Category Archives: Mothers & Daughters

Am I Destined to Become My Mother?

Like many daughters, I have felt the familiar anxiety that I am destined to become my mother when I hear my mother’s unique brand of criticism, that I so hated hearing when I was a girl, come out of my mouth. As a teenager, I vowed that I wouldn’t be like her. I didn’t want to inherit her way of finding fault or being critical of other people. So, in those moments when I hear her words come out of my mouth, I worry that I am powerless against my destiny to become my mother…

Read the full article on Huff Post Women HERE

Rosjke Hasseldine is a pre-eminent mother-daughter relationship specialist, international workshop presenter, and writer. Rosjke has developed a way of mapping a woman’s mother-daughter history that connects women to their female roots, changes inherited patterns, and understands what it means to be female.

In this blog post she writes about how the answer to ‘Am I Destined to Become My Mother?’ is both yes and no. She explains how daughters unconsciously inherit their mother’s traits and beliefs, and how daughters can avoid inheriting the disempowered parts of their mother with love and understanding.

Learn more about Rosjke’s work at www.motherdaughtercoach.com

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Mom Hits the Bar

I headed down to Florida for a recent holiday and decided to extend my stay so mom and I could spend more time together.

When mom and I are together we slip into our routine banter. Sometimes it does get loud between us and not all the words shared fall into the touchy, feely category. Let’s just say, we don’t keep anything in. When they made mom they completely forgot to put in a censor, but they did put in a quick-wit which was apparently programmed to be unleashed later in her life. As the journalist from Psychology Today said, mom is a “geriatric shock jock.” I could not have said it better. Mom is a party girl, always has been. I remember in my childhood my parents coming home from an affair, mom tipsy and spending quite a bit of time in the bathroom barfing and whatever else you do when you are drunk and sick to your stomach. It wasn’t uncommon for mom to climb on a table at a wedding and start dancing. Dad always said he married a wild woman. Unfortunately, as I recall dad was not amused by my mom’s behavior at these public events. He was pretty pissed off and always wanted to leave. Mom was in no rush.

Standing on a table and dancing with a little booze in her system continues until today. When mom turned 90 we made a party for her in a respectable restaurant on Long Island. Wearing a bright pink boa, mom managed to find her way to the bar and climbed up. She stood on the bar dancing and waving her boa in one hand and her drink in the other. If you don’t believe me, we have video to prove it.

Since dad died eight years ago, mom lives alone in her gated community in Boca Raton. Her social life puts mine to shame. She is up at seven and at the athletic center, where she does thirty minutes on the stationary bicycle, and one hour of schmoozing and swapping stock tips. Then it’s home to do some puts and options. I have no idea what that is other than I often hear her say, “I just made a thousand dollars.” And sometimes, she does some travel work like booking her cronies or family members on a cruise. Mom owned a travel agency in New York for many years. Then it’s time for lunch with the girls at the clubhouse. After lunch she goes to work. What is work? Work can be mahjong, canasta, bridge or pam. That lasts until Happy Hour at the club where she is known to enjoy her drinks and friends. Mom brags what a good driver she is even when she has had a few drinks. It’s all smiles and laughs. Needless to say, I am not particularly amused by this behavior, seeing the potential consequences of it. Sometimes the night ends after happy hour at the Club House where they offer lots of delicious free hot food. Other times she heads to a restaurant for dinner with friends.

Mom has taught me how to go out to a restaurant and meet people. The key is to have your dinner at the bar, and it’s preferable to get there early so you can sit in the middle — a good position to be in in order to meet people. During my recent visit mom and I decided to head out for dinner. She had coupons in hand and couple of options. It was either Bonefish for $5 Monday night martinis or Duffy’s, a sports bar where all entries were $12.95 on Monday. I opted for the second. You can see I am not a heavy weight drinker. There were two seats but separated by an older distinguished looking man. I asked him if he minded moving. A quick response, “No,” then followed by ” I am only kidding.” He moved. Mom made sure she took the seat right next to the gentleman.

What proceeded to happen I never thought I’d see in my life.

Mom in Action
Mom in Action

My mom and dad had a way of pushing each other buttons. I can’t say I recall seeing mom being tender to dad much, if at all. Mom in her ninth decade (hard to believe, she does not look it or behave so… yes, I keep hearing I have good genes. I am so grateful!) filled with chutzpah and charm starts engaging the man. As she was speaking to him she was putting her hand on his, leaning her bare forearm on his bare forearm — talk about body language. He was smitten by her. She revealed how she usually spent Monday nights at Bonefish and since she has lost most of her friends she often goes alone. He informed her in a very flirtatious way that she risked being picked up going alone. Let’s just say I am sure they will be meeting next week at Bonefish.

When mom went to the bathroom, I had alone time with him and got the scoop. He was curious to learn what I did and I shared about our film. Mom was gone for quite a while and he missed her. “What happened to you?” he asked. I did manage to get his info (need to be sure mom is safe). Mom must be 10 years older. He fought in Korea, not WWII. I always said she needed a younger man. When we came home, I told her I was excited for her. She said that most of the men she goes out with “can’t get it up.” That was a shock to me (not that they can’t get it up) but that she was dating. When I asked her again, she denied she was dating. All I can say is, I was there at the beginning and she will have a hard time hiding this. I’ve got his number. Will keep you posted.

Read the original article published on Huffington Post POST50 HERE

 

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Mom’s Entrance

Mom was visiting with me recently. At 91, she is a phenomenon. When she is at home in Boca Raton, by 7:00 a.m. she is at the athletic center — they never call it a gym in her gated community of Boca Pointe. Pointe spelled with an “e” at the end, don’t forget it. After 30 minutes on the stationary bicycle, it’s coffee and schmoozing with her fellow alta kakers (old farts). Then home to trade stocks, perhaps do a put or an option. Don’t ask me what that is. I only know that she reports occasionally to me when she has made some quick money.

Then it’s time to shower and get ready for lunch at the clubhouse with the girls before she goes to work. What is work? Work is canasta, pam, bridge or Mahjong. She promises she is not losing our inheritance… and is at times increasing it. When Dad was alive, she got him into playing the slot machines and you could find him alone or the two of them together at the penny slot machine casinos found in the strip malls of southern Florida. That was, in fact, where dad had his massive stroke, which led to his death three weeks later. It is often said he left this world doing something he enjoyed.

Mom has always been sprite and quick-witted, with no censor. I always heard her say that if her mother were in the United Nations, we would be in WWIII. Funny enough, most people would say the same about her. Oh no, is it true that the apple does not fall far from the tree and I, in fact, have many of the same traits? I will leave that to you to decide as you get to know me more.

Sunday was Mom’s last day staying with me before she was heading out to Long Island to spend the next several days with my brother, his children and grandchildren. We decided to have breakfast before we parted at her favorite local coffee shop. She made sure we got there in time for the breakfast special. Her order? Two basted eggs. (“Do you know what that means?” she asked the waiter each time. “Dry whole wheat toast, black coffee and cranberry juice.”) Sometimes she gives me the juice, since she often does not drink it.

We enter the restaurant with her rolling overnight suitcase. The small, compact coffee shop was packed. There was one table for two available, but mom was concerned about where we would put her suitcase. Although it would be possible to squeeze it in under the small table, we would not have much room for our feet. Mom eyed a larger table inhabited by a man, probably 10 years her junior, sitting most likely with his wife, holding cash in his hand. Mom immediately, in a loud voice, commands the waiter, “Take his money!” And let us all know how much better suited his table would be for us than the smaller one. The man did not appreciate Mom’s comment and announced, “I am digesting my food!” After about 10 more minutes, the man was paid up and leaving with his wife, but not without sharing his opinion about Mom. Saying in a loud voice to her as he was leaving, “You shouldn’t be so rude!” Mom responded with, “What did I do?” And that’s a typical story about Mom. She has no idea what she has done and continues to behave the same way. If she were a child, we would laugh. However, many struggle to see her actions as adorable. It took me a close to a lifetime to get there.

Read the original article published on Huffington Post POST50 HERE

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Mother Daughter Conflicts

To trace the sources of mother-daughter conflicts, we usually found out the conflicts revolve around tiny issues, such as mothers’ maundering, daughters’ disobedience, etc. Conflicts between mothers and their teenage daughters are common, and the conflicts last till daughters’ adulthoods. From daughters’ perspective, they view mothers’ words as criticisms, but from mothers’ point of view, those words are kind suggestions.

Gayle Kirschenbaum’s conflict with her mother in LOOK AT US NOW, MOTHER! was not as simple as daily mundane criticisms such as “Your room is too messy”. Her mother criticized her nose and put endless efforts to make her have a nose job. However, the nature of their conflict is the same: Gayle viewed her mother’s words as criticisms, but her mother believed having a nose job is a kind suggestion. People have different thoughts, opinions, ideologies, etc. so it’s very hard judge who’s right and who’s wrong.

In Elizabeth Bernstein’s article, I’m Not Your Little Baby!’ Calling a Truce in Mother Daughter Conflict, she offers several useful tips to keep the peace between mothers and daughters, which resembles the suggestions that Gayle offers in her documentary. Here are the ideas:

  • Explain your intentions
  • Examine the past
  • Examine what you are really fighting about
  • Examine your contribution
  • Explain your anger
  • Be willing to be vulnerable
  • Find something fun and mutually satisfying
  • Imagine a satisfying relationship

To sum up these tips, the key to resolve mother-daughter conflict is simple: communication. Mother and daughter should communicate their thoughts and think from each other’s perspective in order to understand each other. However, to really do so is a hard step. Mothers and daughters should put efforts in communication in order to achieve and maintain healthy relationships. Bernstein’s article is worth reading to all parents and children, as well as Look At Us Now, Mother! The personal documentary takes you to a visual journey of how intensive mother-daughter relationship alleviated.

Happy April!

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Referrence: Bernstein, E. (April 24, 2012). ‘I’m Not Your Little Baby!’ Calling a Truce in Mother Daughter Conflict. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303592404577361903649660464

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Mother Daughter Me

Katie Hafner is a journalist who has written for The New York Times on healthcare and technology. She has also worked at Newsweek and BusinessWeek, written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Wired, The New Republic, The Huffington Post, and O, The Oprah Magazine. She is the author of five works of non-fiction including Cyberpunk and A Romance on Three Legs.

In her latest book, a memoir, called Mother Daughter Me, Katie writes about when in the summer of 2009 she invited her 77-year-old mother, Helen, to move into her San Francisco home with her and her teenage daughter Zoë. Katie was hoping her mom would stay a year. A few months later by springtime, her mother had moved out.

In Katie Hafner’s first personal narrative, she comes to terms with her difficult childhood and accepts the mother that she never quite had forgiven. Katie talks about how her mother when Katie was growing up was a single mother with alcoholism and neglected her children eventually leading her to lose custody of her two daughters. Katie and her mother then begin therapy to resolve their issues.

Make sure to check out this honest and engaging memoir!

Reference

Reese, Hope. “‘Mother Daughter Me’ by Katie Hafner.” Boston Globe. N.p., 18 July 2013. Web. 14 Aug. 2013. <http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2013/07/18/book-review-mother-daughter-katie-hafner/qOPkFy4zb5VCjJsdr3J41K/story.html>.

 

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Watch What You Say

This morning, as I was looking through my Facebook newsfeed, I stumbled upon a Huffington Post article titled The Day I Stopped Saying ‘Hurry Up.’  I was more intrigued by the title of the article than anything else, so I clicked it and began reading.  This article was not what I was expecting, and it fits in perfectly with what LOOK AT US NOW, MOTHER! is trying to shine a light on: parental abuse towards children.

This mother, in short, talks about how she likes to stick to a schedule and be timely.  Her young daughter, however, is not like that at all.  She likes to take her time, and never seems to be in a rush.  Time was never of the essence for this little girl, who was trying to enjoy the simplicity of what we like to call life.

So the beginning of the article is going through how the mother was living her life vs. how the daughter was.  She then brings up the day that she stopped saying “hurry up.”  She was picking her daughters up from school, and all of a sudden, she saw a reflection of herself in her older daughter…and realized that she had been bullying the younger daughter into rushing through life so that she could keep to her schedules.  In the article, this was a powerful moment to read.  After the incident, the mother ultimately realized that this was no way to raise her daughters, and changed her outlook on life.  Readers, I highly encourage that you read the article.

So, what’s the lesson behind all of this?  Watch what you say to your kids and how you say it.  Even though you think your approach is the logical one, you won’t know how your child is reacting to it, unless it’s evident.  Luckily for this mother, she was able to see a reflection of herself in her older daughter and was able to fix the solution.  Kids are impressionable, and rely on their parents to be their role models.  Parents, set good examples for your kids, and treat them the way that you would like to be treated in return.

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The Importance of All Relationships

Relationships, one of the many things that’s highlighted in Look At Us Now, Mother.  As we all know, relationships play a major role in our lives.  I read blogs, articles, books, and seen movies about all different kinds of relationships that humans have.  There’s the relationship you have with your friends, families, pets, significant others, bosses, co-workers, etc.  You name it, you have a relationship with it.  What I want to know is why each relationship we have with someone or somebody is significant or important?  (Mind you, as you read this , this is all based on what I’ve seen, read, and experienced from personal events of life).

To answer my own question, I started looking at the various types of relationships I have, and picked three to highlight.  I’ll start with Friends, because that’s always a good place to start.  Friends are nowhere near as annoying as your family members.  They help enhance your social life, by going to dinner with you in a new environment, or even introducing you to new people.  If you don’t want to talk about something with a family member, you most likely turn to your best friend, or closest friends.  Friends have been by your side for either a short period of time, or since you were both in diapers practically.  This type of relationship is important because you can classify some family, significant others, and even co-workers into this category.  You can have a lot of friends, whether it’s an acquaintance, close friend, best friend…the term “friend” is broad.  A friend will most likely always be there for you when you want to get away from everything, that’s what I’ve learned.

Significant others.  Either a lovely subject that makes your heart smile, or a hateful subject that fuels the fire for your hatred towards the person.  Whatever it may be, this relationship normally plays an important role in how you feel and what your mood is on a daily basis.  You wake up and fall asleep next to them, and if not, you always hear from them first thing in the morning and last thing at night.  To be corny, they “mean the world to you,” you “love and care about them so much,” and you “have never been made happier by anyone else.”  Your heart melts when you think of this person, and you would do just about anything for them.  So why is this relationship significant?  In my opinion, you want to share the most precious moments with who you claim to be your “other half.”  You will experience the most beautiful things in life with this person, and cherish them forever.  However, if things fail or succeed with this person, you grow and learn from the experience.  Trust me on this one.  This person will become part of who you are and who you become, and that’s one reason why this type of relationship is important.

Family.  You have your mom, dad, sisters or brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents…the list goes on.  These people are with you in your life the day you’re born, and nothing will change that.  Even if you’re adopted, that new family and extended family will always be in your life, and that’s one reason why this type of relationship is the most important of them all.  The love you have for one another will be unconditional.  Yes, you will have tough times and hate them for brief periods of time, but that’s life.  We also may have a great relationship with one parent and not the other.  Your bond with these people is unbreakable.  Here’s an example of a family relationship that was nowhere near great, but with hard work, it became powerful:

Look At Us Now, Mother! takes a look at Gayle’s very unique relationship with her mother.  Although their relationship wasn’t great when Gayle was growing up, she and her mother are now best friends because family is inseparable.  Gayle’s mother was not kind to Gayle while she was growing up, and once convinced her to get a nose job.  Now they’re best friends and are mending their once broken relationship.  There’s no way to describe it, but families work in weird, but wonderful ways.

The moral and message of this blog is to emphasize how important each relationship in your life is, and how important it is that you cherish each relationship you have.  You will never realize what you have until it’s gone, so cherish it like you would an unhatched bird egg.  Family, friends, significant others, co-workers, bosses, the list can go on and on, but these relationships will play a key role in how you live your life.  As humans, we thrive on relationships with people to learn, interact, and not go certifiably insane.  So here’s my advice: don’t isolate yourself from anyone.  Build up your existing relationships, and even start some new ones.  Get out there, be a social butterfly, and enjoy your life with the people that matter most to you.

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Finding Christa

Gayle Kirschenbaum is making a film about her highly-charged relationship over the years with her mother called Look At Us Now, Mother! Camille Billops made a documentary called Finding Christa (1991) about her relationship with her daughter Christa. The difference is that Christa was adopted when she was four and Gayle was not adopted.

Giving Christa up for adoption was probably Camille’s hardest decision to make, but when her lover refused to marry her, Camille felt compelled to give up her daughter. Christa was adopted by professional singer Margaret Liebig who becomes a very loving parent.

This movie could have easily been called Finding Mom because Christa thought very much about finding her natural mother. Her adoptive mother Margaret encouraged her to search for her birth mother. Through the help of ALMA, in 1980, 20 years after being adopted, Christa found her mother in New York City.

Finding Christa has a running time of 55 minutes and contains a combination of home movies, dramatic sequences, and interviews with family members. The movie is written, directed, and produced by Camille Billops and her husband, James Hatch, a professor of theater at City University of New York.

In addition to Camille and Christa, the cast includes Christa’s adoptive mother; Christa’s adoptive siblings; and Camille’s aunts, uncles, and cousins.

References

Canby, Vincent. “Reviews/Film Festival; Documentary of Mother-Daughter Reconciliation.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Mar. 1992. Web. 08 May 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/24/movies/reviews-film-festival-documentary-of-mother-daughter-reconciliation.html>.

“Finding Christa.” Sundance Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2013. <http://history.sundance.org/films/484/finding_christa>.

“Finding Christa.” Third World Newsreel. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2013. <http://www.twn.org/catalog/pages/cpage.aspx?rec=756>.

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