Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Another mother

Have you ever known anyone who always tries to present a falsified/better image? This person is so caught up in maintaining this unrealistic image. Ultimately, you would respect the person more if the person was just more authentic and not so caught up in being "perfect."

For me that person is my mom. I suppose it would be easier if I was the only recipient. Unfortunately, she's like that to everyone. She is perfect, the rest of the world is very flawed. The rest of the world makes stupid decisions.

There's that people in glass houses saying that I want to tell her, but I know I would be subject to death if I even alluded to her not being perfect.

Nothing specific precipitated this post; I've been feeling this way for decades. In the back of my mind, I had hoped things with her would change once I became a mother. She might let her guard down at least once and have a real conversation.

I haven't ever had what I would call a real conversation with my mother. By a real conversation, I mean something like a blog entry (I know it's one-sided, but humor me here) that involves talking about what you're thinking and feeling. I'm not one to voice my thoughts very well, so instead I do tend to blog. But in the right environment I do talk about things with people I know and respect. I'm talking about getting to the blog level of discussion. As in this entry where I say I've never had a real conversation with my mother. I wish I could voice that concern to her….without her going apeshit.

I was an only child. I didn't envy friends with siblings. My dad wasn't around. I didn't envy kids with dads who were around (although I'm appreciative that my daughter's dad IS around). But I did envy those who could really talk with a parent, most of the time their mothers. I envied being able to have a real conversation, with someone who would listen and give you advice if needed or a hug if needed.

I didn’t have that.

It's a peculiar construct, I realize this now. Mothers are supposed to give you hugs and gentle words of advice and support and all those things that are at the very essence of motherhood. I didn't have that.

I'm not coming from a place of anger. My mom is odd, and as I proceed on my own path of motherhood, I'm realizing more and more how odd she actually is. I'd say she has Asperger's plus a few personality disorders (borderline, maybe a light version of bipolar).

So much of what she does and says revolves around maintaining a picture of perfection, particularly in being orderly and scholarly. Nothing bad that happens is ever her fault and nor does she contribute to it in any way. There is zero ownership of the bad and 100% ownership of the good.

A friend I knew gave me this button: "Neurotics build castles in the sky. Psychotics live in them." Sometimes I think my mom lives in this fantasy world that she built, and it's impenetrable from the outside world.

So what do my mom and I talk about? Not much. I don't trust her. And she's only focused on facts from me. There's no support from her, and I'm surrounded by constantly feeling like a failure even though in actuality I should be very proud of myself.

For instance, growing up I was expected to have impeccable grades. I did have great grades, for the most part--an endless string of A's and raves on my report card for citizenship, being a hard worker, thoughtful, etc. But when I got an A- or a B+, she would make a huge deal that would basically say I was headed to a life of homelessness because I'm "lazy." I never bought her arguments, and it's hard to argue with crazy. I was more of the type to walk away and retreat into my room. And she was the type to continue on by opening the door every few minutes, yelling an insult and slamming the door.

I couldn't wait to leave the house. Aside from a few other personal and financial reasons, that was the reason I started college at 15. The more quickly I could amass college credits, the sooner I could get the hell out. I LOVED not living with my mother anymore once I transferred to a four-year university at 17. I didn't miss her mood swings, her insecurity disguised by emotional abuse, her weird sense of self. There have been other indications, like her employment history is somewhat speckled, and my aunt recently told me that she didn't do well on her current performance review.

My college report cards were sent to her house instead of the dorm. One day I had to compile all of the classes I had taken for one reason or another, and I was going through the big filing cabinet of important papers to collect all these report cards.

I have to admit that I was interested in finding more about my mom. She was always so quick to evaluate me, but she was always so secretive when the shoe was on the other foot. I wanted to know more about her. I remember finding her college transcript in that filing cabinet. It was littered with C's, D's, B's and a token A here and there.

My mom's GPA sucked, and she was on me about my 3.92 GPA being awful??!  When I looked at that alphabet soup, I knew there had to be something going on behind the scenes. My mom wasn't that bad of a student, was she? Maybe she didn't adjust well to college. Maybe it was a boy. Was that when her mom was sick? I gave her the benefit of the doubt that something went on for those few years that caused the poor grades.

But it's not like I could ever bring that (or anything else) up with her. She would accuse me of spying despite our records being in file folders right next to each other. She wouldn't be honest with me or herself. She would shut down.  

Another question that makes her shut down: "What attracted you to my dad?" I just want to hear something for goodness sakes!  Was it his smile? Was it how he told her a joke? Maybe I want to see her giggle and tell me a story about the day they met. It's not like I'm asking how to get into Fort Knox. You fell in love with him for some reason. Yeah, it didn't end well. Some of my relationships didn't end well either. But I can still do that little sigh and remember all those tiny details from 20 years ago even with the ones that didn't end well. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to conclude from her refusal to answer, but what I come away with is that she doesn't want to be reminded of something that didn't end well.

There are so many instances and examples of why I have never had a real conversation with my mother. I feel like I have to compensate for the weirdness with my mom by overtalking with my daughter. I probably overshare. I've written journals and letters to her that I want to give her on her 18th birthday to explain myself and how I'm the crazy mother she ended up with. I don't want to pretend to be perfect with her. I want her to feel like she can talk with me. I don't have answers most of the time, but maybe I can give her a perspective that helps in some way.

I do envy those with a mother that they can actually talk with about things. Over the years, that void has somewhat been filled--mostly with my husband and various friends and sometimes just blogging, yet I don't think it's the same as it would be with an emotionally present mother.  


jojo cucina cucina said...

I love that you are writing to your daughter for when she is older. I don't think you can overshare too much with a child as they get older unless it's about having sex with their father. ewwww..... for the kid. But certainly a question about why your mom was attracted to your father is a good way to have a great conversation and it's too bad your mom doesn't go there.

I didn't know you started college when you were 15! How was that possible so young. I've heard of 16 or 17, but wow.

My mom doesn't know me at all and i can't remember ever having a conversation with her that wasn't about her whining about me not calling often enough or that i won't go shopping with her and every time she has too much wine at a party she goes on and on about why i don't want to be close to her. My husband tells her to knock it off and then changes the subject, but she's a broken record at family affairs about us not being close. She reaps what she sowed. I think my mom has a narcissistic personality disorder and everything that happens revolves around her. It's tiring.

Plus my mom is not that smart. She doesn't read. She loves soap operas. She's a hoarder and a terrible (though she thinks she is) and housekeeper, she doesn't garden. We have not a thing in common except that we shoot off our mouth too often. Which makes for bad interaction between us.

What's nice for me, that is too bad for you now that you are an adult, is that i can commiserate with my brothers about my parents. They are more tolerant but they do feel my pain and understand when i complain about her.

MY fear is that she is going to live to be 100 years old and make my life miserable once my Dad is gone My mom is indestructable and threatens us often that she is never going to die. She actually says that, which i think is in terrible taste since she already has lost a daughter and a grandson . Now when she says that i say to her 'you really want to outlive ALL of your children?'....

My mom can bring out the worst in me.

jojo cucina cucina said...

Oops, i meant my mom is a terrible cook but thinks she is great. One of my more funny family photographs is my brother holding up an extremely goofy looking lopsided cake with some kind of frosting (maybe coconut?) and my other brother's hand on the side of the photo holding up the photo from her magazine of what the cake should look like. (She doesn't know we took it.) Her terrible cooking is legend in our family. And she's from Louisiana, so it's not fair to have a southern mom who can't even cook at least!

Not one of her four kids has a food issue or weight problem though. And my Dad is pretty skinny too. It's because we never got used to overeating when we were kids. So there is that upside.

Thanks for letting me vent on your blog about my mom Beth! hahahaha....

B said...

Jo, thanks for making me feel like I'm not so alone with my mother issues! I'm not sure about you, but I think I might feel more complete if I had a better relationship with my mother. I wish she and I could just talk honestly without all these weird defense mechanisms showing up in our interactions. Her mother wasn't at all affectionate, so it's not surprising that she isn't. I'm not touchy feely myself, but I try to be better with my daughter.

My mom's a terrible cook too! So much so that you have to eat before you see her. What is it with our mothers? Mine doesn't claim to be a good cook. I grew up on frozen dinners and Hamburger Helper, and I fell in love with dorm food. Everyone else thought it was crappy compared to what they were used to, but I had a serious upgrade!!

I started at 15 because I started school when I was 4 and then I was in the first year of the Running Start program. I started in June after my sophomore year. I wanted to get the heck out of Dodge and there was a "situation" --it's in an old blog post; I'll try to find it. Graduated with an AA before HS diploma by several months. First BA when I was 18.

B said...

The link