There’s no fight quite like a mother-daughter fight. I’m not talking about the casual squabble over the appropriate length of a skirt or a reasonable highway driving speed. I’m talking about the temperature rising, hoarseness inducing, knockdown, drawn out battles exclusively characteristic of a clash between Mother and Daughter.
Fortunately, as most daughters can attest, the height of the argument bell curve occurs during the hormone-raging years of adolescence. Hearing that there’s no wiggle room in a curfew mandate or not receiving permission to attend “beach week” unchaperoned would send me into a tizzy of melodramatic fits as a teenager. The worst part? My mother’s cool, calm demeanor – which infuriated me even more at the time.
However, that was then. When I entered my twenties, our mother-daughter arguments changed tunes. The overemotional theatrics of my adolescent behavior subsided. My anger had the same intensity, but logic and reasoning guided my actions instead of hormones and the satisfying sound of the bedroom door slamming. (As a side note, we continued to squabble over the appropriate length of my skirts as I got older, and I imagine we still would if she were alive today.)
Here’s the surprising effect that these arguments have on me now: I miss them.
Arguing with a mother – perhaps a father too, I imagine, but I only have the one reference point – is different than getting angry with a friend, foe or significant other. Generally speaking, I hate conflict and confrontation with these groups. Some people are good about raising issues and vocalizing points of view with unemotional, short, declarative sentences. Historically, I have always preferred to vent to a confidant with the unfortunate side effect of letting things fester and froth up into bigger problems.
Anyway, the thing about arguing with my mom was that there was never any anxiety before an argument. I never felt compelled to jot down notes before confronting her (like I’ve done before with friends and boyfriends), nor did I ever feel uncomfortable, foolish or shy afterward. I miss the spontaneity of our squabbles and the real-time hashing out of problems. I miss her gasps of exasperation. I miss how swiftly we could bounce back after an argument into a casual conversation about my upcoming weekend plans or a review of the most recent book she finished. After the argument, there was never any awkwardness, discomfort or concern that the tenor of our relationship had changed. How could it? She was my mother.
I don’t think I’ll argue with anyone quite like I argued with my mother, and I’m sad about that. I miss her for lots of reasons, but today, I miss my mother: my irreplaceable opponent.
I suppose the reassuring thing is that if I should be lucky enough to have a daughter one day, I have it on good faith that she’ll remind me all too well of my mother-daughter fights of yesteryear….
And something tells me if this proves to be true, I’ll live to regret the day I said that I miss these arguments. Until then, I will look forward to eating my words.