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Morphing into your Mother

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Margaret
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Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
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Post by Margaret » Mon April 26th, 2010, 12:12 am

And women have problems with fathers, and men with mothers, as well. Enough stories there for an infinite number of novels!
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Mon April 26th, 2010, 1:54 pm

Amy Tan has certainly made a decent career out of writing about mother-daughter relationships.

I had a very uneasy relationship with my mother. I loved her, know she loved me, but we weren't comfortable with one another, and she certainly never had any faith in my abilities (can you imagine being a daughter or son of a parent who only sees your good qualities as negatives?). I was the youngest, and by the time I hit my teen years the only one left at home. She had cancer, had grown very over-protective and neurotic (had always been an intensely private and aloof person, anyway, some of which I've inherited) by that time. Though my family knew what was happening, no one was ever willing to help me deal with her, as she was understandably sick... then she died, and well, there were all those "bad" feelings to live with over resenting a dead person. My brothers and my sister knew a different mother than I did, and it has always been a source of distance between myself and my family. I recognize a lot of qualities in me that are my mother, but I hope never to morph into her, nor ever make my daughters feel about me the way I felt about her. Okay... that's enough heaviness for today!

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Margaret
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Posts: 2440
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Post by Margaret » Mon April 26th, 2010, 4:00 pm

I've read that it's harder to get over the death of a parent when the relationship was a difficult one - you have the whole relationship to mourn, not just the death. It was certainly true for me and my father. Fortunately, it's possible to find healing even after the other party has passed away.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Jemidar
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Post by Jemidar » Mon April 26th, 2010, 9:28 pm

I've been estranged from my mother for about ten years now (my choice) and very much believe it has improved our relationship, which sounds weird I know, but when we have to speak now (eg death in the family etc) we are much more tolerant of each other and she a lot less critical.

I had spent so much of my life trying to rebel and break away from her, and not be what she expected me to be, that one day I realized, along the way, I'd lost myself. Now, I'm free to be me and can just get on with my life. For years though, I still looked over my shoulder as if she was still there, but with time, I got used to it being just me...and now I wouldn't have it any other way!

And yes, you do mourn for the relationship or what might of been...I know I did. The place within me that my parents, under normal circumstances, would've filled has always been empty and there is nothing else that can take their place. You only have one biological mother after all. But as I've got older, the hole is less gaping and with our estrangement I've been able to mourn for what might've been and come to terms with it. Now I can talk about my mum and remember who she is and why she is without the bitterness and resentment creeping in.

Mind you, when I had a argument with my teenage son a couple of months ago, and found myself sounding just like my mother, I was absolutely appalled. Her values have never been mine (I've consciously fought them my whole entire life) so it seemed unbelievable that they should've popped in just then! Needless to say, my son didn't appreciate it much either.


Jenny

"Well-behaved women rarely make history."
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Tue April 27th, 2010, 12:37 am

I find myself saying more things that my father said than my mother. The biggest one of all being: "Because I said so."

I may morph more one way or another when I'm older. Don't know right now.

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Telynor
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Post by Telynor » Tue April 27th, 2010, 6:12 am

It is scary, isn't it? I try to use some of my writing to help tap off some of the anger/rage/bitterness that I feel about my mother so it doesn't bleed over too much in my life. I've learnt enough in therapy to know that the memories will never go away, but I try to turn an awful situation into some writing fodder. After all, "if you can't bury the skeleton in the closet, you may as well dance with it." -- George Bernard Shaw.

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Jemidar
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Post by Jemidar » Tue April 27th, 2010, 8:16 am

When I was writing, I found that all my heroines had hideous mothers and difficult (if not twisted) relationships with them. Never failed! Didn't mean to, it just happened. In the end I stopped writing because I wasn't prepared to put it out there. I just had to let it go.
Jenny

"Well-behaved women rarely make history."
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue April 27th, 2010, 2:12 pm

I'm not morphing into my mother at all. She's 94 and still around, and we are now friends, but it has taken 40 years of hard, becoming-adult work to make that happen. When I look at my Mom, I see the effects of not letting go of bitterness -- in her case, towards her mother, my grandmother, whom I never knew. That spread into a pattern that poisoned her life. But she is sloooowly changing, at least around me, because I use ordinary horse-training techniques on our relationship -- which is to say, reward what you want, and ignore/discourage what you don't.

I owe many things to my mom. She worked very hard to get a teaching degree in history from UC Berkeley, at a time when few people of either gender graduated from college. And she is responsible for all my sibling's lifelong love of both history and reading. When Mom isn't being bitter, she has the ability to laugh at the situation, the half of her temperament I have always admired and purposed to adopt. Mom is of an ADHD type that experts who study the field define as 'overfocused', as am I. That can be an asset or a curse -- my Mom has made it into the latter, refusing to get over the deaths of my two brothers or the subsequent long, bitter divorce.

And she still snipes at my faith rudely and regularly; she believes in nothing you can pin down but gets very hot under the collar when I say I was raised an athiest. Nowadays I understand that Mom's problem isn't that she doesn't believe in God; it's that she is still stuck there at age 13 and is MAD at him. News to her: when all a child hears growing up is how stupid religion is, plus a generous and daily dosing of everything the Christian church in particular has done wrong through the ages, athiest is what you get. When she found out I'd become a follower of Jesus, you'd have thought I joined a cult. It's been 35 years, and she still isn't resigned to it. Although she admits that the results are tolerable.

The one who is becoming like my mother is the younger of my two surviving brothers, who shares the family home. Bitterness galore. My two sisters have purposely stayed as far away as possible.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Tue April 27th, 2010, 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3556
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue April 27th, 2010, 2:32 pm

Funny thing, I just thought of this in reverse--is your daughter becoming you? My daughter, now 30, and I are very close, and in many ways very much alike. She even likes to joke about her husband, "I SO married my dad!" But then we laugh, because that is a high compliment.

We spent the weekend together at a renaissance faire, something she has dragged us into kicking and screaming, and I was watching her manage a difficult emotional situation with another guildmember deftly and tactfully, much better than I would have done, being more the bull-in-the-china-shop type. So in that she is going forward from a better foundation.

My Mom received from her mom the determination that it is up to us to change our world for the better. She passed that on to me, (although how I go about it sometimes appalls her). My daughter (and sons too) have picked up that torch; she is the one who has dragged us from focusing on relatively privileged American homeless women to the issues of global slavery and justice.

But none of the kids go out llama packing as adults. What did we do wrong? :confused:

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2440
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Post by Margaret » Tue April 27th, 2010, 3:43 pm

"if you can't bury the skeleton in the closet, you may as well dance with it." -- George Bernard Shaw.
Love that quote!

It's such an irony when kids pick up a parental trait but express it with a slight twist that horrifies the parent. I'd like to feel that the world is evolving into a more tolerant, compassionate place. Sometimes I think we are slowly doing this, one parent and child at a time. A good novel often does its bit as well, I think.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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