Mothers and Daughters - A tale of finding each other

Mothers and Daughters - A tale of finding each other

30th August, 2005 - 2:00 PM

*Scene - Bedroom with strewn clothes and bag. Loud-mouthed, teenage, self-proclaimed diva engrossed in The Half Blood Prince*

Ma - “You’re a mess. Maybe try and keep things at the proper place when you’re back from school?”

Teen Diva - “I have better things to do.”

*Ma lays down food and disappears with a knowing smile*


Mother-daughter is an oft eulogized, little understood relationship. Popular media mostly paints it in two prominent ways, the best friend mom or the guide/mentor mom. However, like all relationships, one between mothers and daughters is not static but constantly evolving. It is not merely the human counterpart of a relationship aging and maturing, but the emotional one as well.

The construct of a “mother” in society despite the waves of feminism is wrapped in ideas of sanctity, purity and perfection. Mother is idolised as the human replacement of God, personifying selfless love and sacrifice. However, in highlighting their Godliness, we often forget their human aspect - just as flawed and prone to common frailties. More than that, we tend to forget that mothers themselves were daughters, and daughters may in the future come to play a certain maternal role as well (whether to a child, sibling or even a pet).

As daughters grow, they begin to see their mothers as women. They come to empathize with their struggles and daily challenges. With every new phase in their lives, from first period to first love, getting a degree to getting a job, to losing sleep, friends, lovers or having a child of their own, our mothers start reflecting in us. Adolescent hysteria of never turning into your mother is common. She is controlling, dominating, won’t let you out after 8, and constantly policing your phone calls. Fights result in spiteful comments if your mother allows a tantrum or just silent sulking about never growing up to be them for the tiger mum variety.

The realization that we may be slowly becoming more like our mothers takes time. The gradual transformation often goes unnoticed for the longest time. It is unlike the instant recognition that you have your mother’s eyes, or your “hello” on the phone is exactly like hers. In our teens, our mothers relive their youth through us, wishing fervently for us to not make the same mistakes; and as daughters track their treacherous journeys through adulthood, their mothers become a source of calm and advice. Zadie Smith writes poignantly, “Mothers are urgently trying to tell something to their daughters, and this urgency is precisely what repels their daughters, forcing them to turn away.”  A mother-daughter relation is anything but simple. It is an arduous task to objectively look at our mothers and even harder to accept that we may be like them.

Daughters don’t become clones of their mothers. They are still two completely different persons but in the closely entangled lives we lead, mothers’ certain attributes, their determination or will, their ability to love or their hot temper seeps in through cracks. A mother may have been a home-maker and the daughter a corporate leader , yet the daughter may inherit the same passion for running companies that her mother had for having the best backyard in the neighbourhood. While they are completely different domains, and one may even find the comparison ludicrous, one can still point out the commonalities. The same care and attention with which she mended her treasured dahlias, the same ingenuity with which she preserved her heirloom tomatoes from gawking sparrows are translated into her daughter as she fosters her companies and employees.

Daughters are not remnants or merely edited versions of their mothers. However, they hold in them, resemblances and the lessons they learnt. Mothers are the emotional roadmaps that daughters carry within themselves. It is often those who have known both who see the parallels the earliest. Daughters, for the longest time, stay bereft of the knowledge as parts of their mothers come to house in them till an event triggers that acceptance that one’s present is an analogy of her mother’s past.


30th August, 2016 - 2:00 PM

*Scene- Teen diva has metamorphosed into beleaguered management student. Hostel room with part-time classmate, full-time friend with predisposition of living in a mess*

Teen Diva/ Beleaguered soul - “You’re a mess. Maybe try and keep things at the proper place when you’re back from college?”

Full-time friend - “I have better things to do.”

*Teen diva a.k.a. beleaguered soul attacks a pile of dirty dishes with a nostalgic smile*

Prerna Trehan (Author)
Part-time Teacher, Full-time Feminist, Slogging through a PhD 

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