If I am emotionally compromised in any way, the Disney movie Brave will turn me into a sobbing mess. There’s something about the animation of the turbulent mother/daughter relationship that gets right to my heart.
Why is it that daughters tend to fight so hard against the “control” of their mothers? And why do mothers allow their need to nurture and protect their daughters to morph into an absurd power struggle? I certainly don’t have the answers, but I do know from personal experience that far too often my daughters’ teen years have, at times, devolved into a contest of wills instead of the time of golden opportunity they should be. The solution to the heart-wrenching problem is not easy, but it is simple. Love.
Love is the root of many of my conflicts with my daughters. Because I love them, I want them to make the choices that will bring good things into their lives. But far too often when I want to see them accomplish something, I drag them along like a steam engine, jerking through the twists and dragging up the inclines. What I ought to do is act more like an aerotow for a glider–lifting them to great heights and then letting them glide through their own flight. Love is the root emotion behind the panic when I see them falling, but what is too often expressed is the screaming anger my panic inspires. If I could realize and remember the deep love behind the panic, it might be a little easier to have the wisdom necessary to guide them as I should.
As a daughter, I often feel the need to break the proverbial apron strings and manage my own hearth and home. I misinterpret concern as meddling and advice as manipulation. If I can open my heart to the love my mother feels for me when she tries to guide me along and embrace that love instead of fighting against it, perhaps I can resist building the walls that close me off from all I still have to learn from the woman who loves me in a way no one else knows how to love me.
I watched Brave again last night with my youngest daughter. She and I have not yet entered the turbulent mother-with-a-teen-aged-daughter years. We didn’t start out the movie watching it “together.” She sat on one side of the room and I on the other. But in the pivotal final moments of the movie when I began to weep as I so often do, my “baby girl” (who is almost eight) closed the distance between us, wrapped her arms around me, and just held me. When I echoed Elanor’s movements and covered my daughter’s face with kisses, she giggled and held me closer. It was a moment of blissful emotion-filled joy unencumbered with unnecessary struggle. I hope and pray I will be wise enough to hold that memory in my heart and mind so that I will choose golden opportunity over a contest of wills, so that I will remember the love at the root of the panic, so that I will lift her up and then watch her soar.