About My Mother

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I don’t like my mother. I love her, but I don’t like the person she has become. I often think that my life would be better if I lived at a careful distance from her, if I didn’t see her every day.

Let me illustrate…

Vincent catches up with his mother in the kitchen after she comes home from work. Vincent welcomes her, sometimes even hugs her, and makes some small talk.

He then presents a domestic situation he feels he has to discuss with her. Like that the backyard is in an awful state. Or that good fences make good neighbors. Or that her boyfriend drinks a bit too much, and, since she brought him to live with them, Vincent feels something must be done about it  for the man’s own health and for everyone else’s benefit.

Mother: “Why do you tell me about it? If you want to do something, do it yourself.”

Vincent: “I’m not asking you to do anything. I’m only asking you to listen. Let’s try to find a solution together.”

Mother: “You keep telling me the same thing over and over again.”

Vincent: “That’s because it’s really becoming a problem.”

Mother: “If you want something, do it yourself.”

Vincent: “This is our house. We are mother and son. Don’t you think it’s normal that I talk to you about such things?”

Mother: “If you want something, do it yourself.”

Vincent says something or other, his mother says something back, they criticize each other, and the next thing he knows, Vincent is talking a bit more loudly than he would like to, to keep up with his mother, who can be heard by all the neighbors on a five-house radius.

Vincent: “Mother, please stop shouting.”

Mother shouting: “I’m not shouting!” + Long shouted statement.

Vincent: “Mother, please stop shouting. Let’s be nice about it. The truth doesn’t have to shouted.”

Mother shouting: “I’m not shouting!”
+ Long shouted statement.

Vincent losing his presence of mind and shouting himself: “Mother, please stop shouting!”

And so on until both Vincent and his mother run out of steam. Next morning they make peace, they both feel wretched about it, they say they’re sorry and genuinely are, they even hug. Only to start again in a day or two.

*

It’s so hard not to be reactive when your mother is shouting at you or criticizing you. When you feel that the big problem isn’t you, but other people and events. When you’re becoming the target of her anger because you’re the one near to her.

Even if you know that logical arguments won’t work, that they will only prolong the argument and possibly even make it worse, you instinctively cling to them. But then ot reacting at all is not good either, because then she feels ignored.

When my mother shouts at me, I become a different person. I prick up like a hedgehog.

Mother has been through a lot. My father died when I was little. Then the man she was in a relationship with also died. She never liked her job. She doesn’t get along with her only sister. Last year, her father suffered a stroke and was disabled. She has problems with her boyfriend, too.

Eckhart Tolle would say about her that she has a great pain body that awakes at the slightest provocation and takes over her. He would also say that she is not conscious of it. That she creates suffering because she herself suffers a great deal.

You could whisper therapy. For her, for me, for both. But it’s easier to take a dragon to the dentist than my mother to a doctor. And as to me, it’s easier to take a baby dragon to the dentist than Vincent to a therapist. Well, with some exceptions.

*

The word “mother” conjures for most of us the image of a loving and supportive figure. A figure who looked after us when we were little, and that lingers in our life as a warm and caring presence. A figure with who we share our happiest as well as our saddest moments.

But there are mothers in this world that aren’t only that. There are mothers who harm their children and the people around them without realizing it. Mothers who create poor relationships. Who shout. Who smoke and drink their health away. Who, as a self-defense mechanism, never admit that they are wrong. Who burn sadness in a furnace of anger.

I don’t like my mother. I don’t like the way she thinks. I don’t like how she eats. I don’t like how she believes she is always right and everyone else is always wrong, or stupid.

But I love my mother. I cannot help it. I am her, she is me. The two of us are together the problem. Maybe we are the solution, too. I’ll try to create space around her, see how that goes.

*

Tips, advice? What about your relationship with your mother? All hugs and smiles?

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26 thoughts on “About My Mother

  1. That is very open and honest. Thanks for sharing! I have a 10 yr old boy and I am a single parent. I tend to let my frustrations out on him because he is the closest to me and maybe in my head I know he will forget or forgive me.. cos I am his mother. I shout a lot and sometimes mean when I am angry. I blame him for things that goes wro ng even when it is my fault.. 😦 But I do feel guilty and I love him very much dearly!

    I think when someone has been trough a lot it changes them but doesnt mean they are born that way. It could be how they were brought up. There are parents who are just very patient nurturing and loving and then theres me and your mum.. the momzilla type! Your mum loves you. 😊

  2. Anne Carson in “Red Doc>”, page 162, part of a longer poetic fragment (should be centred on the page):

    “Mothers as ice
    Or when they are nice
    No one more nice
    In spring

    “Mothers ashamed and Ablaze and clear
    At the end
    As they are
    As they almost all are, and then
    Mothers don’t come around Again
    In spring”

      1. Even better, read Carson’s novel in verse … it’s eye-opening modern poetry. Although if you at all enjoy that (and haven’t read it) I’d recommend starting with her “Autobiography of Red”. Not that you asked about the poem or the poet … She tackles tough issues with a fresh twist—might be up your alley.

  3. Hmm, what to write, Vincent?, there is one word that might be helpful to this thorny situation that you’ve written yourself, space – if one person can create a sense of space, perhaps healthy boundaries can be erected and words can be spoken in a safe place. If there are physical things that are bothering you (the yard) perhaps taking that first step yourself to fix or clean said yard might encourage your Mom & her boyfriend to pitch in. As to their choices with food or drink, a gentle reminder sent their way without judgement might help – it’s so sad to be close to people who have been damaged or are struggling, as in an airplane, put your oxygen mask on first so you can love them from afar…this is a very honest post and I wish you well…I’ll be thinking of you.

  4. Hi Vincent, I can relate to you in so many ways. My mum can be nice and as much as im grateful for her prepping all our meals and doing the house chores, her words can be like swords. It gets so hurtful and whenever i try to speak to her nicely about it, she will never admit that she’s wrong and lashes on instead. It upsets me even more because my dad receive worst as he’s most of the time the target. I’ve thought of shifting out too but felt awful to stay away from my parents not knowing how long more they will live till. I felt that i couldn’t write about all these and have kept it in me all this while because it would make me a bad person, but you made me feel so much less alone with this piece of yours. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sometimes I find it hard to enjoy a conversation with my mother. I find she is sometimes very negative and defensive, often liking to talk about other people and their negative issues. I found it immensely difficult to get along with her as I grew older, and find that now that I have moved out of my family home our relationship is much better. I love her, I appreciate her greatly and know the sacrifices she made for me, but sometimes, I don’t like certain aspects of her personality and mannerisms. I don’t like the way she eats. I don’t like that our house is always so ‘dirty’, but that is not just her fault as others should be helping keep things in order. I can sense my father is uncomfortable by certain aspects of how she talks about others and makes repetitive negative statements and judgements. I always feel guilty and horrible after listening to one of her talks about not liking somebody who I am required to respect because they are my family not hers. I can’t be vocal about liking certain people if she doesn’t, because she will find a way to say something negative about them. Wow. I never said these things aloud. Not even to myself. I think that each family has some imperfection that appears to be life-crippling, but life is not about perfection. And no mother is perfect. Even the warm loving ones have dark secrets and ulterior motives. For example my spouse’s mother is so warm and loving but she controls her children by manipulating their emotions and scaring them into submission for fear she will withhold her affection. She does it in the most loving way but I see how my spouse has to tell her weeks beforehand that he can’t come home because he is too tired from work, and he is genuinely afraid to do something for fear of upsetting her. No mother is perfect. No human is perfect. We all love each other in different ways and are damaged by the world in different ways. The world is not and never will be perfect, and I think we just have to navigate the best route forward. Sometimes it is about placating others in a devious way so as not to disrupt the peace. I wish you all the best.

  6. I can relate to this so well. My story is extremely long and complicated, but I will say that I had to set some boundaries (twice, actually) with my mother. So far it seems that has worked, but I know that the boundaries can be violated at any time, so I am always on guard. I just think that it is very important to set boundaries when necessary, even if the boundaries are said to be “unfair” by the other person. The boundary is not for them, but you, so if that person says they love you and means it, then they should respect you by respecting the boundary.

  7. I have a challenging relationship with my mom, too. The older I get the harder it becomes, unfortunately. It’s almost to the point of falling apart and she doesn’t understand why. It doesn’t matter how many times I explain it, she won’t understand. I think distance can help if possible. When that’s not possible, though, I find that emotional distance is necessary. I can’t put physical distance between us at this point, (for a variety of reasons) so I have to do it emotionally. I never thought our relationship would end up like this, but I’ve learned to accept it; perhaps some day we can salvage something of it. I think that when your loved one insists on being difficult, sometimes you just have to back away for your own emotional health. Hang in there, and I hope that things get better for you!

  8. Thank you for sharing such a naked post.
    I could also write tonnes about my relationship with my mum – she’s a wonderful person and a good mother but I’ve had my issues with her that I’m still working out. All I can say is that I’m trying to be the change that I’d like to see.
    I hope you and your mother find healing this side of eternity.

  9. A lot of this resonated with me for different reasons. My mom actually told me decades ago that “they’re family, you don’t have to like them” (the end of that being “you just have to love them”, but that’s not always necessary either). The females in my family, of which there are my grandmother, my mom and aunt, and myself and two female cousins, do better with at least a house between each of us. We each have very different personalities and habits and that alone can lead to a lot of confrontations after being around each other for more than a couple days. Add to that, as you said, I don’t always like the person my mother has become, bitter and with this need to always be right, or at least with the mentality that her way is the only way. Maybe it’s a way of trying to control her world, but it can start to grate on you after a while. I found that physical distance did wonders (I moved to a completely different state), but not everyone has that option. Even so, some physical distance in little ways, getting out and just going somewhere not where she is for a little while, giving yourself the opportunity to breathe and find some peace for yourself, can help.

  10. I was asked to read a blog and review it. Honestly I read many, I understood few, I liked nothing, but then after 2 weeks finally I read something which touched my heart. Vincent there are just few people on this planet who express the harsh reality of life. everyone loves their mother unconditionally, Mother is lika a God but you just cant love someone everytime, you cant show it off every single time. its natural if you dont like what she does. we all are different , we all think differently. we all our humans at last. Its just impossible to love everything about the person you love.

  11. First thing i love my mother because she supports me education like whatever i like to do in my career.she is always nice with me in all situations but except with my father.In some situations like enjoying with friends,taking some life decisions she always wants me to take my fathers opinion.Then also i am happy for that,i can understand my mothers feelings.every one is unique in life.mother will give birth to a child with lot of pain.i am hers property.so i enjoy whatever or however she is with me.if you want to stay away from your mother stay till your career completes but please dont leave your mother forever.

  12. Hey, man. I haven’t really experienced anything like this but I sure know how painful it can get. I hope you get the solution and hope everything is gonna be fine.
    Best Wishes,
    Aaditya.

  13. This is such a comforting post. Funny how some people commenting on this blog post helps me from making myself feel less good of a son. I have always felt the guild of not liking the personality and attitude my mother has. This writing is so much relatable in many levels. Thank you, vincent. 🙂

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