Am I My Mother’s Keeper?

In the Black community, there is no one more sacred than mama. And with good reason. Most of our mothers are superwomen: making a way out of no way, sacrificing their dreams for ours, playing the role of mother and father with little support. They deserve our praise, but this exaltation comes with a heavy burden for some daughters. There is an expectation in the black community that mothers and daughters should be the best of friends. But this simply isn't the case for many of us. In fact, some of us stifle our needs as daughters in order to maintain the appearance of being BFFs with our moms.

RelatedNot All Mothers are Worthy of Praise

What we, and the Black community, need to understand is that we can have healthy mother-daughter relationships that aren't friendships. Some of us have nothing in common with our mothers. Some of us have mothers who are loving, beautiful people, but who are nursing wounds so deep that they create chasms in their relationships with us. Would you be best friends with someone who you didn't share common interests with, or who wasn't supportive of you?  Of course not. Yet many of us try to force ourselves into that role with our mothers.

This situation is aggravated by the fact that many of our moms are single, and don't operate in a social circle that fills their need for companionship. So the burden is placed on us. It's an impossible mission because as daughters, we can never fill the voids in our mothers' hearts, especially when we are stifling our own needs in favor of theirs. We have our own lives to build, our own waters to navigate. In many ways, those waters are treacherous in ways that they weren't for our mothers; we can lean on them for support, but they may not have guidance to offer.

The result is that many of us are emotionally armed in the presence of our mothers. Not wanting to appear as anything less than the perfect companion, we brace ourselves for the inevitable reminder of our failure to do so. This undue burden actually makes the relationship unhealthy, since both parties aren't being honest about who they are and what they can do for one another.

This shouldn't come off as an indictment of our mothers; our entire community has created this myth, and it takes all of us to shatter it. The Black community needs to understand that we can have healthy relationships with our mothers without being best friends. We need to foster stronger relationships within the community, especially among women, so that our mothers receive the kind of support that they need.

Our mothers have to stop relying on us to fill that void, and be more active about healing their emotional wounds and finding fulfillment in their own lives. And we need to stop putting pressure on ourselves and one another. We are daughters. We owe it to our mothers to be honest with them. We owe it to them to be grateful for all that they have given us, and to not live cloaked in a veil of resentment because of an unbearable burden.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Reva writes semi-professionally and semi-therapeutically. She blogs at, and she’s @sunsetsarefree on Twitter.

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