The first time I heard the song, ‘Break Up to Make Up’ on the radio, I knew that the song by The Stylistics was really about relationships. Nevertheless, when it came to me and my mom, we had this kind of love-hate thing going on in our relationship. As her daughter, I was so beautiful in her eyes when I looked the right way and as indicated by her compliments on rare occasions. In that regard, her words would be like love to me. But when my physical appearance did not measure up, I was on the outs with her, and she with me. Talk about love-hate?!?
I hate make-up – I call it intense dislike. You may ask yourself what makeup has to do with a discussion about boundaries, and the answer is everything!
I will share an excerpt from my book, ‘What Mothers Never Tell Their Daughters.’ It is about boundaries, and I will share my thoughts on it.
“I had really bad acne when I was a teenager and it did not help when I was stressed or mad at someone or upset with myself, I would pick those pimples and develop scars. In the moment of picking, I would feel good however, that good feeling was quickly followed by feelings of remorse when I’d see the pink color underneath my beautiful ebony skin.
My mother would grimace and look away with disgust and contempt whenever she saw the latest outbreak of acne on my face. Her silence was usually broken by a trickling of incessant commentary of what I was eating, or not eating, about what I was wearing or not wearing. Though I never understood what my clothing had to do with my face.
As poor as we were, she eventually got more direct about addressing my facial and body acne and subsequent scarring with expenditures on makeup. She began to spend what little spare change she had to buy me makeup. Yuck, I hated makeup!
At first, my mom would cover up my facial blemishes with foundation, and then plaster the beautifying makeup onto my face. I found out quickly that the process went a lot better if I didn’t fuss. I DID fuss though because I did not like the feeling of rejection and shame I was having on the inside of me.
There was my mother covering up my face and telling me to cover up my acne-scarred body parts so that I’d appear presentable to others; people I either knew or would potentially meet by chance in my daily travels to and from school. The last time I checked, there was no one who had any supposed importance visiting my not-so-safe section of the South Bronx. So what was the big deal about my appearance?
Regardless of the occasion or situation, the idea of wearing makeup was still a sore spot for me. Years went by and by the time I graduated from Brown University and landed my first corporate job at a Fortune 500 companies Human Resource department, I at least felt somewhat good about my ability to fix my face and not scare anyone with my appearance.
In hindsight, I did not look that bad. I wasn’t picking my skin as much and the acne was not as prevalent. It must have been a teenage hormonal thing. However, the sore spot festered. When my BFF hubby asked me to marry him, I was standing before him in my favorite tattered farmer overalls outfit. I was surprised! At that point, I realized that someone could see my true inner beauty. The capper is that he said, I was outwardly beautiful too. He expressed that he loved me, for me. I said yes to his proposal of marriage.”
When it comes to mother-daughter Relationships, boundaries are so important. Why?
As moms, it is so easy to unintentionally drink what I call the ‘societal juices’ that say to us that our children are a reflection on us, making us question if we are good enough moms.
For years during my early motherhood journey, I thought that children reflected their mom. I soon began to see that ascribing our maternal performance to the individual volitional choices of our daughters, is one of the core components of guilt-infused judgment which is unfair to moms and causes us to often question our very being.
In my opinion, our daughters are not a reflection OF us, but a reflection TO us of those things that we need to address in ourselves so that we can connect more intentionally and meaningfully with our daughters.
As I grew to understand my mother more, as I got older and worked on myself, I realized that her fixation on my outward appearance was because she had faced difficulties in her life that she had mixed feelings about but could not and did not know how to speak about them. She then placed her unhappiness or unsettledness about them on me as her way to rewrite or control her life as a mom.
She was not able to put up and maintain the necessary emotional boundaries needed between a mom and a daughter. As a result, she lost sight of me, to no fault of her own. I love my mom but because she could not see the real me in front of her, I was unable to accept and see ME for a long time.
A lot has changed, however. I am now through almost 30 years of marriage, and my BFF hubby has told me that it was my smile and my laugh that attracted him and got his attention. He saw me, he heard me and listened to me, and he still does. The rest is history.
My main point is, it is important for you as a mom to see and hear your daughter.
Remember, no mom is an island, and we as moms need a community. We need mentors in our lives who can share with us the wisdom that is within them. With that in mind, remember to find out more about The Conflict 2 Closeness™ Mom Mentorship Circle in my free Facebook group, @MotherDaughterConnectionsFB.
© Dr. Michelle Deering | All rights reserved.