This blog is not FDA approved
Thank you Le Clown, for inviting me to guest blog here. It’s an honor. I’ll try to live up to that honor.
I love my mother. I really do. However, sometimes I do not like her.
My mother was born exactly 34 days before Disneyland opened in 1955. Yet, her life was very much not The Happiest Place on Earth. She lost her own mother when she was just a child and was thrust into taking care of her younger siblings like she was the mother of the house. She prepared meals, cleaned the house and bathed the younger ones.
She also had a very abusive father (both physically and sexually). She was not able to have a childhood with laughter and playgrounds. When she finally left her father’s house, it was not without a lot of beatings and God knows what else. She was 18 years old when she left and that was the last time her father beat her. She got a job, worked for a few years then met my father at the same, well known, utility company that my father just retired from with 38 years. They married soon after despite the disapproval and disdain from her father and siblings because this man she chose was not of their
religion cult. My father eventually followed my mother into the cult.
My mother was 19 and my father was 24. I was born a year later.
From the moment of my first breath, my mother and I were doomed for failure. She almost died giving birth to me and she was laid up in the hospital for 2 weeks afterwards with infections. I almost died as well, as I came out not breathing having swallowed a lot of umbilical fluid and having severe lung complications. I was instantly separated from my mother. There was no bonding time, no first breast feedings, and I was placed in another hospital, in another city miles from my new mother. My poor father had to drive back and forth just to see his wife and newborn daughter.
Some of my earliest memories of my relationship with my mother was talking back to her. I will admit, I had a mouth on me but I wasn’t a disrespectful kid. I just talked a lot and asked questions. I wanted to know why, how and what. So if my mother told me something, I questioned it.
Another early memory was of her hitting me. Now, I’m sure it was nothing like the beatings that her own father gave her. It was more like a smack on the mouth for talking back or a bop on the head. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, seeing a mother do this was not uncommon.
I also distinctly remember the very first hurtful comments. One early memory of this was when I was about 7 years old. I had just recovered from a burst appendix that almost took my life. I can see it in my memory now. She was standing in the kitchen in our home that was being remodeled in Los Angeles. I don’t remember what I said but it must have angered her something awful because the next thing I remember her saying was “maybe you SHOULD have died!!!” (referring to my recent brush with death because of the burst appendix). Remember, I was only about 7 years old. I don’t remember what my reaction was except that I was shocked that she would say something that cruel. Now, if I brought this memory up to her today, she would promptly deny it ever happened and either accuse me of making it up or that I was nuts. I couldn’t make this stuff up. I can describe the scene and the settings and I can even remember she had a dish rag in her hand and threw it at me as she was saying it (the first of many objects that would be hurled at me by her).
As I reached my teens, it only became worse. We would get into full fledged fights. For the most part, it was me on the defensive because she would either tell me I was fat or ugly (she was always saying that or comparing me to others) or telling me I was dumb, stupid or something along those lines. To this day, she still tells me I’m fat. If my father got involved it would then turn to how I’ve wronged him by having a different opinion than his or my mother’s then it would escalate to him pushing me against a wall or on the ground as if I was a man and my mother egging him on. It was rather upsetting and caused a fire inside me that to this day I could never let go.
By the time I was 18 and ready to graduate High School, I was done with living under their roof. At the time, “their Roof” was a tent in the back yard of my grandfather’s house (yes, my mother’s father who was known for the beatings and so much worse), so when I got a chance to go to college out of state, I jumped on it. It wasn’t long until I returned and was living in their newly built house. I was now 20 years old with more opinions and emotions than the teen version of me. I worked 2 retail jobs and finished college at the local community college, but fights were pretty much the norm. Granted, we had a lot of good times, smiles for family functions and such. But my mother was all about looking good on the OUTSIDE for others. We all played the part mostly just to keep her quiet.
During this time, she was going through severe Bipolar episodes and depression, but mostly just severe mood swings. Just because she felt like it, she would torment my father by hiding his work equipment so that he couldn’t go to work (that would be debilitating for him because work was all he did). She once hit my younger sister so hard her nose was bleeding for hours. She would go into rages and destroy things in the house. Once, I assume because she didn’t like something my father said, she walked up the stairs and on the way up, she nonchalantly pushed over a fairly large sculpture that was on the stairway landing, sending it crashing to the first floor. I really don’t know what she was thinking during bouts like that because if anyone had been beneath that large sculpture, they would be dead. As for me, our fights were as bad as ever with some ending with me running out of the house because she was in a rage and in all honesty, I didn’t want to do anything stupid in my frustration and anger over her actions.
I married to the wrong man just to escape her. That ended up worse for me. To move from a seemingly berating, belittling and sometimes physically abusive relationship with my mother to a loveless marriage with an alcoholic was not the best of choices. After I divorced my husband, I had to move back in with my parents. It was a vicious cycle.
At that point I had a newborn and my mother saw it as a wonderful opportunity to now choose another way to belittle me, by attacking my own abilities as a mother. I lived there for the first 7 years of my son’s life. Out of all the mistakes I made, this was the most crushing for me and my son. Not only were their times when both my parents used my failed marriage and inability to be a wife as a tool to crush me down, but they used my son as a playing card. One instance I can recall, we were in an argument, my father took my son from my arms with my mother standing there. I told him to give him back to me, he said no with my mother taunting me to lose my temper. I kept it cool for the sake of my son. It all simmered down and was brushed under the carpet soon after (something my family were also perfectionists at, just brushing certain feelings and situations under the carpet). However, I will never forget it, even though I’m sure they already have and if it was brought up again, my mother would deny it saying I was the crazy one (as I mentioned before, she tends to have selective memory).
I have since been almost 3 years out of my parents house but my mother still tries to control me any way she can. In the beginning when I first moved out, she would come into MY home and berate me and so on, same old stuff. At one point, I told her that she was not allowed to come into MY home and speak to me that way especially in front of my son. This sent her in a fury of anger because apparently, in her world, even though I had a home that was mine, where I make the rules, she believed she should still rule it. She didn’t speak to me for weeks and I shrugged my shoulders and said her choice. Eventually, she came back around. However, to this day and even just last week, she still comes into MY home and tells me how to run things. It is something that I can’t stand about her and something she will never change. To put it simply, it’s just plain rude.
Now that I am almost 37 and she is going to be 58, I have taken some time to sit back and really try to understand her. She has since mellowed out a lot as I think old age is finally getting to her. I have also Mastered the Jedi Art of Ignore when she does let her comments and ugly words slip. The Force is Strong with me.
Although sometimes, I literally have to bite my tongue, yes LITERALLY bite it, almost to bleeding, when she goes off on rampage. Just recently, at my son’s hockey practice, she wanted to be in control of everything and demanded I didn’t know what I was doing regarding his equipment (she has no sons and no history of knowing hockey at all, yet she feels she’s as expert). I told her she needn’t worry about it, I have it under control, words she loathes to hear because she must be in control. Her response was to look around (later I realized she was making sure there was enough people around to hear her so that my embarrassment would be at maximum level) and she said “OH so you are telling me to SHUT UP then!” As she wanted, all the parents around heard and turned to look. These are people I just met and I’m fairly new to this hockey scene so I was utterly embarrassed and absolutely outraged, but I bit my tongue. My act of not barking back at her when she gets this way turns the tables to make her look like the loud fool. That is why keeping my cool, when she does this, especially in public, really is a win for me. But oh Lord is it hard to do sometimes.
I want to say scenarios like the above are because she is under a lot of stress having to take care of my ailing father who can’t remember much of anything anymore and her own ailing health. The doctor is apprehensive on diagnosing my father with actual Dementia because he says he’s just to young to have it. My father is 62. But he pretty much has no short term memory and he can not speak a single sentence together as he can’t form the words he’s trying to say. This puts pressure on my mother to do a lot of things she never had to before. I’m sure the stress is a lot for her. However, I firmly believe that does not entitle her the right to forgo all human decency and respect towards me (although sometimes I doubt she ever respected me as a person to begin with). I do really try to understand her shortcomings and be sympathetic towards them but in the end, my solution is just to greatly limit my time and interactions with her. And slowly, as time goes on, I pull away from her more and more. As of now, the only real reasons I visit her house or see her at all is because she shows up to my son’s hockey lessons or wants to spend time with him. But even my son is starting to see what she really is like.
I realized a few things did and did not happen in my 36 year relationship with her.
What did happen:
1) Hitting, lots of it. Now, again I’m pretty sure it was never to the extent that her father beat her as she’s never knocked me out cold like her father did to her but wow did I get my face slapped a lot. However, I do recall the one black eye I received. That one was hard to explain to my friends and school teachers.
The most recent incident of hitting was actually in July of 2007. I had told my parents, while we were eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant (a public place), that I intended to move out (it never happened though). I must have said something that hit a nerve because she turned to me and punched me right in the stomach. Usually, I yell something at her when she hits me but this was in a restaurant full of people so I kept it cool but mostly I was shocked. My son was there as well, another reason why I kept it cool.
She actually hasn’t hit me in years but that doesn’t stop her words from cutting like a knife.
2) Plenty of verbal put downs and insults. As I pointed out before, she pretty much compared me to any and all of my friends or female cousins. To her, she and her daughters had to always look absolutely perfect to everyone else on the outside. She always told me I was fat, and needed to be as smart as my best friend was. It was always a competition for her. The amount of pressure it put on me and the realization that all she wanted me around for was to show me off was horrible.
What didn’t happen:
1) She has NEVER said to me “I Love You”. She may have said I Love You to me when I was younger and if so, I don’t remember. But as a teen and adult, I have never heard her utter that at all, to myself or anyone else. I would like to think it’s because she may have never had a parent say it to her, being that one died to young and the other just beat her. But sometimes I wonder if she actually does and that should never be the case for a child to wonder if her mother loves her.
2) Hugs, hardly EVER happen. Even to this day, if I go to give my mother a hug or even to pat her head, she recoils like I’m about to give her leprosy. If I do force a hug on her, she’s a cold fish, just standing there seeming to be counting the seconds until I release her from my grip.
I think I can now safely explain why I will always love my mother, but never like her. I believe she is who she is because of her unfortunate past. However, I always felt she demanded sympathy because she never had a mother. She would tell me things like “at least you HAVE a mother”, referring to the fact that she lost hers when she was a child. To that I say, yes, but that does not mean she should be cold, cruel and hurt with words just because she remained alive. I love her because she gave birth to me, because she has had a lot of sadness and lost a lot of people in her life (her mother when she was a child, her brother 6 years ago to AIDS, her father almost a year ago and just recently her sister). But sometimes, she makes it REALLY hard to love her.
It took me a long time to realize the power that her abusive father had on her. She continued to have a relationship with him after she left his house, created her own life and family and even after her father crossed boundaries with her OWN children that NEVER should have been crossed. That is another subject but it’s probably what you are thinking and yes, he should have rotted in jail for it. Believe me when I say, this man is burning in hell right now (he died last September at the age of 92). She was there on his death bed, devoted to him, even though he would bark orders to her and be belligerent. Maybe, she even possibly forgave him. For me, I would have cut him off, never spoken to him again and he would have been lucky I didn’t do worse. For the most part, that is what my sister and I did and we refused to even visit or acknowledge him on this death bed. We both could never understand how our mother could have been loyal to someone who hurt her children. As a mother, I would never understand it. Messing with my child is a whole other ball game and in that department, my parents failed when it came to this evil man.
Because she is my mother I love her, but I could never like her or her behavior. I have a hard time liking someone who treats those they are supposed to love like dirt.
Yet, I’m glad I had a mother like her. I hear women say “My mother is my best friend” or “My mother is a wonderful kind person and my inspiration”. Well, the only thing I can claim is that my mother is my inspiration. She inspired me not to be a mother like she was.
So, now I’ve been a mother for 9 years and despite 7 of those 9 years living under her roof, I still let my own style of motherhood come out and it’s pretty much the exact opposite of how my mother was. I have tried be lively and fun with my child from the beginning even if it was to get us Disneyland Annual Pass’s and go on a regular basis, something we have been doing for the past 9 years (his first visit was when he was 10 months old). I like to go on trips with him, play video games with him. I don’t smother him or try to control him to much. Yet, I have to keep that balanced so that I’m not a push over, but it seems to be working fine. I most certainly do not tell him he is dumb or stupid or ugly. Insults are absolutely not allowed.
I will always encourage my son to grow up and be whatever he wants and if it makes him happy, I will back him up (as long as he isn’t doing anything criminal). As of now, it looks like ice hockey is what he wants to do and I think that’s fantastic! Sports or college were never encouraged by my parents, even if I could get a scholarship. I was obligated to work. But for my son, I will encourage him to explore and enjoy life. My mother encouraged nothing but staying by her side and doing what she wanted. Even to this very day, she still is manipulative, gives out her guilt trips and being purposefully hurtful with her words and actions. As of lately, I have chosen to limit my interactions with her and have begun the process of pushing myself away from her entirely.
I am always conscious of how something I may say or do will effect my son and if I do slip up and do something that may have been hurtful to him, I apologize and tell him that I should not have said that or yelled and that I was wrong. I think he should know that I’m human and will make mistakes. My mother wanted to appear perfect and never admitted to doing anything wrong or chose to have selective memory when she knew she was wrong, denying anything. I’m all about keeping the line of communication open, another concept my mother never embraced unless it was to fight with me or hit me.
Also just as important, I do tell my kid I love him all the time and hugs are ALWAYS given.
What I don’t do is hit or spank my son. I will admit, I did spank him once, after being pressured by my mother (remember I lived in her house) and I hated it. It just didn’t seem right. I associated it with hurting and making my child feel humiliated because that is the way I always felt when I was spanked or hit. I know that some parents do spank their kids and that is fine. But for me personally, I associate physical punishment as something humiliating and angering, because that is how I knew it growing up. I remember feeling outrage that my mother could make me feel this worthless and there was nothing I could do about it. I could never do something that would make my son feel the kind of outrage and disgust towards me that I felt towards my mother. I thought of other ways of discipline. I found that cleaning out his room of everything but a bed and clothes really did the trick.
As my mother did not beat me nearly as much as her father beat her, I will not lay a finger on my child, unlike her to me.
As my mother insulted and berated me my whole life and probably the rest of my life, I will never purposefully hurt my son with my words.
As my mother never offered hugs or said I love you, I will make sure that my son knows that I love him by saying it and showing him.
Because I choose to treat my son differently than my mother treated me, in my mind, I fast forward to the adult version of my son and I hope that he will not feel the anger, frustration and disdain for me, as I feel for my mother. I hope that he will not slowly be distancing himself farther from me, as I am now trying to do with my mother. I hope that he will not be trying very hard to love me, as I try so very hard to love my mother.
I hope the cycle has stopped.
So I thank you Mother, for being the kind of mother you were. You taught me what kind of mother NOT to be.