Laborious Love- A Story of a Daughter & Her Mother

After 6 years of waiting and 9 months of growing, the little girl that Christa and Leon wished for was born; the year couldn’t have concluded more perfectly. Leon looked down at his little baby girl and instantly fell in love. Christa was happy to have this addition to the rambunctious 2 boys she already had. Soon after the family returned home with their bundle of joy, the complications for Christa started. 

Scared and in pain, Christa returned to the hospitals Gynecology department. Her future hopes and dreams were crushed and she was subjected to a woman’s biggest violation, an unwanted hysterectomy. This left her beyond shocked; she still intended on having more children. She would now have to accept that her family was going to be a party of five from here on out. Bearing children, a woman’s staggering superpower and ultimate sacrifice, was stripped away from her. 

Her most unparalleled moment of euphoria was when she held her child in her arms for the first time. She says it’s the most indescribable feeling and her favorite one by far. Perhaps this initial skin to skin contact is when the bond is created between the two; something that lasts a lifetime. Now, this is something she will never be able to experience again. The devastation settles in and life goes on; after all they are lucky enough to have 3 beautiful, healthy kids. 

Their daughter was a tiny but a mighty little thing. Her big brown eyes and Shirley Temple curls undeniably pulled at the heart strings of her parents, especially her dad. She was a good girl - she followed the rules, spent hours letting her imagination expand, and created wildly exciting pretend lives. Christa was the epitome of the mom that did it all. She was an active member of the PTA, washed and folded clothes, had dinner ready nightly for her family, and did whatever it took to make sure her children did not want for anything.

Fast forward years later; the result of hormones and an independence seeking teen led this mom and daughter to face the quintessential resistance and heightened emotionality that most do. Little things turned into full blown arguments, rules were intentionally broken, and the repugnance between the two continued to grow. By this time, the boys were out of the house and the family was getting smaller and smaller. The reliance on mom was diminishing and her one true identity was being compromised. 

In order to help with the abruption, Christa started working full time. She had always had side jobs and contributed to the finances, but nothing that would get in the way of her biggest priority; raising her children. Now, she was a part of the 9-5 workforce. In unfamiliar territory with a less than pleasant boss, she found her escape through alcohol. The stresses of her apathetic husband, bitchy daughter, and dictatorial boss quickly vanished after having a drink. Just one to take the edge off. Completely normal and responsible. After time, the socially acceptable amounts were no longer blocking out the realities of her day to day life, and her childhood adversities were appearing from the suppressed hole she was taught to stuff them in. 

As you can imagine, the mix of mood swings and margaritas was a destructive combination for Christa and her daughter. The two continued to engage in conflict and the contempt grew. Leon was not a viable resource for de-escalating their ongoing battle; as he was dealing with his own inner struggles. His baby girl who was pure magic and innocence was growing into a woman while simultaneously becoming distant from his wife. He spent endless hours burying his emotions in the garage. That was his alcohol of choice. Every now and then he would break up a fight between the two, play devil's advocate, and then disappear back into his man cave. 

This made Christa furious because although they made decisions together, she was viewed as the bad guy and Leon was let off the hook. She saw the relationship and respect start to grow between her daughter and husband, while her and her daughter’s was deteriorating by the minute. The daughter felt some jealousy and backlash from her mother for the budding of this relationship. She began to feel like the woman who gave her life was starting to loathe her. The daughter never shared with her mother the guilt she felt for technically being the reason her mom couldn’t continue to reproduce. Their relationship was so different from the ones she witnessed between her friends & their moms. 

The tension started to simmer as the daughter was now in her twenties. After living on her own with her fiancé, she started to see why her mom would react to certain things, such as leaving a towel on the bathroom floor, or dismissing the mess made in the kitchen. She was now responsible for her own household and understand how these things she once thought were minuscule actually had a bigger representation in the overall picture. She was also financially on her own, and when she would get her measly paychecks every other Friday, she was overwhelmed with gratitude for the struggling her parents had to endure to make sure she went to prestigious private schools her entire life. 

The aggressive attitudes toward each other were finally at bay, but there was still something hindering their mother/daughter relationship. All the moments depicted in the movies that were supposed to be special were lackluster. “I love you’s” were rarely exchanged, and the oppression that was put on her mother by her grandmother in regards to expressing feelings was very apparent when it came to saying how much you loved someone. 

Things started to turn with the passing of Leon. One thing the daughter could honestly say, is nothing was left unsaid with her dad. They created amazing memories together and he knew how much she loved him. This was a major contributing factor as to why she seemed to be at peace when he died. Yet, this was not something she would be able to say if it was her mother dying. She wanted her mom to know that regardless of all the contention, she loved her and respected her more than she would ever be able to put into words. . She admired her strength & thought she was beautiful, yet she was afraid to ever be a mother herself, because she didn’t want to repeat this vile cycle.

The real blossoming of this relationship occurred at a time least expected. The daughter was frightened to share with her mother that her marriage was failing. Her husband at the time, even assured her that Christa would be on his side, and she was going to receive all the backlash. He led her to believe she most definitely brought this on by not being the loving, supportive, demure housewife she should have. To their surprise, Christa supported her daughter and the bond between them started to thrive. She finally felt like her mom was proud of her. They became extremely close and their communication flourished. To this day, the daughter doesn’t truly think her mother knows how much she loves her, how every single effort made by her mom is appreciated and acknowledged, and how she thinks her mom deserves more than one day a year to be celebrated. 

I know this story because I am the little girl. I am Christa’s daughter.

Ashton Saldanamother