When ‘Mommy Dearest’ isn’t that far-fetched
May 20, 2013 4:16PM
Updated: July 19, 2013 3:26PM
Not all mothers, it appears, are like Mother Teresa. Some are more like Joan Crawford. “No more wire hangers, ever!”
Marla: My mother never thought I could do anything right. Her harsh criticism was never aimed at helping me or improving my abilities in any area. Rather, she attempted to convince me that I didn’t have any abilities.
Some people mellow with age, but not her. During a recent visit, she looked up and out of the blue said, “Remember that time you fell off your bike? I never saw such a klutzy kid in all my life!”
I defended myself, explaining that I was a very small child just learning to ride the adult bike she’d bought me that was way too big and hadn’t been sized properly. She replied, “Well, I never knew anything about that. But I do know that if there was any sport with any kind of ball involved, you were terrible at it!”
Again I defended myself, saying that I was actually rather good at basketball. Of course she wouldn’t know anything about that because she never came to any of my games. Then she said, “Well, I guess I don’t remember that, but I certainly remember one time when you were about 11 when you came home crying after a volleyball game. You were no good at all in volleyball!”
I haven’t been back to her house since. I decided the eight-hour roundtrip drive to her house is too far to go to hear that. For Mother’s Day this year, I sent her a lovely bouquet of flowers.
She’d rather see flowers than me anyway, so it works out well all around.
Sarah: I lost my mother six years ago. I was so relieved! She thought I was so perfect when I was growing up that she never let me stand on my own two feet. If I did something wrong — if I didn’t get that juicy solo in the school concert, for instance — it was always someone else’s fault.
She never let me out of her sight. She gave me no room to explore and learn. She also never forgave me for getting married and leaving her. She wanted me to go to college to become a teacher and then come home and live with her. She said I didn’t need a “dirty man.” Yet, she had Daddy and was thrilled that she was “Mrs. Big Shot” in our small town.
I had different thoughts and ideas than she, and she claimed I had them just to hurt her. I changed religions, wanted to travel, had friends who were not lily-white in color and were sometimes not Americans. I liked different foods than those I had been raised on. I was of a different political party. And the list goes on and on.
She spent her whole life trying to get me to be the person she wanted me to be, the person she raised me to be. She was after me constantly because, as a friend put it, I was not her clone.
It’s so nice not to be under the constant pressure to be someone other than what I am. It hurt her so that I was not what she wanted that I always felt guilty. I’m relieved that she is gone.
Are you going through a midlife crisis? How is that affecting your relationship? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants, to firstname.lastname@example.org.