They're number one on each other's speed dial and they tell each other everythingwell, almost everything. They share shoes and clothesexcept one very special green jacket, which almost caused a catfight.
In other words, they're just like every mother and daughter in the world. Best friends and occasional enemies.
Now they're dishing about it all: their lives, their relationship, and their carb count.
Lisa on Being a Mom: Motherhood has no expiration date. Francesca lives in the city, and I worry about her all the time. My daughter moved out, so why am I still lactating?
Francesca on Being a Daughter: My mother is always right. Just ask her.
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About the Author
FRANCESCA SERRITELLA graduated cum laude from Harvard University, where she won the Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize, the Le Baron Russell Briggs Fiction Prize, and the Charles Edmund Horman Prize for her creative writing. She lives in New York with only one dog, so far.
Scottoline and Serritella write a weekly column, “Chick Wit”, for The Philadelphia Inquirer. The columns have been collected in Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog; My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space; and Best Friends, Occasional Enemies, among others.
Date of Birth:July 1, 1955
Place of Birth:Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1981
Read an Excerpt
BEST FRIENDS, OCCASIONAL ENEMIES (Chapter 1)
The Occasional Enemies Part
Daughter Francesca and I are very close, but that doesn’t mean we don’t fight.
On the contrary, it means we do.
So if you’re currently fighting with your daughter, or merely fussing from time to time, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s start with the notion that the no-fighting model isn’t the best for mother-daughter relations. I know so many women who feel bad, guilty, or inferior because they fight with their daughters, and they needn’t. To them, and to you, I say, flip it.
Flip that notion on its head. If you fight with your daughter, you raised her to think independently from you, and to voice her own views.
You’re a great mother. Know why?
Because the world doesn’t reward the timid. Especially if they have ovaries.
In my opinion, conflict between mother and daughter is normal and good. Not only that, it’s love. I say this not as a social scientist, which I’m not, but as a real-life mother, which I so am. So if your daughter is fighting with you, here’s the good and bad news:
The good news is you raised her right.
The bad is you have a headache.
Francesca and I are best friends, but at times, we’re at odds. Enemies, only momentarily. Like most mothers and daughters, we’re so attuned to each other’s words and gestures that even the arching of an eyebrow can convey deep meaning.
If somebody plucks, we’re in trouble.
We never have really huge fights, but we have car rides to New York that can feel as if they last cross-country.
Wars of words.
We go on and on, each replying to the other, swept along in a girl vortex of words, during which we parse every nuance of every syllable, with special attention to tone.
Tone is the kryptonite of mother-daughter relationships.
As in, “I don’t like your tone.”
Also, “Don’t use that tone with me.”
And the ever-popular, “It wasn’t what you said, it was your tone.”
It was ever thus. Francesca and I got along great from the time she came out of the egg, and I used to tell her that she wasn’t allowed to whine, but she could argue with me. In other words, make her case for whatever she wanted.
Never mind that she was three at the time.
Oddly, this turned out great. She was the Perry Mason of toddlers, and more often than not, she was right. Or she felt completely heard, which was often enough for kiddie satisfaction. She argued for punch balls from the gift shop at the zoo, dessert before dinner if she ate all her dinner, and the wearing of Cinderella outfits on an almost daily basis, complete with tiara.
What girl doesn’t want a tiara?
Another thing I did when she was little was to let her vent. I had no idea how I came upon this idea, but I used to give her the chance to say anything she wanted to me, without interruption, for a full minute.
And I mean, anything.
She was even permitted to curse at me, though she didn’t know any profanity at that age. It got only as rude as “butt face.”
She’s still permitted to argue with me and vent her anger. And she accords me the same permission. Even though we’re writing books together and we adore each other, we can still get mad at each other. And that valve releases the pressure from the combustible engine that is the mother-daughter relationship.
It’s just hot air, anyway.
Bottom line, we’re close, so we fight, and the converse is also true. The conflict strengthens us, because it’s honesty, hard-earned.
And the more honest we are with each other, the closer we are. You’ll see exactly what I mean, in the pages that follow.
And watch your tone.
BEST FRIENDS, OCCASIONAL ENEMIES. Copyright 2011 by Smart Blonde, LLC, and Francesca Scottoline Serritella.
Table of Contents
The Occasional Enemies Part 5
We Are All Ferraris 8
All's Fair In Love and Wardrobe 12
Picture Day 20
Can This Marriage Be Saved? 24
Holy Moly 32
Cover Me 35
Mother Mary and The Retirement Village 38
The Suburbs Are Killing Me 41
The Mothership 45
Brush Off 49
Love and Worry 52
Getting It Straight 56
The Heart of a Gambler 59
Mother Mary Hears The Worst 65
Mother Mary and the Terrorists 72
In Which We Lose Angie, and Nothing's Funny 81
Banana Fanna Fo 86
Pilgrim's Progress 92
You Can't Touch This 95"
Security Complex 98
Mousetrap Part II-This Time It's Personal 101
This Old Homebody 106
Little Dog, Big Pill 109
The Flying Scottolines Reach Out 113
Don't Look Now 116
Mousetrap Part III-Modicum or Solace 119
Home Team 126
Running on Empty 129
Control Issues 132
My Daughter Moved Out, So Why Am I Still Lactating? 136
I Refuse To Dress Up For The Mall 139
Mother Mary and The Christmas Standoff 142
Busy Signal 145
Twas The Night Before 148
Prepare for the Best 151
Join Me 155
Rewarding, or Why Free Is Dumber Than You Think 158
Can't Start A Fire Without A… 162
Cold Comfort 166
The Moon and I 177
Big and Me 180
Birthday Wish 183
Life in the Not-So-Fast Lane 187
It's Not The Heat 190
Moms Say the Darndest 193
Not Under My Roof 197
Uncle Sam 200
Oprah and Einstein 206
Toys in the Attic 209
Bank Angst 216
Tempus Fugit 220
History Lesson 223
Oh, You Don't Know 229
Home, Sweet Gym 233
The Right To Vote 236
The Einstein Workout 239
Remembering Joy 243
If a Tree Falls in a Driveway… 250
As Seen On TV 254
In Which We Get A Woman President 257
The Hardest Job in the World 261
This Land Is My Land 264
The Four Seasons 267
The Best Friends Part 271