I am irritated. This is nothing new considering I just got off the phone with my mother. But what really gets my goat is that even though I’m 43 years old, she can still push my buttons and has a way of upsetting me to the extreme. Why is that? Mother/daughter relationships are complicated; we all know this. Articles, books and movies (Terms of Endearment, Postcards from the Edge) have analyzed and showcased this so that we can all get through our lives knowing that we are not the only one who has a mother that drives us insane.
Feeling like your mother is a giant pain in the rear is a socially acceptable state. I, however, live in shame with a dirty little secret – I hate my mother. I really do. I hate her. When I divulge this painful secret to someone, they laugh and say “Oh I hate my mother too.” But they just don’t get it. My hatred is not a laughable rom-com, roll-your-eyes hatred. Mine is a deep, horrible feeling that has made my relationship with my mother non-existent and irreversible. This makes things like Mother’s Day downright gruesome.
I remember back about fifteen years ago or so (my memory is already going), when the big mother/daughter as best friends became a huge craze. Banners went up, parties were held and gregarious mothers and daughters walked around the mall in their matching Juicy Couture tracksuit, calling each other “Besties.” I wanted to vomit. The boundaries were washed away in bottles of chardonnay and mothers and daughters were sharing sex stories and picking up men together at bars. Gross. My mother always wanted to be my best friend. In fact, that was the biggest problem in our relationship. As my sisters and I grew older and found our own friends and lives, my mother grew more and more bitter that our lives no longer revolved around her. Our orbit had changed and that pissed her off. As a result, she became even more eccentric and outrageous as ever before. She hit on my boyfriends, she wore hideous tight lycra clothing and said whatever she could to produce the most shock value. While some friends called her “fun” and “cool,” I wanted to go into the witness protection program.
Being embarrassed by your mother is not a sin, nor is it unique. Ladies love to sit around and share the crazy tales of moms behaving badly. When I tell people my mother is crazy, they again laugh and say “Oh my mom’s nuts too.” But you just don’t understand. Did your mother move you every two years to a new town or home using trash bags as moving boxes? Did your mother throw out all the furniture one day and replace it with neon-colored bean bags? Did your mother make you eat whatever she ate depending upon the diet she was doing like “The Brown Rice Diet” or the “Chocolate Cake Diet?” Did your mother wear a cape to your college graduation? I am betting your answer is no. Well, my mother did all of these things. She is a classic narcissist and I think at one point she was diagnosed as bi-polar, but didn’t like taking the pills. I truly think she enjoys being an erratic mess.
I could actually forgive my mother’s nutty behavior had it not been for her vicious tongue. She verbally abused me for years and I took it. My mother excels at being nasty. When I was 30, I went to a therapist to deal with my anger and feelings about my mother that were beginning to fester (as they are want to do when you are no longer in your carefree twenties). As I sat there, telling the stories and reading the letters from my mother that were basically hate mail, my therapist looked at me in amazement and simply said “Wow.” Even he was dumb-founded. Thanks to him, I realized that I don’t have to be an emotional punching bag to this woman just because she gave birth to me.
My sisters also have experienced her wrath over and over and we are lucky to have one another as a shield against the motherly shitstorm. I recall going with my sister and my mother to look at wedding dresses for her. My sister had flown my mother in so she could have that special mother/daughter gown shopping experience that you see in movies or hear about from your more well-adjusted friends. As my sister stood there in a frothy white number, my mother told her that she was marrying “white trash” since her fiancé didn’t go to college (that’s because he’s an actor bitch), and that she should not have children right away because she will probably end up divorced. My sister spent the next 45 minutes crying hysterically in the dressing room while I rubbed her back and my mother nonchalantly waited outside, guilt-free.
My admission of hating my mother is not meant to inspire a giant pity party or tea and sympathy. I want other women to know that it’s okay if you hate your mother, as long as you have good reasons. It’s okay to not want to see her or call her or go get mani/pedis with her. The guilt and hurt will never go away no matter how much therapy you have or wine you consume (I know, I’ve tried). But you’re going to be okay. As an adult, you get to choose your relationships. You can tell people who are hurting you to “Go to hell.” The day that my sisters and I stood up to my mother and told her she was being a bitch was the best and worst day ever. Finally, we could loosen the noose around our necks but we also had to loosen the heartstrings and fill that void with love from others, which we did. My mother was not invited to my wedding and I’m just fine with that. Ironically, my stepmother and my ex-stepmother were. How’s that for a modern family? My mother was very hurt that I didn’t invite her but I figured the worst thing that could happen was that we would have less of a relationship than we have now, and we’re already scraping the barrel.
I wish I had the mother that baked cookies and was my Girl Scout Leader and was the person that I could go to when I am upset and need advice. Thankfully, my ex-stepmother stepped in when I was still young and offered to be that role model and I gladly accepted. She’ll get flowers this Mother’s Day. As for my crazy mother, she’ll get a card because hey, she’s still my mother.