Growing up, I didn’t have a bad relationship with my mom, and I never questioned that she cared for me. She was always there for me when it came to my soccer games, dance recitals, or color guard competitions but our relationship felt surface level.
I can remember several times as a kid I would ask my mom a more personal question, nothing too embarrassing, but normal for a ten year old to ask her mom. I’m sure one of my questions was: “How did you get my little brother out of your belly?” But with questions like these my mom would get very awkward, shy, and embarrassed, and she would just change the subject. This made me feel like I should not talk with my mom about personal stuff, so I didn’t bring those things up.
I didn’t realize how surface level our relationship was until I would go to my friend’s houses and they would have real conversations with their moms. By real conversations I mean conversations that go past “what did you eat for lunch?” or “do you have any homework?” It opened my eyes to the fact that I had never had a conversation with my mom where we talked about our struggles or what we were feeling.
Our relationship stayed this way until I was nineteen years old.
My parents and I took a trip to a college I was hoping to transfer to. We drove the ten hours to get there and spent two days visiting. While we were there, I heard a lecture about the benefits of not having sex until you are married, which brought up a lot of my personal regrets that I hadn’t waited.
My mom had no idea that I had already had sex. Not only that, but that my ex boyfriend was sexually and verbally abusive. I kept these feelings inside since I didn’t feel like I could be that personal with my mom—until I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.
Half way back home from that trip I had a break down at a rest area. We were grabbing some food before getting back on the road, and I just started crying. I couldn’t hide how I was feeling anymore. I told my mom about all that was bothering me, all the things that had happened in my past. Her response not only shocked me but changed our relationship forever.
I could tell that hearing about all of this broke her heart and that she was struggling with how to respond. Usually if something like this would make her shut down, get embarrassed, and change the subject. But this time she didn’t. This time we kept talking.
Not only did I share my heart, but she shared hers too!
She was hesitant to start sharing, but once she started she became very candid and honest. She started sharing about tough times she had with an ex boyfriend in high school. She started opening up to me about her struggles and hard times she went through, things I’d never heard before. She mentioned she dated a guy in high school who was belittling, something I had experienced as well with my ex. Although her struggles were not as severe as mine, the fact that my mom was opening up at all was mind blowing!
Our relationship grew by leaps and bounds through that conversation. I knew it wasn’t easy for her to admit and share her past. Not only did she show she could relate to me, but she trusted me enough to open up about her struggles. Just her opening up to me and being there for me was all I needed for us to be closer.
We have only grown closer and closer since. It has been a learning process for both of us. But as I grow and mature she feels more and more comfortable sharing her struggles, current and past. And she has become someone that I can turn to during life’s challenges.
That moment in the car showed me it’s possible to grow a close mother–daughter relationship. That doesn’t mean our relationship is perfect, but I know we are in this journey together. Our relationship has grown so fast, I wouldn’t change that moment on the road for anything.