‘No-one could ever replace you as my mother. I would do anything for you.’ SIENA, 8
‘I love my mother and everything, but it’s not cool to say that.’ AUGUSTA, 14
Those Hallmark cards have nothing on the treasured stash of home-made greetings mothers receive from their young daughters. Dive back through them, and you’re guaranteed a broad smile. We are their all, early on: their defender, their keeper of secrets and their inspiration. We can do no wrong, as they copy our walk and our talk and follow us into the toilet, just to be with us.
One of my favourite Mother’s Day gifts was a book of homemade vouchers – I received one from both my daughters when they were aged about seven and eight. Each voucher entitled me to the sweet treats I’d obviously yearned for, at that time.
Daily hugs, kisses, back rubs, quiet time, even being allowed to go to the toilet by myself. They were all promised, in a little book, stapled together by a child. Their genius was the promise that they’d never run out. I know they will.
Most teen girls – and more often than not it’s around that sticky age of 13 and 14 – will see their mother through another prism. They will no longer see her as their defender, they’ll choose to share their secrets with their friends, and home will not muster up an iota of inspiration. In your daughter’s mind, she is being consistent; it’s you who has changed. Overnight, she might even come to the conclusion that you are hell-bent on ruining her life.
‘You are the worst mother in the world,’ she may shout as the door slams on her bedroom. ‘You couldn’t possibly understand how I feel.’ ‘You don’t trust me.’ Or even, ‘Why can’t you be like the other mothers? I wish I had one of them.’ Home becomes a theatre, and mothers find themselves starring as the villain in a daily drama.
The mother–daughter relationship is as unique as it is wondrous, and no matter how bumpy those teenage years can be, it’s a union that is almost always built for life. Sometimes, within months of your relationship having been turned on its head, your kind, open daughter will return through the front door. Other times, it might take years.