Of all the roles women are required to fill in this society, daughterhood is universal.
Is there a daughter who didn’t devolve into tears after having watched Bright Lights, Fisher Steven’s brilliant documentary on the remarkable relationship between Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, which he called “a different kind of love story?”
A woman’s stormiest love affair, its been said, is the one all daughters have with their mothers.
What tugs at our hearts watching these two Hollywood legends engage, is the gut wrenching recognition. The primal power of a mother and daughter’s aching love and dependence is exquisitely reflected in these larger than life but profoundly real women.
Glitz and glamor aside, that unique mother daughter bond, layered and loving, fierce but often flawed, punctuated by trials and tribulations is one most women can understand.
Our Mothers Daughters
My own mother wasn’t a Hollywood star though she is surely a legend in my life.
Her ofttimes off key voice didn’t stop her from singing, filling the house with equal measures of love and out of tune show tunes. Dancing was strictly for Bar Mitzvahs, and the closest she got to appearing in a movie was courtesy of a hand-held 8mm Bell and Howell home movie camera. But to me, especially as a child, she was a dazzling star, my child-like gaze followed her with the watchfulness of an obsessive fan.
In the years before I went to school I shadowed my mother everywhere she went.
I was Moms faithful sidekick. I was her Boo Boo to her Yogi Bear, Tonto to her Lone Ranger. My life orbited around my Mother and the gravitational pull was strong. Within her sphere of influence I was a contented little satellite, spinning wherever she went, my movements carefully and lovingly monitored by a watchful eye.
But the universe would change in time.
I would want to spin off into my own orbit. I might dare move into a world in which my mother might seemingly play a tertiary role. Used to being in a starring role, there were years I suspect, when Mom felt she was relegated to the bleachers, a stand-in, a mere bit player, summarily called for to appear, just as summarily dismissed.
She who was essential , whose life revolved around mine just as in equal measure I was sure mine had revolved around hers, suddenly spun out of orbit into my own world, a different separate universe, one that didn’t include her all the time.
Naturally, in time the universe had a way of spinning back to its original configuration. Once again I became my mother’s side kick, shadowing her wherever she went, attuned to her every need as astutely, lovingly and fearfully as she had been to mine.
In the end we each take our turn as caregivers, it’s just a matter of who’s watching who.
Like Mother Like Daughter
While Carrie Fisher was a teller of truth, her mother belonged to the world of myth-making. Carrie often spoke of her childhood preening for perfect pictures of her perfect family for the paparazzi.
And why not?
Picture perfect images of mothers and daughters filled the pages of magazines through much of mid-century America.
The media had a field day presenting us with idealized representations of proud mothers and aspiring daughters, always in unison, none more memorable than those covers from Ladies Home Journal that were an homage to the sweetly sentimental world of mothers and daughters.
Al Parker’s illustrations for Ladies Home Journal were well-known to his readers for decades portraying mother and daughter in identical outfits pursuing recreational activities together, whether skiing swimming, or baking always in perfect unison and in matching outfits.
The message was clear- Girls would be cut from the same cloth as their Mothers.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.