My name is Hazel Davis and I’m not particularly close to my mother. There. I said it. As a female adult it’s not an easy position to be in.
As a journalist I am surrounded by positive images of motherhood. “Your mother is your best friend”, “Mum knows best,” “Blood is thicker than water”. If you’re ill, you want your mother to look after you, if you’re happy, you call mom, when you’re giving birth you want your mum to hold your hand. Your ma is your hero. She’s all you aspire to. She’s the biggest influence in your life. “If I can be the woman my mother was, I’ll have succeeded.”
To admit that you don’t particularly like your own mother or aspire to be in any way like her is to break one of the worst taboos of modern womanhood.
As a thirty-something, well-educated woman, it’s almost as bad as admitting you couldn’t give two hoots about famine. And it’s something you can’t even joke about. Crucially, it’s not something you’re allowed to not care about. If you don’t get on with your mother it must be because she abandoned you or is a smack addict. You have to be devastated by it or you have to seek to rectify it. “Because I just don’t like her that much” isn’t the said thing.
And so I have stumbled through my adult life with this strange relative, never really knowing anything about her, never understanding when people made reference to how awful it must be to live so far away from her (more than 200 miles).
It was only when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter that I started to really question our relationship. I did seek to rectify it. What had actually happened to drive us so far apart? How had we come to be so different? Were we really so different? And, more importantly, could we change our relationship or was it too late?
In a fit of pique I asked my mother whether she would consider going to counselling. And I was knocked for six when she (eventually – after years of scoffing at anyone who ever considered such a thing) agreed.
Over at www.daughtersnet.co.uk I am documenting our journey from that initial, terrifying encounter. And I am desperate to hear your stories too. Is your mother your best friend? Do you never speak? Is she an inspiration? Is she your nemesis? We all have a story to share. Please share yours!
Hazel is a freelance journalist and author. She writes regularly for The Guardian, Telegraph, Independent and others.