Bride dress by Juliette Michele Marie Model: me
I do not have a daughter, I have a son. I am very happy to have him, I love him to bits. I only wish I had a daughter when I receive the occasional casting call for a commercial asking for 'real mothers and daughters'. The advertising industry is keen on authenticity, so couples have to be real and 'mothers and daughters' have to be real too, possibly alike. Is it not good enough to rely on acting skills? Oh no. "The wish of the client" is for the genuine item.
But apart from such (sporadic) moments, I never particularly wanted any child of mine to be of a particular sex. I was happy to have a son but I would have been equally happy to have a daughter. At the time it was entirely out of my hands. Possibly in future one will be able to manipulate DNA cells to decide on a particular genetic make up for one's children, including their biological sex, but that will not be during my life time. Honestly, I don't think I would be interested in it if it were available. But the point is that it is not, so let's end all speculation here.
However - and I hope I am not sounding like a total idiot, I do (did) have a mother - we all do, duh! So my experience of the mother and daughter relationship has been as a daughter.
As it's Mother's Day, today I have been thinking about my mother. I sometimes (but not so often, I will admit) think of her even when it's not Mother's Day. She died two years ago, at a very old age. She had lost her ability to speak because of a cancer that had spread out to her brain. She was in a pitiful state, death was a welcome relief, callous though it may sound to say so. That's not the way I like remembering her at all.
On Mother's Day one is supposed to pay gushing tributes to one's mother. Without in any way wanting to be misunderstood - I loved my mother and am grateful for everything she gave me - it is important to acknowledge that not all women are cut out to take on the role of mothers, that the mother-daughter relationship is at times very entangled and uneasy and one which often needs to be healed. There is much ambivalence and tension that one has to learn to let go of, a 'legacy of hurt' that has to be confronted without giving way to recrimination.
There are some good books out there which might help the healing process if one wishes to engage in an exploration of one's own mother-daughter relationship. I have personally found Mean Mothers by Peg Streep very balanced, but there are others.
Perhaps together with the chocolate and flowers, daughters might want to throw such a book in, as a gift to one's mother, on Mother's Day. Or read it themselves, if their mothers, for whatever reason, cannot be reached.
Happy Mother's Day!