When my mother was diagnosed with a progressive illness six years ago, I just wasn’t ready to deal with it. I remember sitting outside the hospital in Galway after getting the news and I felt totally paralysed. I immediately started to panic. Had I been a good enough daughter? Would I have enough time to do the things I wanted to do with her before she died?
I was overwhelmed by the fear of losing her and I knew that there had to be other daughters who were feeling the same way. So I started asking other daughters the following questions: Do you have a mother? Are you afraid of her dying? Do you think you’ve been a good enough daughter?
Their reactions quickly told me that I was hitting a nerve but I knew I needed help if I was going to delve deeper. Here enters my collaborator, Róisín Ingle from The Irish Times. Róisín had her own daughter issues as she felt she was far too reliant on her mother. She knew she needed to be more independent and really wanted to do something about it. After a call-out in Róisín's column which read: "If you are a woman and you would like to improve your relationship with your mother before it's too late..." I was honestly shocked, probably naively so, by the level of pain, stress, guilt and frustration that poured in over email.
It further confirmed for me that there was a need for some type of network where daughters could come together to talk about their mothers. And so our impromptu, informal self-help club was formed – The Daughterhood.
We got together once a month in my house in Dublin to share our mother stories and to commit to doing a few things with our mothers over the following months. We had a wide variety of daughters in our group from the daughter who hid behind the sofa every time her mother came knocking on the door to the daughter who felt that she was a constant disappointment to her mother. And we also had the full range of emotions. Despite the fact that some of these relationships were irreparable and that some of the daughters would struggle to do even one thing with their mother, The Daughterhood evenings were deeply moving and, at times, utterly hilarious. Who would have thought that a whole night spent talking about your mother could be such a great night in?