Tell Me About Your Mother….

May 2, 2010

At the risk of alienating the few people who read any of this I’m going to now blast another parent.  I adore my father but taking care of him has taken its toll so I previously posted about that.  And immediately felt guilty for it.  I’m very close with my father – which is why I take care of him – but this blog is a place for me to vent.  So I did.  And I’m about to again.  And it’s going to be painful for me and possibly for the reader as well (warning: long post).  My father drives me nuts fairly often because he doesn’t help me help him.  But my mother is another issue entirely.  She’s just plain nuts. And I need advice.

I love my mother.  She’s my mother.  She gave me life.  But she is a … difficult person.  At various points in her life she’s had two husbands, two children and two roommates leave her.  I’m sure that was hard for her.  But sometimes it gives me comfort to know that I’m NOT the ONLY one who has issues with her.  It’s only been recently that I’ve begun to understand, at least in part, why she does some of the things she does.  But that doesn’t make them hurt less.

The issue at hand is whether to tell her about my condition.  And whether I’ll even be able to keep from telling her when I make the inevitable Mother’s Day visit next Sunday.  It seems pretty harsh to plan to tell her on a day that should be all about her.  But it’s going to be a hard day for me.  And, quite frankly, it would be rather difficult to find a day that is not all about her (in her mind).  Let me back up a bit.

My parents divorced when I was young (about 5-6) and my mother went back to school and then back to work.  I’m sure she did her best.  I know it’s not easy being a single working Mom.  But she was really just not good at it.  My brother (who is 4 years older) and I grew up quickly because we had to.  We had to do our own laundry, make our own doc/dentist appointments,  clean our rooms for white glove inspections and at least get dinner started every night if not cook it.   If I had trouble with a bully at school (which I did) I needed to handle it myself.  She did finally call the principal but was told there was nothing to be done about it.  And so I got beat up on the long bus ride home from school every day.

Later, when she remarried, if our step-father accused us of something, we were immediately punished.  Guilty or not.  Whatever he said happened is what happened as far as she was concerned.  She would not go against him.  At least not in front of us.  When my step-father had his fist raised and poised to strike my brother’s face it was ME who stopped it from happening.  Not her.  My brother and I both have issues with her.  We know she loves us.  We never felt unloved.  But we also never felt like we ever came FIRST with her.  Never.  Now that my brother has his own kids he finds that to be even more unconscionable than he did before.  There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his kids.  Our mother just didn’t share that sentiment apparently.  She was too busy trying to get and keep a job and get and keep a man.  I don’t blame her for wanting or needing those things.  But at some point, it would have been nice to know that we came first.  Even if for a little while.

She and I have never been close.  I was forced to grow up quickly but then she got upset when I wanted to shave my legs or wear make up.  She said I was growing up to fast.  Whose fault was that?  So we fought constantly during my pre-teen and early teen years.  These were also the step-father years.  Once he left and my brother went off to college… I couldn’t take it anymore.  I moved in with my Dad.  At that point she was literally mentally unstable due to the 2nd divorce.  In the long run my moving out was probably best for both of us.

She is also deeply religious.  I had religion shoved down my throat as a child so I also rebelled against her in that way.  We now agree to disagree but I was repeatedly told as a teenager that I would be going to Hell.  In fact, I remember one of those Rapture scares when she told me that if she wasn’t home when I came back from spending a weekend with my Dad that it would be because Jesus had come and taken her to heaven.  I’m not kidding now and neither was she then.  She believed it might actually happen.

Since I became an adult – really since I became mature enough to stop picking fights with her – we have had a strained relationship.  But whenever I have a crisis in my life my first reaction is that I want a Mommy to comfort me.  Despite the fact that she was not that kind of a mother when I was a child I somehow expect her to be that for me as an adult.  Of course she isn’t.  I’ve learned recently that some her reactions to me can be explained through the dynamics of her relationship with her sister.  They are very competitive.  It’s taken me years to realize that my mother must see all females as competitors – including me.  That seemingly prevents her from being the mother I long to have.

Here’s an example.  Height is a big deal in my family.  At 5’8″ I am the shortest person in my entire family.  I have mutant cousins that stand 6’7″ tall.  My mother is the shortest of the three siblings in her family (she’s also the middle child and still complains of middle child syndrome).  She is a half inch taller than me at 5’8 1/2″.  But that’s not good enough for her.  Perhaps I’m really only 5′ 7 3/4″?  Or maybe she’s just a little taller?  Who knows?  Who cares?  But at least once a year she feels the need to stand next to me and ‘measure’ (with her hands) and claim that I can’t possibly be 5’8″ because she’s obviously more than a half inch taller than me.  She’s had this conversation countless times with me.  Why?  I have no freaking clue.

If I have a problem she, or someone she knows, has a worse one.  Sure, if I’m having a rough time, she’ll first say all the right things about how she’s sorry and wishes I didn’t have to go through it.  And then she will proceed to ‘one up’ me.  I made this mistake during my divorce.  I was devastated.  Beat down.  And there was nothing anyone could do for me except to just be there.  When I called for ‘Mommy’ to help make me feel better what did I get?  An hour of her divorce story (the 2nd divorce) and how it was much worse than mine.  Not what I needed to hear while going through that pain.

I don’t think she has any idea that she does this.  I think her brain just says “OK, the topic here is divorce.  Do I have any real life experience in this topic?  Yes?  OK, relate that experience.”  This is a cousin to the “Just Relax” comments made to infertile couples.  I believe many of those people have much the same thought process – “OK, the topic here is trouble having babies.  Do I have any real life experience in this topic?  Yes?  I knew these people who knew these other people and they tried for awhile and it wasn’t until they stopped trying that it worked.   OK, relate that experience.”

The other problem with confessing my woes to my mother is that, once she knows about them, she is prone to asking about them.  Constantly.  Whether I want to talk about it or not.  And she shares everything with her prayer group.  Now on the one hand even though I’m a non-believer, praying for me can’t hurt.  But on the other hand it creeps me out to know that there are a bunch of strangers out there somewhere praying for my lady parts to function correctly.  I’ve been through all that with the endometriosis diagnosis.  I can only be thankful that she no longer attempts to lay hands on me and speak in tongues like she used to do to get rid of my headaches when I was younger (turns out those headaches were stress induced and the speaking in tongues only made them worse because it caused more stress).  Again – I’m not kidding.  Or exaggerating.

So, back to the dilemma (and thank you sincerely if you are still reading – this is long, I know.):  tell her or not?  If I tell her, I know I’m going to have to hear all about her miscarriages (she had several).  If I manage to get pregnant, my chance of miscarriage will be high so I may have that in my future.  And I just don’t want to hear about it from her now.  I really want to be able to tell her and have it be all about me for an hour.  It’s never been all about me with her ever.  So I know that won’t happen.  But I don’t want to hear about her miscarriages for an hour and then have her call or email me everyday to ask how I’m doing.  That will stress me out more.  But it’s also stressful to purposefully not tell her what’s going on in my life.  I don’t like lying and saying that everything is fine in my life.

Oh, mother issues – will you ever go away?  Perhaps I should give up on spawning life so I won’t produce offspring who grow up to blog about their mother issues. 😉

To tell her or not?  That is the question.  Anyone?
Regardless of what I decide, here’s a good article about how to handle Mother’s Day


5 Responses to “Tell Me About Your Mother….”

  1. Kir Says:

    I just wrote you a big long winded post…and the internet ate it…

    ok, I don’t know you…and maybe that’s why I should answer. LOL

    your upbringing was “similar” to mine. My mom drives me nuts too but I love her beyond reason.

    we TTC for 4 yrs, the first 2 she was not on board, and said things to me like “you better stop being depressed or John is going to leave you” along with Relax and Stop trying.

    the last 2 she was awesome and did everything in her power to help and it made a difference, it really did…she was still a PITB..but gosh I couldn’t have gotten through the IVF or the PREG without her.

    here’s my feeling, she will find out eventually anyway…and at least this way you will tell her in your words, in your way. Scream, yell, curse, cry, fall into her arms, make her listen. IF needs to be talked about more anyway. Tell her your story isn’t like anyone else’s because as her DAUGHTER you get the prize for the most hurt about this.

    I found that in having her on my side, asking questions, talking about it (having her pray with her prayer group can’t hurt..) will make it more real and hurt less. I know that doesn’t seem possible but it’s true, when you share it , it’s less.

    it might be a while before you get from her what you need, but Mother’s day is never easy. I have my children now and it’s still not ok. I still hurt for all of you that are still trying , still out there sad and feeling all that hurt, depression and failure. It’s a day that I want all your dreams to come true.

    In telling her you get to say it out loud to HER, that woman who gave YOU life and tell her what that means to you. It might not go well, but once it’s done..your healing with her and maybe even with this can start (plus her stories may take you to a new dr or clinic, a new med or a new perspective…you just never know)

    lots of luck!!!! I’ll be thinking of you…your story is so hard to read, I want to get you that BFP so badly. HAng in there and know your IF “Sisters” are here for you anytime you need us.

    • Thank you SO much for your response. In this case I do think opinions from people who don’t know me (or my mother) might be better than asking other family members (2 have said DON’T tell her).

  2. gizellie Says:

    At times this post seemed to be describing my relationship with my mother. Isn’t it crazy that they can hurt us so deeply and yet we still love them so much. I also agree that you should tell your mom what is happening with you. Maybe you could do it at the end of your celebration with her so that she will be more apt to hearing about you and no so worried about taking away from her day. 🙂 Also, I think you just need to mentally prepare for the fact that she isn’t going to support you in the way that you need. If you know that ahead of time when it happens you can kind of mitigate the damage. That is my advice. I really hope it works out for you! Best of luck~!

  3. […] and asked for advice on whether to tell her what’s going on with me. You can read that here (Tell Me About Your Mother… ) if you feel like torturing yourself with it. Thanks to everyone who commented. The consensus […]

  4. […] and how hunched she is these days. And how she is now taller than her sister because of this (see Tell Me About Your Mother… to find out why height is such an issue) le sigh 0pt – She did not tell me she was happy that […]

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