I grew up in a close-knit family of five in the seventies and eighties to such popular shows that reflected our lives like The Brady Bunch, Who’s the Boss and Different Strokes. Long gone were the days of Leave it to Beaver and mothers wearing aprons around the house all day greeting their working husband each evening with a freshly cooked meal and a smile. The seventies and eighties meant more liberation for women and the family structure changed right along with it.
My mother was always my biggest advocate picking me up off the ground when I fell, wiping the tears off my checks when I’d been dumped by a boy and loving and supporting me to follow my dreams. She also taught me to stand up for what was right and wrong and to always be humble, not proud. I followed her teachings and once I left for college our friendship and love grew into maturity.
Everything was wonderful for the next 12 years until the moment when everything changed. I became a mother.
At the time, I had no idea that anything would ever change between us. I thought our bond would grow stronger once I was a mother too. But I was wrong. Instead, our relationship has become filled with tension, confusion and stress. It took me a long time to realize and understand that our relationship had permanently changed and even longer to understand the reason why.
After the birth of my first child, I chose to breastfed. I was formula fed. When I struggled through severe, debilitatating Post Partum Depression immediately after the birth of my son, my mother said “I told you so”. When my son wouldn’t sleep through the night and had such severe sleep problems at age two, my mother said that we were doing it all wrong. When my daughter was born, it got even worse.
All of my parenting seemed wrong according to my mom and wasn’t the way she did it.
As much as my mother loved my children and me, after two days of visiting us she was miserable, angry and unbearable. You see, my mom is a control freak and sadly it took me over 35 years to figure it out.
Her mother was the exact same way and kept a tight rein over her family of nine kids and a tail-between-the-legs husband. What ever she said or yelled was law. No “ifs”, “ands” or “buts” about it. However, my grandmother never finished high school nor learned to drive a car or write a check. She was completely dependent on my grandfather, yet was the matriarch of the house.
A generation later, my mother completed a year of college, fell in love and eloped. She was the black sheep of her large Catholic family. She worked a year and stayed home to raise three kids. She was incredibly active in our lives and the community. Then when she became an empty nester, that was that. My parents retired to Arizona and well, retired. My mom never went back to work or began a new life for herself.
Where the trouble begins is when my mother and I talk. She always strongly enforces her point of view and mine is always wrong. I’m not raising the kids how she would, I’m spending too much time advocating and traveling, and I’m working out too much. Everything I do seems to be criticized. And boy it hurts. It hurts bad and it enrages me. I’ve argued and fought with her over and over again to the point where she won’t speak with me. But I realize that this is not how I want to live my life. I’m a middle child, I never like to fight. Yet oftentimes nowadays I feel like I’m being pushed over the edge always having to justify my actions and behaviors, and essentially how I choose to live my life. And my life is different than hers. Yes, I stay at home with my children but also I have aspirations outside of the family life. I want a career.
Somehow I have to learn how to accept that my mother will never change. Nor will I. Life is short. We love each other. But it still hurts.
Have you ever had problems with your relationship with your mother?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by thirdeyemom. To read more of her posts, click here.
Photo credit to the author.