Friday, December 30, 2011


You will, I hope, forgive me if I erupt all over this post.  I've been bottling it all up for days and I'm starting to get depressed.  You've heard me go on and on about my dad, but I've pretty much left my mom out of it.  She's so sweet, if you get mad at her, you feel guilty.  But I am mad.  And of course, since it's my mom, it's stirred up a whole pile of shit that would be better left untouched, you know?  But stirred it is, and probably typing will help.

I want to say that I'm nothing like my mom, and it is true that in terms of personality, as much as it pains me to say it, I'm much more like my dad than I am like her.  But my mom and I have so many things in common that it's not entirely true.  For one thing, the older I get, the more I look like her.  And we share many of the same anxieties.  Is that what mothers pass on to their children?  These are the things that should make your stomach clench.  These are the things that should make you worry about your worth as a human being.  These are the reasons why you can never relax. 


Do I do this to Nell?  Probably. 

Anyway.  Usually my mom and I get along pretty well as long as we're not together more than 4-5 days.  She chats endlessly to fill me in about all the relatives and what's going on with her friends and the book she's writing.  I enjoy hearing all the news, and although we long ago parted ways on opinions of any importance, we're both smart enough not to discuss that stuff.  And I help her with her computer questions.  That's one place we are entirely different-- she has not a molecule of technical proficiency in her entire body; I took to computers like a duck to water when I first encountered them in graduate school.  (don't laugh, it was 1983.)

I'm rambling.  This time, my strategy of just listening to her talk didn't work.  For one thing, I was (am) exhausted.  I finished the semester three days later than I was planning to, and then had nearly all of the Christmas preparations to do.  We hadn't even decorated the tree yet.  I spent all last week creating Christmas from the ground up, which all of us who are mothers (who celebrate Christmas) probably understand.  Usually I love doing it.  But I was just so tired this year.  It came together pretty well, and everyone, including me, had a great day. 

But I didn't do anything right as far as my mom was concerned the entire time.  I was doing too much.  I wasn't doing enough.  I would regret it if I didn't do this.  It doesn't make any sense to do that.  The major feeling I got from her as the days went by was disapproval.  Make that disapproval.  or maybe even DISAPPROVAL.  It was exhausting and demoralizing.  And I took it out on her by griping right back.  It's entirely possible that she's having exactly this same discussion with one of my sisters this week. 

Anyway.  What stopped me dead in my tracks this morning was thinking how different my life would have been if I had ever felt even a modicum of support from my parents.  My dad, for all his craziness, was far more supportive of who I am as a person than my mom ever was.  But he was crazy toxic, and not much help.  My mom just wanted a different kid than I was.  I was never social enough, acceptable enough, thin enough, popular enough.  I was far too introverted and I was interested in all the wrong things-- science fiction, music, deep questions.  I never cared enough about my social standing in our small town, and how that might reflect on her or on our family.  I liked being different, I liked being a nerd and going to science fairs and wearing overalls on Friday and playing up on stage in the symphony instead of wearing fancy clothes and handing out programs as a Symphonette like all the popular girls did. 

And yet at the same time, I can't blame that on her.  She never actively stopped me from doing any of those things, and she was very proud of my musical accomplishments.  She never forced me to take Social Dancing or finishing classes as many of my friends' moms did.  She wasn't awful.  We just didn't have the same priorities. 

And I'm still exhausted, so I'm ranting when there's really no reason to.  I will try to get more sleep this weekend and post something less whiney next week.  The new house renovation is proceeding.  It is (of course) going to take about ten days longer than we expected, but we should be in by the end of January.  We are packing like mad while Dean is off this week, and he has been beyond patient with my grumpiness. 

I was right.  I do feel better for having typed this out.  Hope y'all are all enjoying the post-holiday slowdown.


  1. Oh, yeah. Moms. They do get you where you live, don't they? Did you read Fokker's blog post? That mother/daughter relationship is so deep, so primal, it's where our earliest sense of ourselves develops and it is so, so hard to be able to step outside of that paradigm and see it dispassionately. Go ahead and spew as necessary. Often writing it out helps work it out. Good luck with the house - unsettledness in one's living arrangements can unsettle the emotions, so that may be part of the issue.

  2. yes, Fokker's post was what prompted me to finally sit down and type rather than just simmer about it. It occurred to me today that the reason I kept picking at her was because I was trying to force her hand, force her to choose to either be supportive or not (and invariably, on this trip, she chose not)(that has not always been the case). I do that with Dean sometimes too-- if I think he's not being honest, I keep picking at him, trying to get him to lose control and say what he really thinks rather than what he wants me to think he thinks. (And if you followed that, you deserve a sticker.) It's not conscious, I don't even realize I'm doing it except in hindsight. It's not a very nice way to be-- pretty passive aggressive of me.

  3. Spew all you need to, it's what blogs were invented for. Okay, maybe not ONLY, but hey, we use what we've got.

    Karen said it better than I can, but I totally agree. It's just so complicated, both with our mothers, and later with our daughters.

    (Also, that did NOT sound like a whine. At all. Just letting you know.)

  4. Spewing about your mother is very cathartic. Believe me I KNOW. Although I haven't ever spewed on my blog about the "issues" she and I before TMO's wedding because she reads the blog. And they were BIG issues that continue to reverberate in our relationship. But I spewed to HHBL and I spewed in my journal and that helped.

  5. @julie-- thank you. I woke up worrying about how whiney this was this morning, so I'm glad it didn't sound too bad. My mom really is a gem, she's just getting a little... oh, I'm not even sure what the right word is, but she's getting more that way as she gets older.

    @debbie-- I would probably just go ahead and kill myself if I had to plan a wedding in my mom's hometown. (if memory serves, TMO's wedding was there?) I bet for all their differences, our moms are remarkably alike in their adamant assumption that certain things should be a certain way.