My mother and I don’t have a good relationship. We haven’t since I was a teenager, and at
forty-eight, I’m well aware that isn’t going to change.
I could go on about all the reasons why: She didn’t protect from someone when I was a child like she should have, she only asks me questions about my life that will lead to her being able to share something about herself. She can be incredibly manipulative. She makes passive-aggressive comments about me to my sisters–something they’ve told her to stop doing. And I recently found out, she’s started doing the same thing to my kids.
My relationship with my mom has taught me who I don’t want to be. (Twenty20 @musiena)
I’ve gone back and forth in my head a million times about whether I should keep my kids from her, but the truth is that their relationship with her is entirely different than my relationship with her.
As they get older, they are starting to see her for who she truly is. My daughter recently asked me why me and my mom were so different–it was all I could do not to tell her that I do everything in my power not to be the kind of mother my mother is. I realize that we all have our flaws and that parenting is full of failures.
Where my mother didn’t care where I went during my teenage years, so long as I was out of her way. I can be a bit over protective. Where my mom prioritized her own social life after her divorce, my kids come first. I’ve canceled plans with friends when my kids decided to stay home.
When I talk about my personal life, my mother’s eyes glaze over and each time I hear her say “Mmm hmmm” as she looks through me, it sounds manufactured, and I wonder when I’m going to learn my lesson and stop sharing with her. She simply doesn’t care. My mom pretty much left us with strangers when we were young to go do whatever she was doing. When my kids were young I rarely went out unless one of my sisters could come and watch them.
I know that sometimes I overcompensated in an attempt to make up for the childhood I didn’t have through my kids. I wanted and still want them to feel safe and secure and know that they were and are always my first priority because I have never felt that way. I know that my parenting has led to them feeling suffocated at times, and they don’t hesitate to tell me that.
But, my kids and I have a wonderful relationship. Not perfect, but wonderful. They tell me things and feel comfortable talking to me. They know they can count on me to listen and help them. They trust me. I know these things because they show me and because I’ve asked them. I want to make sure my love for them is translating the right way.
My relationship with my mom has taught me who I don’t want to be. It’s been the most trying relationship of my life, and I’ve gone months where I need space. I always limit how much time I spend with her when I do see her because I can feel my mental health plummeting and my mood taking a hit. And it doesn’t just affect me– it affects my kids when I’m not at my best.
She’s the person who gave me life, and she brings out the worst in me. I’ve wrestled with that my whole life, wondering if there was something I could do to mend the relationship. And each time I’d tried, I’d end up disappointed. So, I stopped. My mom has shown me how important it is to protect your peace. That certain people aren’t good to be around, and just because someone gave birth to you it doesn’t mean they have your best interest in mind.
I want to be sturdy for my kids. I want to be consistent. I want them to know that when I ask them something small like how their day was, or something big like how their relationship is going, I truly want to know.
I want them to feel my availability, and trust that I will always have their back, even if we don’t agree on something. And talking about them behind their back isn’t something I’m ever going to do. EVER.
My mother showed me that I could do all the things I wanted to do; be all the things I wanted to be, by being the complete opposite of her. Our relationship has left its scars, but I know it’s also made me a better mother.
And if I had to live it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.
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