While watching Grey’s Anatomy this past week, they explored the mother/daughter relationship in one of their ancillary storylines. Certainly an exploration of this relationship comes up from time to time since title-character, Meredith Grey, is the daughter of a famed surgeon with whom she had a challenging relationship.
But, in the most recent episode one of the patients in the hospital is an older woman having some medical issues. She’s in the hospital accompanied by her grown daughter who lives with her and takes care of her. The mother and daughter are first seen yelling back and forth at each other (“do they have to yell at each other like that,” one hospital staffer asks). It turns out, though, that the mother is almost deaf and refuses to do anything about it (like wear a hearing aid or learn sign language), so this is the only way they can communicate…how fitting is that? And, of course, you can see the daughter’s utter frustration about her mother’s stubbornness on this issue.
As TV medical drama luck would have it, dreamy Dr. “McSteamy” discovers by chance that he can restore this mother’s hearing. Cool. The daughter, while feeling like she has wasted a good part of her adult life taking care of her deaf mother, is now elated to realize that she can move out and go back to living her own life again.
She thinks her mother is sleeping while she tells this to the doctor, but her mother now hears her and tells her daughter that she was really never taking care of her, but, rather, the mother had “let” the daughter move in after her difficult divorce because the mother was helping her! Interesting twist. How often do our mothers drive us crazy when supposedly just trying to help us?
And what about the total lack of communication between this mother and daughter? Neither of them could ever tell the other what they really wanted or needed. Instead, they played this little game of “I’ll do for you what I think you want and then resent it when you don’t appreciate it.”
I see this all the time with a friend of mine and her mother. Neither one will really say what they want so no one gets what they want. They both just continue to be hurt by the other, the air never gets cleared, and there is no resolution. While they do love each other, ironically they keep feeling rejected by the other. My friend and I talk quite a bit about strategies for improving their relationship and small steps seem to be occurring. Hopefully they can continue to work on their relationship and over time they can learn to talk to each other more about what they both really want and need.