By Lorraine Duffy Merkl
About Lorraine Duffy Merkl:
Author of the novel, Fat Chick and a freelance journalist, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Lorraine Duffy Merkl lives and breathes her role as attentive mom and daughter perched inside The Sandwich Generation.
As I learn more about Lindsay Lohan’s shenanigans and fights with her mother through E!, TMZ and the New York Post, I am reminded that mother-daughter arguing is quite the time-honored tradition -- especially in my home.
Although our dustups don’t and never have involved the police, limos, large sums of cash or cocaine, my 14-year-old daughter Meg and I seem to have picked up where my mother and I left off decades ago, except with a role reversal for me.
“It’s time to get up. Will you get up? I said up, now. Get out of that bed!” Is that my voice I hear as Meg clings to the mattress, begging for five more minutes? Or is it the voice of my mother echoing in my mind? Even though I used to cover my head with my pillow, her screams that I was going to be late were never muffled.
Then there was the ever popular, “You’re eating again? We just had dinner an hour ago.” As I have been on a diet since I was 13, I recall these accusatory words as my mother’s version of encouragement to keep me on track of whichever weight loss program -- ranging from the sensible to the simply ridiculous -- I was on that week. I now use this same neurotic phrasing out of fear that my daughter will live her life riding the I’m fat, I’m thin yo-yo. As much as I try to stop myself, since I know the resent it breeds and “revenge eating” it can initiate, my emotional triggers sometimes just get the best of me.
Now, just as back then, the tried-and-true dramas always win out:
“I don’t care who else is going, you can’t. Because I said so, that’s why.” This usually involves a party where the soiree-throwing teen is just a name that’s been bandied about, not someone who’s ever appeared in person, and the parents are unknown quantities.
“That’s too much makeup. Yes it is. Go wash your face. Now. I didn’t say you couldn’t wear it. You just can’t wear it like that. I’ll put it on for you. Yes, I do know how.”
“You’re not leaving the house in that outfit. I don’t care if (then: Cher, now: Demi Lovato) has it. If she wants to dance around on TV with her bellybutton showing, that’s her business. Please change now. Yes, I do know ‘anything’ about fashion.”
Then you have the coup de grâce of the mother-daughter brouhaha: “Boyfriend? Wait, come back here. What boyfriend?”