What I want you to know about the struggle to have the mother-daughter relationship I know I’ll never have

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by an anonymous reader.

I had a great upbringing. Two successful parents with good jobs, living in a good house, good neighbourhood, we got to go on family vacations every year. I was a lucky child in many ways. My parents provided basically everything for me, but also taught me the value of hard work and made me work for what I wanted.

I was a good student, had decent grades, and stayed out of trouble all through public school and high school. I got my first job in grade nine and worked every weekend and even some school nights. When I got my driver’s license my parents gave me my own car. I definitely struggled in high school trying to find the right group of friends and that balance between hanging out with the “cool” kids but not wanting to do the things they did (drugs, alcohol and sex). I turned out to be a good kid. I say that honestly, even though my parents might not agree. They have no clue the paths that I could have easily taken many times...

In high school, I had the crazy idea to go outside of my comfort zone and push myself to try out for the rugby team. I made it and was so proud of myself. They got up at the crack of dawn and drove me to every 7 am practice, but I remember only my dad came to one game the whole season. Then I went on to university to successfully graduate with a degree, and continued on to complete a post-graduate program and landed my career today.

Through all my accomplishments along the way my parents were there for me and, for the most part, in their own way supportive, however we’ve never had that close relationship I’ve always longed for. I can count on one hand the number of times my parents have told me they’re proud of me, and on two hands the number of times they’ve told me they love me. Through all the struggles of growing up, transitioning to a young woman, and now a grown-up I’ve never had a heart-to-heart conversation with my mom. Ever. I've never cried to her about a broken heart, or been given advice about relationships. I don't even think I've been embraced in a warm hug. I feel like she doesn’t even know who I am on the inside. While both my parents have provided for me (financially and tangibly) more than I could ever ask for, a mother-daughter bond is all I’ve ever really wanted. I’ve tried, and I’ve tried and I’ve tried.

Apparently my mom had some “hard” type of upbringing, but I’ve never been told much. It’s always “when your old enough I’ll tell you”. I’m almost 30 and we still have never talked about it. My aunts and uncles seem to have great relationships with their kids and families, so I’m at a loss for how harsh it could be. I know my mom and her mom have never had a great relationship but as I get older I wonder why my mom ever chose to break that cycle. Even when I was struggling with the choice of where to go for university and what program it was always what she wanted me to do. I remember thinking for myself don’t you want me to chase my dreams and do what I want? But then again, she wouldn’t even know what my hopes and dreams are.

In all I’ve accomplished nothing has ever felt “good enough”. It makes me sad. Very sad, that I’ve never had a mother-daughter relationship with my mom. It’s affected me in many ways but I’m still working through those struggles. It also scares me. How do I know I’m going to be able to break the cycle when I have my own children? How will it be natural for me if I’ve never experienced it? Only time will tell.

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