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Mothers and daughters must surf some choppy waters to stay in love....(approx. 700 words)

Submitted:Jun 2, 2012    Reads: 57    Comments: 4    Likes: 1   

Mamma Mia!

There was a movie back in 2008 by this title, told through the lyrics and music of the Swedish pop band ABBA. I did not see it, but I saw it advertised often.

The gist of the ad campaign seemed to be to tie mothers and daughters together by the music, and draw them to the theatre. I don't know if it worked. I was a single man, so the ad was not aimed at me.

But I do know one image that stays with me to this day. In the ad, to the invigorating, pulsing song "Dancing Queen", there was a quick video shot of apparently a mother and daughter standing in front of their seats, clapping and dancing to the infectious song. They exchange huge grins. It only lasted about four seconds, but it has lasted for four years, and counting, in my mind.


There are few, if any, relationships that can more accurately depict the potential for great intimacy, closeness and love, and yet also the possibility of strife, regret, hatred and distrust, than that of a mother and her daughter.

I've seen the whole 360 degree spectrum of this, through my sisters, my girlfriends, my ex-wives, and my ever-increasing number of adult female friends.

I've talked about it at length (ad nauseum, depending who you ask), because I am fascinated by the dynamics between women in general, and particularly enthralled with the mother-daughter kinesis.

I've arrived at some theories which, of course, almost anyone could, and maybe will poke holes in, but theories are just that. Not conclusions, not hard facts. They are susceptible to the very individual nature of each separate relationship. Whether or not a daughter is the only daughter or not shifts things dramatically, for example.

But I've grown to believe that if mom and daughter can somehow get through the tumultuous teenage years, when the inclination for most girls it to not trust anyone over 20, then the potential for a nurturing, fulfilling lifelong relationship is much more likely.

If those nasty teen years are combative and argument-filled, and epithets are thrown back and forth, words used that once audible, simply cannot be ever erased, then a bedrock solid foundation of mistrust will be all they build on as adults, and last I checked, nothing but weeds tends to come up through concrete.

Of course, there exist exceptions to the rule. For those women, I say 'nice work', because I know that's exactly what it took to circumvent the vitriolic nature of the relationship while growing up. To get past that hurt, on both sides, takes empathy, compromise and simply letting out the natural, fundamental love they have for one another that was temporarily buried beneath the "wilderness years".

So why did that four second snippet in the ad resonate so deeply with me?

Because even in its brevity, if showed the potential for an incredible bond between two women who, no matter how hard they try, will never be on equal footing. I mean, it's your MOM for Christ sake. She's changed your diapers, fed you through her body. Trust me, you'll never catch up to all that. It's simply impossible. Which brings me back to compromise. To create life long healthy relationship with anyone usually requires a level playing field. But not in this particular case. I know of some very healthy, loving, mutually satisfying mother-daughter relationships that roll over the inevitable speed bump of mom "up there", and daughter "down here". It not only can be done, it should be a goal pursued at all costs.

Sure, there can be made similar claims about the father-son dynamic, but that's a subject for another 5000 words.

Women, more naturally inclined toward intimacy and close bonding, have a leg up on men. I have been in love with more than one woman who claimed, unabashedly, that their mom was their best friend. I found that neither threatening, nor hard to believe. It was heartwarming.

Who better to be your BFF than probably the only woman alive capable of offering unconditional love?


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