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Monday, May 20, 2024

Of mothers and daughters

3 min readMore often than not, mothers and daughters are mirrors of each other. By some biological yet fateful coincidence, they usually present either the flattering or unsettling view of what the other's life could have been.
Profile picture of Francesca Maria Dela Cruz

Published 8 days ago on May 12, 2024

by Francesca Maria Dela Cruz

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Photos from ‘Anak’ (2000)

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Recently, the realization that our mothers carried us ever since they were young girls dawned on me, leaving me in a daze. As a woman grows older, her eggs decrease, and the fertility time-war is at play for the rest of her life. This indoctrination seems heart-wrenching. Are women born to give birth? Are mothers and daughters just interwoven by the hip for all eternity?

More often than not, mothers and daughters are mirrors of each other. By some biological yet fateful coincidence, they usually present either the flattering or unsettling view of what the other's life could have been.

Iliac Crest

Photo from The Parent Trap (1998)

Photo from The Parent Trap (1998)

Mothers are usually our introduction to womanhood. Most girls grow up being compared to their mothers before their voices are even formed, and the first colors we pick as little girls in the crayola box are our mom’s favorites. For instance, my mom loves blue and green, and as a kid, I colored everything in those hues, seeing the world just the way my mom painted it for me. But as I got older, and suddenly I didn’t like green anymore; I began to like shades of pink and formed my own character slowly.

Flying outside of my mother’s comforting nest of mermaid movies and doodle-filled papers seemed like a sin in the beginning. And yet, like clockwork, I realized that there were fragments of myself that were intricately braided by my mother’s psyche, and they showed up the most when I was out there in the world. One of the identity formations they are responsible for is the traits we made enviable for others, no matter how trivial or complex they are. They helped us know what haircuts looked great on us and what type of friends to avoid. They seemingly know everything, even our insecurities were partly their creation. My idea of femininity was foundationally my mom’s, and it felt like a betrayal to see the inevitable rebellion girls succumb to the moment we break from our mothers’ embrace.

As time goes on, the phrase “mother knows best” has become a double-edged sword. Their intuition seemingly defies logic, and from there, the crevasses of motherhood have gotten wider the more it attaches itself to the world. In the research entitled, Pathways of Growth in the Mother-Daughter Relationship, Bernstein highlighted that the “In the body of her infant daughter, a mother can see her own past self; the body is known and familiar, one with which she can have total identification.”

Mothers are not just the nurturing figures who come to aid us when our bellies ache, but their existence alone must serve as the epitome of femininity for their daughters, or else both of their identities crumble. An absent mother often connotes a lack of emotional depth, while an almond mom is a walking-weight police bound to destroy her daughter’s sense of beauty. It’s daunting because their words can both cut deep and yet heal the wound right after with a kiss.

Ouroborous Cycle

Photo from White Oleander (2002)

Photo from White Oleander (2002)

It’s true that there are mothers whose maternal bones seem scathed. Society loves to cage women, especially mothers to very high standards, to the point of destruction. The archetypal mom is a sacrificial and gentle figure, the calm before the thunders of your father’s voice. This picture is nothing but a dream to many, for just like anyone else, mothers come into this commitment unprepared, no matter their financial or emotional willingness.

In my case, my mother had my older brother when she was just 19 years old. This is something she’d laude about, humor the birthday parties with as she smiles triumphantly, cheering that she’s still young-looking despite having two adult children. However, behind closed doors, my brother and I knew better. Despite the affection and spoiling my mom naturally exuded, we still felt like we had to grow up fast to give space for her young musings, for her to make up for lost time.

In the same research article, Hershberg also cited Bernstien’s work; “Growing up, a daughter, identifying with and differentiating from her mother, inevitably looks toward her mother in her mind and in her life—longingly, competitively, contentiously, and compassionately.”

I was ample and confident in the things she didn’t have because right after I was born, her life thinned in comparison to the grand themes of university life, in being girls in a cramped yet cool dorm, and having random late-night drives. Her time to be in oneness with herself, to truly know what she wanted, was scrapped from her, and that is something a daughter can never truly fill.

Our view of our mothers has become shamefully black and white. It’s either you want to become like her, or her life served as a living cautionary tale. Mothers and daughters represent creation and destruction—the way we’ll grow into our adolescence and them to their old age—can lead to a whirlpool of identity epiphanies. Why that is, is because no matter how much we conceal or resent the way each of our opposing complexities, strings of ourselves will always root back to the womb.

Mother’s day

Mother-Daughter relationship

Identity

Childhood

Profile picture of Francesca Maria Dela Cruz

Francesca Maria Dela Cruz

Blogs Writer

Francesca Maria Dela Cruz is a Blogs Writer at TomasinoWeb. As your local girly-girl, she’s a writer who delights in topics that touch the heart—whether it's on identity, beauty or love, her emotions are the ink to her whims. She also adores anything vintage; so sending a message about thrifting milkmaid tops, finding rococo-style decorations or even deep-diving about female figures, then she’ll probably think you’re cupid. If she doesn't reply, she’s most likely sleeping and cuddling her bunny, Georgie. Give her a little leeway because she’s the type to write her messages on her notes app first.

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