The mother-daughter relationship is one of the most complex I have experienced. And, although my mother died relatively young in the mid 1980s, I still wrestle almost daily with whether she was a destructive or strengthening force in my life. My father, who passed away about five years before my mother, rarely gets on my emotional radar screen. Neither does my older sister, who also died relatively young, right after 9/11.
In her column in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Elizabeth Bernstein chronicles some of that. Of course there are so many of us females who speculate, even in social gatherings, how much smoother or better our lives would have gone had our mothers been more motherly from the get-go. Instead of shaming the speaker for being stuck in the past, we tend to listen up.
Our external and internal debates about the role of our mothers in how our lives have gone are much more frequent that the what-ifs about had we been born into wealth and influence, gone to better schools, majored in something different, or even didn't let that proposal go.
Full Disclosure: I decided not to have children not because of my stormy relationship with my mother but the genetic legacy from that eastern european part of the family.