Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mothers and Daughters

I am not my mother's favorite.
There, I said it.

That is okay, I have come to terms with it. That is not to say I haven't been hurt by it, killed by knowing my mother had favorites and I was not it.
Perhaps it started as just being my little sister's protector from me, who would do what older siblings do to a younger child. Or maybe it was just because she was my mother's last baby. She was a good mother, she is a good mother. She was just the opposite of my personality and we clashed at times.

My whole life my mother has had a way of tearing me down in one small sentence. She would tell me I couldn't wear something because it was for "skinny" girls. There was that time where she called me "loose" when she found that hickey on my neck when I was 17. The face she made when I told her to just hang the wet shirt in my closet to dry. Even a couple of months ago she told me that my car seat is too close to the steering wheel.
She will always take my husband's side if we disagree or even argue, I can't even vent to her my marital frustrations, because I am always the one wrong in any situation.
It leaves me wondering, even 34 years later, if I will ever be enough for her. When, if ever, will I measure up in her eyes?

Don't get me wrong, my mother and I had a very trying relationship when I was a teenager, but now it is what I would call a very good relationship. We talk almost every day, she is a good Grandmother to my children, she has gone out of her way to give us things we needed and do things for me. I know she loves me.
I know she loves me.

How can she cut me down with one look or sentence? I am a grown woman with her own daughter, should I want or need my mother's approval anymore? It makes me mad that I still do. I wish I could just do my thing and let little comments, or judgements roll off my back. I wish I did not need her as much as I do.

Most of all I hope I never tear my daughter down instead of building her up. I hope that I will never make her heart leap to her throat with one disapproving look.
I just hope that 34 years from now, when my daughter is grown and maybe even has kids of her own, she never has to write a post like this.

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14 comments:

  1. Even though my childhood was hell, I'm a better mother/person today, because of it.
    I knew for years that I wasn't my mother's favorite, but when she told me (at 25) that it was because she had been jealous of me since I was SIX!!! I knew she needed help...need I say more?

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  2. How sad! It's great that you have a good relationship now, but how horrible it must have been (and still be) having a mother say those things and tear you down rather than build you up. I agree with monkey girl, though, it's those kinds of things that make you a better person and mother.

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  3. Chrissy, I have to say, she was a good mother. She still is a good mother. Just sometimes, I know not to hurt me, she just hurts me.

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  4. This sounds a lot like my relationship with my mom -- we have a close tie, and yet, every day it's a little comment or remark that seems to just crush the life out of me. And yet? She does so much for our family that I'm left with my head spinning and feeling torn.

    I've come to realize that a lot of it has to do with me - how much I need her approval, and that need magnifies every little slight. I'm working on it. But see, I love her so much, and need her so much... that I just can't let go and let it roll off my back.

    I don't want my daughter to have to write or think something like this, either - but then again, I don't want her not to need me. It's not fair!

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  5. I just want to give you a hug. No advice, just a hug...

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  6. I was just wailing the same story about my mother yesterday to someone and she says to me, "Mother's are like the wax lady. Here's this woman, she pours scalding hot wax over your body's most sensitive parts and then RIPS it off. And not only do we pay her to do it, we tip her when she's done. And then we go back a month later for more - because we need her."

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  7. My mother's like that too. Only recently have I started to understand some of what she does. She wants to be helpful and, when she feels helpless in a situation, she looks for anything she can do to help. Unfortunately, at those times, her mode of "help" is unwanted advice and criticism, and I end up feeling bad. The family favorite is my older sister, who is very much like my mom. So sometimes, I get hit by the both of them.

    I grit my teeth and remind myself that her intentions are good. She's a good mom, she loves me, and I need her.

    Still hard, though, when she gets critical like that.

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I relate. You are not alone.

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  8. I have a good mother, and we have a good relationship, but I will also admit that it takes very little effort on her part to make me feel small or "not good enough." I'm like you, wondering when I will reach a point when I won't need her approval, or, in some cases, what feels like permission. But to be honest, I've got a lot of baggage filled with things she's said to me, looks she's given me, over the years, and while she may say them and move on, they pile up on me and letting go of heavy things, while it should be easy, is pretty damn hard. All we can do is realize the impact we have upon our children, and do the best we can.

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  9. I was lucky, my mom never did things like that to me, but then again, I was an only child and I've seen so many friends go through it. The only doozy she pulled on me was when she found my birth control pills when I was TWENTY ONE. She held them right up to my face and started calling me Mary Magdalene...which remained my name for several moths thereafter...lovely.
    Big Hugs to you, I hear this from so many people and can't imagine how much it hurts.

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  10. My heart breaks a little bit for you as I read this. I don't feel this way with my mother, but there are a few people in my life that do make me feel this way. I feel like I have to work at their approval. I know it's irrational and I promise myself that I won't do it, but I find myself involuntarily trying to please them when one little thing they do or say can cut me in an instant. I feel for you!!

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  11. I worry about the same thing with my girls. I have days where I know I have said something I shouldn't and I will make up for it the next day! Children are fragile and I will try my hardest to make the right decisions!

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  12. Vicki5:10 AM

    This is my relationship with my dad. My mom and I are extremely close and would go to the ends of the earth for each other. My dad on the other hand only calls when he needs something and forgets my brother and I's birthdays. He and my mother divorced when I was in college and he pretty much started over with a new family. He remarried and adopted 3 girls and now I'm just a thorn in his side, I think. I guess I'll never know why he prefers my brothers to me but he even does it to them too so I guess he just doesn't really favor any of us that much. Oh, well. One day it won't matter anymore and it'll be sad, but its the truth.

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  13. I'm glad your relationship with your mother has improved. Hopefully, she will one day reach a point where she can appreciate you for the individual you are.

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  14. Kristi8:57 PM

    OMG this totally sounds like me and my mom. To prove my point about her my husband and I tricked her. We'd tell her about conversations or arguments we'd had only we'd switch it up and say that he said something when it was actually me who said it. After five or six times of her chosing his side we pointed out that it was really me. I shit you not, she actually found a way to swing it around and say that now that she'd thought about it the other way was better. Of course, the other way was his way. I've learned to just take it all with a grain of salt.

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