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Mothers & Daughters - Staying Connected

So How Do You Bond With Your Daughter? Here we are being moms, working moms, stay at home moms, running around, taking them to activities, family events, play dates, or as my 14 year old calls it “hanging out”, everything that we do from morning to night, the list goes on. Then, consider the times you have when there’s down time, or consciously making time for just mother/daughter quality time. If you have more than one child, do you spend that time together with both, or do you separate your time with each child? How do you work on keeping that connection with your daughter?

Over the last 14 ½ years, I can honestly say that I try to find different ways to bond with both of my girls. Being that they’re both so different in personality, I find ways of keeping that connection with my daughters no matter what that connection might be. And it’s not always easy because of activities, events, schedules, etc. It could be a night out having dinner, or a day excursion, like ice-skating (they love skating with me since they know that’s all I used to do on the weekends growing up in New York City!). Whatever time I make with them, I try not to question the integrity of my connection with my girls. I need to be honest so they can trust. If there’s no trust, then they won’t come to me. If they don’t come to me, then they can’t confide in me. And if they can’t confide in me, we’ve lost our connection. Completely.

I was a product of divorced parents. Even though they shared custody, my connection with my mother was very rocky. My mother and father had a very volatile relationship and my mother often put me in the middle of their arguments. Despite my unhealthy and tumultuous connection with my own mother, it forced me to use my past experiences to help me understand the true meaning of connection with my own children. The last thing I want is for history to repeat itself.

My very own existence living in the present means I now have to be fully conscious and aware of the relationship with my daughters. Undoubtedly, we fight, argue and debate about both the ridiculous things and the important things in life. Both of my daughters have cried to me on occasions, saying “I hate when we fight.” It tears me apart on the inside when that happens. I think, am I good enough? Do I do enough? Am I there for them enough? My self-doubts keep me awake at nights sometimes. But at the end of the day, I know deep down that I cannot love them more than I already do. And no matter how long it takes, we find ways of bringing it all back together.

There are days when I feel like my daughters hate me and want to be away from me. After all, I’m “annoying, repetitive, forgetful”, the list goes on. But like many teenage kids, they need their space. Away from mom kind of space. I totally get it. I needed it when I was their age. Maybe I’m pushing too hard or trying too hard. I know they’re craving independence and want to stand on their own two feet. The last thing I want is for them to feel bitter, angry and resentful towards me. The real reason - I think it’s because I’m truly scared shitless of losing that connection with them. I lost it with my own mother. And I never got it back.

There are no dress rehearsals in life. This is it. I have one chance to work on finding and keeping a connection with my daughters. If I lose it along the way, I may never get a chance to get it back. So I expose myself to them. I tell them stories of what my relationship was like with my mother when I was their age. They listen intently. They ask me questions. I try my best to answer without getting into too much detail. My father told me before he died, “don’t push the girls away, like your mom did with you. Be honest and open with them. They can tell if you’re lying. Don’t dwell on the stupid stuff. Stop judging. Love them unconditionally.”

My dad was right. Connecting is about accepting. It’s about loving. Unconditionally. And listening. Listening carefully to our kids (even when we don’t want to). This is my learning lesson in life. If I’m going to connect at all with my daughters, I need to hear what they have to say. Nurture what we have. Fight less. Laugh more.

Thanks daddy.

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