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Complex relationships

"I can't believe it! I'm becoming my mom," I thought. I remember the feeling I had at that moment as if it were yesterday instead of a decade ago. It wasn't the "where did that come from?" question almost every adult woman has asked after uttering something that could have been channeling her mom-often something she had promised never to say! This was different, more of the essence of my mother than what she said.

When that happened, I was preparing to get some work done as I settled into seat 1B. Then the flight attendant started telling me what was going on in her life. She shared very deep feelings, and I was flabbergasted when she revealed so much of herself to a complete stranger.

That was just like my mom, who could make friends with the person in the grocery line, whose smile absolutely required that someone smile back. I discovered there was more of Mom in me than I had ever considered before.

Families are complex entities. They are a source of happiness and despair; joy and disappointment. They have the capacity to validate all that is right and good, and on the flip side, they can make you feel miserable-on purpose or inadvertently.

Nowhere is it clearer than in mother-daughter relationships. I found that women recognize the power of these relationships and that when someone asks herself about how she feels about those connections, she can make some profound observations about, and changes in, her life.

Here are some questions as you consider your grandmother-mother-daughter relationships:
• How happy are you in that relationship?
• What is the best part of your relationship now? Why?
• What do you anticipate will be the best part of your relationship in the future?
• What about your grandmother, mother or daughter makes you most proud?
• What would you change about your relationship?
• What do you wish you could tell your grandmother, mother or daughter that you are uncomfortable talking about?
• What are your grandmother's, mother's or daughter's goals and aspirations distinct and separate from their relationship with you?
• What would you say you regret most about your relationship?
• What do you think is the primary attitudinal gift women from earlier generations gave you?
• What do you think is the primary tangible gift women from earlier generations gave you?
• What, if anything, has your mother done to inspire you?
• What, if anything, has your mother done to limit your expectations?
• Would it be possible to share how you feel with your grandmother, mother or daughter? Why?

Just addressing some of these questions-the ones that strike you the most-can heal relationships and help you appreciate your mother, grandmother and daughter more. You may improve your relationships and improve your own self-image. You may be able to say "thank you" or "I'm sorry" and move on to a better life.

Go for it!

Patricia Cameron lives in Minneapolis. This is an excerpt from her book "Pass the Torch or Torch the Past: How the Voices and Values of Three Generations of Women Can Help You Illuminate Your Path To Greater Happiness." Used with permission. FFI: www.patcameronconsulting.com

Editor's note: Where did you find your voice? Tell us about it. Send a paragraph to editor@womenspress.com


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