Being An Older Mother Is Not Helping Me To Be A Better Daughter By Catrina Chatelain
I am the product of a teen pregnancy, having been born to an unwed, small-town, 17 year old girl easily beguiled by a sweet-talking city boy who was visiting relatives for the summer. He gave her all the props and creds to be gained from a first-time summer romance with an older, seemingly sophisticated new boy in town, and she gave him the one thing that naïve girls are apt to give to boys when caught up in the hormonal hotbed of young love…and I came along some nine months later.
My life with my mother was not easy, to say the least. My mother was an extremely driven and determined person, and did not allow her circumstances to impede her progression. She graduated from high school and college as an honor student and summa cum laude respectively, and went on to receive a Masters and eventually a Doctorate of psychology. All the while taking care of me, but as I grew to believe, not really caring for me. She did all the mechanical things the role of “Mother” requires, but it came wrapped in a coldness and distance that took me many years on the therapist sofa to stop internalizing.
I became a mother for the first time at the age of 29, but it wasn’t until my second time up at bat at the age of 38 that I really began to understand the challenges that my mother faced as a young, single mother. As a mature woman I can look back at the impatience, the quick default to cruelty, the intolerance to my normal childhood antics as what they truly were; the coping mechanisms of someone barely removed from childhood themselves doing their best to raise a child, and on top of that, doing it all alone. Coming to this revelation helped me tremendously in freeing myself from the captor that the past far too often tends to be, and allowed me to look upon that young woman that was my mother with a great deal of compassion and gratitude. However, it has not engendered the change in our present relationship for which I have longed endlessly, and much to my surprise, being a mother later in life has not made me a better daughter.
Wisdom, maturity, grace…just a few gifts that come along with motherhood later in life, and I thankfully am able to handle a great amount of the issues that arise in my parenting role with those gifts. However, I find myself still reacting to that cold, distant demeanor of my mother’s more than I care to, and being staggered by the fact that after all these years and regardless of the changes in our lives and ourselves, she so often remains the parent she was in her youth.
In this New Year, on the verge of my 40th birthday, I resolve to accept the situation as it is, because expecting her to change and perceiving the fact that she won’t as being a problem is a big part of why I am failing to be a better daughter; but coming to this realization will, I believe help me to be a better mother with each passing day. At this point in the game, I can’t ask for much more than that.