Yesterday, we were talking about our moms and one of the women asked me when the last fight I had with my mom was and I think it was seventh or eighth grade. Which is not to say that we haven’t accidentally bumped up against each other emotionally since then, but an actual “We’re having problems because you won’t shape up” fight?
Not since I was a pre-teen.
It made me feel like there’s a whole realm of female experience, a whole way of understanding one’s self, that I, and thank goodness, haven’t ever experienced.
I’ve been trying to think about why that is and I think, in part, it’s because my mom doesn’t really understand herself the way that other mothers do. I don’t think she necessarily understands me emotionally–or ever has, really–or expects me to understand her in some intimate emotional way. She’s my mom. I’m her daughter.
I don’t know if I’m getting at this right, but I think being a mom for my mom has been a straightforward thing, a thing that happened and now just is. She worries and frets and shit, but she doesn’t doubt it.
But I see from the outside that other women have these really entwined relationships with their moms, where there can be secret support and secret betrayals and such. We just don’t have that. My mom has never expected something (whatever that thing might be) in return for being my mom.
So, that’s nice.
On the other hand, it has me thinking about the ways we construct these kinds of essential ideas about what it means to be a woman, based on these universal woman experiences, with a kind of expectation that how womanly you are is based on your participation in these shared experiences, and those experiences aren’t available to a lot of women.
Which, in this case, woo hoo! I’m glad to not have a fraught relationship with my mom.
But it does make me think about the ways we construct womanhood and the forms we put people in so that they’re recognizably female.