The Emotional Payoff Of Being A Good Daughter

I love to read emotionally charged stories, with characters who are shredded, then put back together. But I also love to laugh, so over time my own writing has become a blend of these two elements…just like in real life.

Water DropsOn the Personal Transformation site, the blog post author discusses the importance of having a happy emotional payoff. If you’re interested, check out the post. It’s short. I’ll wait…

Oh good, you’re back.

On Monday, my sister and I took our mom to the knee doctor, and Mom is now on the list for knee surgery. For two years now, we’ve been trying to get her on that list. The good news is, she’s finally on the list. The bad news is, she’s finally on the list.


Mom wants the operation, badly. She’s super active, and the knee not only causes her pain, it slows her down. And truthfully, the slowing down part is probably harder on her than the pain.

Pink flowerI want to be a good daughter. In fact, I get a huge emotional payoff when I’ve done something that makes Mom happy. But a very large part of me is afraid for this 98 pound, 85 year old woman. She’s feistier than I am, may even be physically stronger than me (although I think her strength is driven by the sheer determination to win at all costs), and the operation will allow her to be independent far longer than she would be if she didn’t get it.

But to me, she’s weak and old and frail and precious, and I struggle between being the good daughter (supporting her decision to have the operation) or being the bad daughter (convincing her the operation is a baaaaaddddd idea, especially at her age).

Hmmm, now where’s the humor in all this?

Well, you have to know my mom. She is one of the most determined, hard-headed women I know. Which means that once the operation is over, she’ll be pushing to get back to her “normal” self.

But her shoes are atrocious. She inherited them from my dad or her sister or anyone else who has said, “Dora, do you have a use for these? I’m throwing them out…” We can’t get her to wear proper footwear. So I’ve told her that while she’s in the hospital, I’m sending in reinforcements to collect and throw out all of her shoes. She doesn’t believe me, but in July, I’m fully expecting to be shunted to the bad daughter doghouse.

Then there’s the vegetable garden. I’ve warned her that if she plants before she goes into the hospital, it’ll be gone when she gets out, because no way can she resist the urge to play in her garden (and by play, I mean work). Again, she doesn’t believe me, but I’ve decided that part of the emotional payoff of being a good daughter is protecting my mom from her own stubbornness, and protecting her will give me a hugely happy emotional payoff.

And seriously, I’m not really afraid of the bad daughter doghouse. After all, I’m her daughter. Isn’t there a rule that she has to love me, no matter what?

So what are your favorite emotional payoffs in real life or in fiction?


About Sheila Seabrook

Author of contemporary romance and women's fiction.

Posted on February 12, 2014, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I see a lot of emotional payoffs with my kids. Doing right by them often means they are mad at me. Parents must suffer and hope for the best in the long run.

    Good luck with your mom, Sheila. She sounds like a real character!

  2. I’ve been there with taking care of my mom before she died. We had to take away her driver’s license and she fought us tooth and nail. It was all about her independence and I sure can relate to that. No one wants to have to depend on someone else for the simplest things like going to the market for food. But I had to be the good/bad daughter and take care of the matter, knowing, as you said, that she’d still love me anyway because, well, because I was her daughter!

    • My father-in-law had his driver’s license taken away, and two years later, he still misses it, Patti. I think losing one’s freedom must be one of the hardest things to adjust to. But you did the right thing, no question about it. Better that your mom and the other drivers be safe on the road. 🙂

  3. Sheila … first I loved this post … second … I love it and you should not be afraid. I know a 94 year-old who is still going strong who had hip surgery at 87. Us gals are a hearty breed :):)

    Emotional pay offs come in waves when you’re a mother and grandmother. I sometimes think those waves will pull me under. Then I wipe my eyes and wait for the next time. Happy Valentine you good/bad girl !!

    • Florence, you’re right, we are a hardy breed. 🙂 And no doubt she will come through just fine. The fear is my own personal dislike for operations and pain. I shudder at the thought, and many of the choices I make now are based on the desire to avoid that pain in the future. My mom is definitely tougher than I am. 🙂

  4. I agree with Florence. You just have to ride the wave and hope you stay afloat. I can totally relate right now. When I’m you mother’s age, though, I hope my daughter has the same sense of humor and love for me as you do for your mom!

  5. In fiction, my favorite is seeing characters who think the payoff is in avoiding the relationship they really want because of some other conflict, then discover the real payoff is in taking the risk and going for it. Hope all goes well with your mother!

    • Those payoffs are terrific, Jennette, and when an author drives the characters to the brink of disaster, then brings to their happily-ever-after, I never want to let go of the story or the characters. 🙂

  6. Sheila I so get your good daughter bad daughter situation. I was the good daughter who took mom to the dr. Bad when it came back she had Alzheimer’s. Good when I took her to other specialists bad when she didn’t like the results. AND I come from a big family is strong sisters, so none of them agreed with moms docs and fought me very step of the way. Sometimes I felt like I was wondering,lost in the desert.

    Three years later mom has been adjudicated as incompetent to make decisions, so I’m the responsible party. Still the good daughter, bad daughter. Ditto for my sister role. But like you, I know it’s all worth it. The other women in my life might not like my actions but I’m clear on what I doing and why. Eventually they agree with me (vbg). So stay the course my friend. You’re on the right path.

    • Louise, I admire your fortitude in ensuring your mother is well cared for. And I know that if 20 years ago, your mom had been able to see what was ahead, she would have thanked you then for what you’re doing for her now. It’s hard, but we must always do what we believe is right, and no two circumstances can ever be treated the same. 🙂

  7. The tough love is hard. No matter what happens, they are still your parent and you have that respect thing that can”t be ignored. But you have to do what”s best for them, too. I’m living this with my father ever since my mom died. He continues to want to make bad decisions. Fortunately he asks me before he does anything too stupid, but the risk is there for potential screw-ups. He’s active, mentally sharp and able to care for himself, but his judgment is sure getting bad. I hold my breath and pray every day.

    Good luck with you mom, the shoes and the garden. Hang in there. Sometimes you have to use your head and not your heart.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Jansen, you’re so right and the respect factor is something I never thought of. And it definitely can hold us back from stepping in when it’s necessary. Good luck with your dad, too. 🙂

  8. Sheila, decisions about surgery are difficult at that age, but I’m sure the doc wouldn’t take a chance unless the likelihood was high for a good outcome. And you’re right to take that stance about the shoes – I’ve had to come to terms with getting rid of shoes that aren’t good for my feet, and spending a ridiculous amount of money for ones that are. I understand frugality, but her well-being comes first.

    • I have the same struggle with shoes, Andrea, and it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve really been conscious of making sure to wear good ones all the time, even when I’m in the house. No more non-supporting slippers for those cold winter mornings. I bought a pair of good walking sneakers specifically for indoors, and I tossed out all of my slippers. 🙂

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