By: Panchi Changkakoty
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon when Samiksha first set foot in the place which she was going to call her home for the majority of her life, her Bormaa (aunt) disseminated the word of her arrival to their neighbours by shouting at the top of her voice declaring – “Guta nohoi fota he jonom hol” (this will translate to – unfortunately a girl was born instead of a boy). This made Samiksha’s mother feel almost sorry for herself that she was unable to bear a boy. Her first child is a girl, a BIG disappointment. We live in a society where it is okay to say things like that to a mother who has just given birth to a daughter. Ultimately, motherhood becomes an imposition on such women and their daughters become a mnemonic of the dreams and freedom that were seized from them.
Why do some mothers hate their daughters?
This is not uncommon but toxic relationships between mother and daughters do exist. And the reason why some mothers hate their daughters is their discontent with their own lives. Mothers are also women who drew their breath in a prejudiced society and who were compelled to do things they never agreed to. Some mothers were forced to quit their education and tie the knot early. Others were morally policed for their outgoing nature, having male friends, or for simply having an opinion against injustice to women. Some were trapped in bad marriages and were financially dependent on their abusive partners due to early pregnancies. Hence these mothers start seeing their failures when they look at their daughters and they start resenting them.
Contrary to the popular belief that they are always caring, loving, and sacrificing, mothers are human as well. They have ambitions and dreams aside from motherhood and they do get hurt when they lose them. We often forget that. We as a society have caged women into this stereotypical image of the ‘ultimate caregiver’. According to this society-a woman’s life is incomplete without marriage and children. Thus these women have the full right to express their pain and despise the people/system that has caused them such injustice.
While some mothers do not hate their daughters but their attachment becomes toxic because it is determined by patriarchal rules and restrictions that these mothers have survived through and internalized.
Is it fair to hold daughters accountable?
The crucial question that arises here is that is it fair to hold daughters accountable for what happened to their mothers. Is it fair for the mothers to impose patriarchal principles on their daughter’s life? Is it fair for the daughters to embrace the guilt of oppression their mothers have gone through or the society? I agree that it is not fair that these mothers had to go through such tribulations, give up on their dreams, and live a life that doesn’t value their happiness and self-respect. But it is equally unfair that the daughters are penalized for something they are not even guilty of. She wasn’t even born when her mother was mistreated because of her gender. Breaking generational trauma is difficult, it takes a lot of courage and if a daughter has to fight the gender stereotypes without any solid support from her own mother, she will forever be stuck in a loop. She will always be terrified and conflicted because her mother embodies the biggest roadblock in her life.
Daughters are a reflection of their mothers
It is aptly said that daughters are a reflection of their mothers. This is the reason why some mothers want to see their aspirations fulfilled through their daughters even if that requires force and pressure. I have witnessed my cousin’s sister being coerced by my maternal aunt to give up on her dreams so that she is married off to a rich guy who doesn’t even care who she was before marriage. She is the perfect reflection of what her mother always wanted in her life. She is living like a doll now, just like a mere decoration in someone else’s home. It is also possible that the mothers feel entitled to oppressing their daughters rather than interrogating the men in the house because daughters are ultimately women who should tolerate oppression quietly. What if the daughter starts internalizing this oppression and passes it on to her daughter? How can we possibly break this chain of trauma? Doesn’t this end up encouraging the toxic relationship between mother and daughter again? Doesn’t this add fuel to the fire of oppression towards women rather than putting an end to the real culprit behind it- patriarchy?
I wrote a little prayer for all the brave daughters who went through or are going through such trauma in their life. I hope courage finds you –
Bless the daughters, who planted herself,
Carrying the trauma of their mothers in their hearts.
Who sat and prayed for more love, but
not getting any, carried themselves to light.
Bless the daughters who raised themselves up. (The author can be reached at email@example.com)