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My Mother Myself

My Mother, Myself

In the book, My Mother, Myself, author Nancy Friday examines how "mother", and our relationship with her as "daughter", affects our rite of passage into adulthood.

From the time our "girl-child" mind begins to understand, we are taught that "mother-love" is different from all other love. It is without mistake or doubt and never wavers under the pressures or changes that come with life. This is an untruth. Mother knows it. Daughter knows it. And yet the lie goes on, perpetuating within the mother-daughter relationship a secret alliance of fakery that does not allow the "real mother" to reveal herself and foils the creation of "daughter" as a marvelous and separate entity.

The reality is that while mother would surely stand between her daughter and a speeding truck, there are times when she might not "like" her daughter very much at all. This is a very scary concept because it strikes at the very core of the mother/daughter relationship. It implies that mother and daughter are separate entities and there is much guilt on mother's part. There is a need for mother to accept her own ambivalence before she can allow her daughter to do the same. Only then can a healthy mother-daughter relationship develop.

While the author stresses the need to see mother-love in a realistic way, another focus of the book is on how the asexual perception of mother affects the mother/daughter relationship and the maturing of daughter into a healthy sexual being.

  • There is a warped sense that "good mothers" show no evidence of sexuality.
  • There is no such thing as a "bad" mother, only "bad" women, those obviously sexual ones who make it apparent that the relationship that goes on between themselves and their husbands is just as important as their relationship with their children.
  • A mother with a sexual identity surely has little or no maternal instinct. This perception of course is false and hinders not only the mother's sexuality but the daughters as well.

I recall the first formal discussion of "sex" with my mother when I got my first period. What I remember more than anything else is how she stressed that now I could get "pregnant". No particulars. Not how I could get pregnant. Just that once a girl starts to bleed, she must be a good girl or she'll end up having a baby, something I would not want to do until I was ready. As women, specifically mothers and daughters, the subject of female sexuality is often left to "work itself out". Except for the standard "save yourself until you are married" and "never let a boy touch you" the subject of sexuality seems better left untouched.

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