Recently I was out with a mixed group of women; some were related, some weren’t, and the age range went from mid-20s to mid-50s.
My own daughter wasn’t there with me at the time, but a few in the group were mothers and their daughters. Occasionally, I would watch them interact, and I would chuckle because I would see how very similar the dynamics between them were to mine with my own – even when they were arguing (of course, I’d be laughing more then, because I wasn’t going through it!).
It was during one mother/daughter argument that another girl in our group (mid-30s and, coincidentally, no kids of her own) made a comment about their argument along the lines of, “Look at how they are arguing. And she says she has a GOOD relationship with her daughter.”
I thought about that for a moment before I answered, because obviously every time the two of them even snipped at each other I was doing a mental comparison. Yes, still laughing.
I thought about many of the arguments I had with my own. There had been so many and they were so similar that it was hard to pick out details of one – it was like one big blur of the same, repeated argument. The cause could have varied, but the arguments were always the same; words, voice, tone.
Yet I feel like I have a good relationship with my daughter. I tell people as much, too.
I supposed if one were to witness the two of us arguing together, they might make the same assumption. Then, I realized that someone who had children would see more than just the argument.
Of course, I hate to say that to people who don’t have kids; just as much as I hate when people who don’t have children give out parenting advice.
So, I said to this woman:
My daughter and I have had many arguments like that; for a while they were quite often. And I still feel our relationship is close, because it’s not just about our arguing. There’s so much more to our relationship than that. Like any child, she will call me when she wants something or when she needs something. But she has also confessed personal things to me when she was younger – before she got caught. She’s surprised me with breakfast in bed. She’s thoughtful in her gifts. Even now, at almost 22, she calls me just as much to tell me when something good has happened as when something bad has. She shares details of her life with me. And she wants to spend time with me – not just when she’s bored or has no plans. So, we have arguments. So what? Doesn’t everyone? The bottom line is, those arguments are not what I think about when I see her or spend time with her; they are not the first thing that comes to mind when her name is mentioned.
We argue, yes. Sometimes even a lot. But we love each other more.
And that means we have a good relationship.