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Daughters

  • I shall be glad to see thee back, daughter, for I miss thee dreadfully. I wish I did not! I was taking a nap in my chair today, and I thought I heard thee rustling thy papers, and I looked over at thy table expecting to see thee, and alas! thee was not there, and it was dreadful.

  • ... all daughters, even when most aggravated by their mothers, have a secret respect for them. They believe perhaps that they can do everything better than their mothers can, and many things they can do better, but they have not yet lived long enough to be sure how successfully they will meet the major emergencies of life, which lie, sometimes quite creditably, behind their mothers.

  • 'Daughter' is not a lifelong assignment.

  • Being a daughter is only half the equation; bearing one is the other.

  • There is nothing better than to have a daughter and to love her. She is on your side forever.

  • I fear, as any daughter would, losing myself back into the mother.

  • Mothers and daughters have always exchanged with each other — beyond the verbally transmitted lore of female survival — a knowledge that is subliminal, subversive, preverbal: the knowledge flowing between two alike bodies, one of which has spent nine months inside the other.

  • We are, none of us, 'either' mothers or daughters; to our amazement, confusion, and greater complexity, we are both.

  • I am happy in a daughter who is both a companion and an assistant in my Family affairs and who I think has a prudence and steadiness beyond her years.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • to John Adams (1777), in L.H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family 1762-1784 ()
  • ... I think mothers and daughters are meant to give birth to each other, over and over; that is why our challenges to each other are so fierce; that is why, when love and trust have not been too badly blemished or destroyed, the teaching and learning one from the other is so indelible and bittersweet. We daughters must risk losing the only love we instinctively feel we can't live without in order to be who we are, and I am convinced this sends a message to our mothers to break their own chains, though they may be anchored in prehistory and attached to their own great grandmothers' hearts.

  • But what mother and daughter understand each other, or even have the sympathy for each other's lack of understanding?

  • I love you so passionately, that I hide a great part of my love, not to oppress you with it.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1671, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 1 ()
  • I bore you and I nursed you, you were flesh and blood and bone of me. / I toiled for you and loved you, but you've gone from me and grown from me. / Oh, once you were my little maid, but now you've travelled far. / For it's a grown woman, a grown woman, and a stranger that you are.

  • I love my daughter. She and I have shared my body. There is a part of her mind that is a part of mine. But when she was born, she sprang from me like a slippery fish, and has been swimming away ever since.

  • Our mythology tells us so much about fathers and sons. ... What do we know about mothers and daughters? ... Our power is so oblique, so hidden, so ethereal a matter, that we rarely struggle with our daughters over actual kingdoms or corporate shares. On the other hand, our attractiveness dries as theirs blooms, our journey shortens just as theirs begins. We too must be afraid and awed and amazed that we cannot live forever and that our replacements are eager for their turn, indifferent to our wishes, ready to leave us behind.

  • Women who outlive their daughters are orphans, Abuela tells me. Only their granddaughters can save them, guard their knowledge like the first fire.

  • The separation had never really parted Mary and her father; they had never lost the habit of each other. You see those sympathies sometimes between father and daughter: inarticulate, usually, like the speech of rock to rock, but absolutely indestructible.

  • As she grew older she naturally spent more time in her mother's company; but it might fairly be said that the acquaintance did not ripen.

  • O my son's my son till he gets him a wife, / But my daughter's my daughter all her life.

  • The Polish ladies are very vigilant over the conduct of their daughters ... in some districts (which is perfectly ridiculous!) they are forced to wear little bells, both before and behind, in order to proclaim where they are and what they are doing.

  • The relationship between a mother and her daughter is as varied, as mysterious, as constantly changing and interconnected as the patterns that touch, move away from, and touch again in a kaleidoscope.

  • There's no discounting the antagonism the average woman feels for the eldest daughter. The infuriating thing is that most mothers blame the daughters for their hatred when it's just what makes the mother pig eat her first batch of young. Of course one can't tell them that.

    • Mari Sandoz,
    • 1933, in Helen Winter Stauffer, ed., Letters of Mari Sandoz ()
  • When daughters lose their dads, a special link with reality has been severed. Your first protector/disciplinarian/myth-maker has disappeared from your life forever. You're no-one's little girl any more.

  • Mothers ... would do anything to steer their daughter the right way. It is frustrating beyond measure for them when a daughter screams, 'You don't understand, and you'll never understand!' The mother stamps her foot in aggravation, but in this case the daughter is right: the mother doesn't understand. She merely remembers, and memory is separate from experience.

  • My idea of success was to be a boy — possibly because my brothers, Leon and Arthur, were my father's pride and joy, whereas he had to be introduced to me several times before he got it firmly planted in his mind that I was part of the family ...

  • There is a place where women are buried in clothes the color of flames, where we drop coffee on the ground for those who went ahead, where the daughter is never fully a woman until her mother has passed on before her. There is always a place where, if you listen closely in the night, you will hear your mother telling a story and at the end of the tale, she will ask you this question: 'Ou libéré? Are you free, my daughter?'

  • Through you / I had a vision / of life / different from yours.

    • Chungmi Kim,
    • "Daughter/Mother Dialogue" (1980), in Karen Payne, ed., Between Ourselves ()
  • ... the mother's first job is to raise a daughter strong enough to outlast her.

  • Of all the haunting moments of motherhood, few rank with hearing your own words come out of your daughter's mouth.

  • A daughter is a mother's gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters' role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships.

  • Dear Mother: I'm all right. Stop worrying about me.

    • Anonymous,
    • papyrus letter of 17-year-old Egyptian girl at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ()
  • Probably there is nothing in human nature more resonant with charges than the flow of energy between two biologically alike bodies, one of which has lain in amniotic bliss inside the other, one of which has labored to give birth to the other. The materials are here for the deepest mutuality and the most painful estrangement.