In the family tree, there is no relationship quite like that of mother and daughter. As ishshahs, we are not all a mother, but we are all someone’s daughter.
No two – or two million – mother-daughter relationships are alike. They cannot be nor should they try to be. But it certainly raises the question – What then should they be?
The answer to that is as varied, complicated and/or blessed as there are relationships – or not. Each is uniquely a life journey in itself.
Since I’m not here to offer you a psychology degree in the feminine psyche, allow me to share a bit from my own journey befitting Her Journey. You may recognize some similarities to your own passage, either or both as a mother and a daughter. Or, yours may be diametrically opposite or perhaps a blend of both.
In any case, in some fashion the Lord brought about our beginnings from the roots of mother and daughter.
Growing up’s rites of passage cover a multitude of layers and themes, awakenings and threads, grace and mercy, love and tears. It also includes wounds and hurts, shared and unshared pain and resentment, and differences of opinion and perspective. How can it not when two like yet separate individuals collide in every area of life they do or don’t spend together, starting in the womb?
Both at Ishshah’s Story and Shammahs Field, we are keenly aware that some readers didn’t grow up with their biological mother or suffered abuse at their own mother’s hand. We also know there are ishshahs who are close to their moms, some of whom have developed healthy relationships and others bordering on becoming or producing mini-me’s. The following nuggets from my own life experience are prayerfully offered, trusting Holy Spirit to reveal and lead each reader’s heart to truth that accomplishes His loving intentions and purpose.
It is well-known in psychological circles and beyond that the first five to six years of life set much into a child. If we take an honest look, most of us don’t need to read a dissertation to know that is a fact. We are living proof.
The reality that we are here today is a nod to that someone who was a primary caregiver in our diaper days and on into toddlerhood. It may have been our biological, step, foster or adoptive mother, or a select guardian.
Few there are who remember the first years of life from birth to three or four years old. Sometimes we rely on the one who mothered us to recall for us those early days until even her memory begins to fade. At times, the stories are not as personal for us until we become older and begin to embrace our own life story.
My first clear memory is somewhere about four years old, with one special ‘memory snapshot’ of my paternal grandfather who died when I was only two. That one is simply a gift from the Lord, for my memory from birth to four is largely composed of ‘short stories of Nancy’ as told me by my mother, herself now 85 years old.
Reams have been written and are currently blogged about raising children of the daughterly kind. Mothers everywhere across the world have the privilege and the hard work of raising up daughters. It requires fortitude and the ability to keep going when sleep deprived and battling one’s own emotional state at any given time.
It matters not if they are only tiny little girls. They have hard-wired into them the budding of a woman. Regardless of whether they are two months, two years, or two decades old – they’re connected to mother.
But they are also their own unique person growing through seedling, leafing, and budding stages of their life.
Early on, their health and safety, training, protecting, loving, nurturing needs are found and rest on ‘mama’.
Another proven psychological certainty is this:
Babies, beginning in the womb, become a barometer of their mother’s emotional and mental phases. We now know they hear, sense and feel. Though still developing, they are nonetheless very aware – soaking in mother’s sadness, laughter, anger, stress, contentment…a powerful few among the many emotions of life.
By the time of its birth, baby has had several months’ lead in detecting the emotional atmosphere. We’ve come a long way in discovery of the things that have never been a mystery to our Creator when He knit us.
‘The Sponge Effect’
In my elementary school years I became more aware of my mother’s way of meeting and embracing life. This is where my memories become more distinct. So much so that I have imprinted in my mind’s eye various times I took note of her reactions and responses and adopted them as my own. Later, I coined it ‘the sponge effect’.
When operating in a negative manner, I made childlike determinations as to what emotion should be displayed when; which male leadership I should and should not regard; what was fearful (water over one’s head, so I never learned to swim), among others. It was only when I reached adulthood it became evident. To me.
True, a sensitive nature is part of my makeup; not everyone absorbs quite as deeply as others. But don’t think for a moment there is no absorption going on. All manner of beliefs, judgments, and inner vows begin here.
Equally impacting were the things that brought her joy. I love fresh flowers because I grew up with rooms full of small bouquets from our yard. Make my bacon crispy and serve real butter. Eat a good breakfast. Share a sense of humor! Learn to love and study the Word of God. Create things. She crafted beautiful wedding cakes for nearly thirty years. I often craft with words. Watching her, I learned a strong work ethic of excellence…and what to do when a sheet cake hit the pavement upside down (have a backup in the freezer). There was usually a solution to be had.
Just as the ocean is full of various kinds of sponges, I think ‘the sponge effect’ impacts us all in varying degrees. It is a fact of life that none of us experience mother-daughter relationships in exactly the same way. But there is a constant factor Who does not change – even as we continue to.
Same Song, Second Verse
My maternal line is a mix of mother-daughter relationships. My mother was the only daughter sandwiched between two sons (her brothers). Her mother (my maternal grandmother) died at 56 when my mother was a young woman not quite 37 years old. The loss of her mother while both of them young, went internally deep. My grandmother died before her mother; another loss as my great-grandmother grieved her own daughter going before her. My mother’s experiences with her mother and grandmother helped shape her sponge effect.
Connected to my line are my two sisters; I am the youngest of three daughters. We all grew up in the same household, yet our adult years have proven that no two – or three – mother-daughter relationships are alike. We each are unique daughterly offspring of our mother. Shared memories with some similarities, yet different.
When I became a mother my generational line lengthened. I first bore a son, then two daughters. True to form, no two – or three – mother-daughter relationships are alike, including my own with my two daughters and my daughter-in-law. Last but not least, at present my maternal line includes our 5-year old granddaughter.
In each unique relationship and every daughterly heart there is hard-wired the budding of a woman.
For many of us, God’s love was first made manifest in the mother-daughter relationship. Where that has not been the case, He has revealed His love through others placed in our lives in those formative years. Even when one has felt most alone, someone has held us in their heart, not the least of whom is our heavenly Father.
Though our earthly life started with a mother and a daughter, Father fashioned His eternal outcome in such a way that each would only be completed in relationship with Himself.
Mother or daughter, we are all His beloved ishshahs. Two like yet separate individuals, in Him.