Releasing the past in order to find myself

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Not a good mom

Lately, NM has been pulling out the "I know I wasn't a good mom" card.  A lot.  I couldn't quite put my finger on why that was bothering me so much.

When I was a child, I idolized my mother.  I wrote stories dedicated to (and about) her.  She was my hero: strong, proud, hard working. 

After the mess of the divorce, and in my twenties, I tried repeatedly to tell her how I felt about her mothering.  CLEARLY, she had not been the best mother.  She had, in essence, abandoned us while she ran around.  She kept claiming it was "her time to be happy".  I remember thinking how something about that logic didn't seem right at the time with that statement.   I remember thinking, was she not happy before?  Is she blaming me for her unhappiness during my childhood?  And now I think, is it an either/or situation?  That either her kids or her could be happy? 

Whenever I confronted my mother about her behavior (present behavior, things she was doing in the moment to upset me) she would turn it around and blame it on my "long-held resentment" over the divorce.   I wasn't mad at her.  I was mad at the divorce.  It did not matter that she caused the divorce, handled the divorce poorly, abandoned her kids at the time of the divorce, among other things.  She would. not. hear. me.  She demanded that I treat her like a good mother.  That I give her the respect and "pay back" for all she did for me.  I was NOT ALLOWED to tell her she wasn't a perfect mom.

When I had my kids, she kept bringing up the things she did for me as a mom.  She wanted me to be like her.  She wanted me to "finally" appreciate her or at least that's what she was thinking in her mind.  She never outright said that.  She expressed anger at my father because he said my MIL was a good mother (ha!) and didn't mention her.  She might say that she "didn't do everything" right, but she clearly still believed she was a good mom.  She brought up all the things she did for me as a kid: swimming lessons, occasional crafts, dance lessons.  You know, all the THINGS, that give you the 'love' of a mother.

So, this new "I'm not a good mom" bullshit is unnerving.  Every once and awhile she'd relinquish that she was a shitty mother.  Usually when I had her trapped in an argument and she didn't have a "move".  She'd go pathetic and weak.  She'd start yelling "I know! I know!  I was a bad mom, what do you want me to do about it!!!  I'm sorry OK!!!"  This did not help.  Really, all I wanted was some sympathy for my childhood.  For her to hear my side of the story.  I did not need a "confession".

She has implied lately that some "things have come out around your sister" (I'm guessing in therapy, but who knows.  It could just be some "heart to heart" conversations.) that have "indicated" to her that "some of the "mistakes"" she made as a mom "might" have contributed to pain in my life.  Maybe.  Sort of.  Little stupid things she may have done.  One that ONE bad day.   Right.   I'm curious too as to why, after YEARS of me trying to tell her this, she's "suddenly" seeing the light.

My guess is that she isn't seeing the light.  In the past few conversations, she's mentioned "I know I wasn't the best mom."  And it makes the hair on my neck stand up.  There is something fishy about it.  First and foremost, she never really makes admissions about WHAT she did that was shitty.  Just "some stuff".  She never really apologizes....although she said she "was not asking for my forgivenss" which means that is exactly what she wants.  (And let's not forget the fact that she is CONTINUING to do the things she did to me as a kid.  Her behavior has not been reflected on and has not changed.)

I couldn't figure out what her angle was in telling me the bad mom story.  Pity?  To look like a victim?  To disarm me?  Make me feel guilty?

It just occurred to me it's most likely a trap.  Because really, I'd LOVE to say, "YUP.  You were a horrible mother.  And you continue to be."  And I couldn't figure out what was holding me back from telling her the truth.

It's because it's a trap.  If I saw that, she'll be able to play the vicitim.  She'll have me "anger" and "resentment" at her being a bad mom as an excuse to deflect from the real reason for my anger.  That she is treating me and my sons horribly.  That she is continuing to play the same old bullshit games.  I can only imagine the rage and tirade and pity party she will throw herself if I dared actually agree with her. 

She's laying out bait, hoping I'll bite, so she can bite back.  No thanks.  I think I'll pass.


  1. Yup, years of experience have taught that our NMs are not to be trusted.

    And it's good that the hair on your neck stands up--that means your 'Spidey sense' is fully functioning!

  2. Yes, that's exactly what it is-a baited trap. Where you got the "long-held resentment about the divorce" explanation for your inherent defectiveness vs. her inherent hold-harmless status (always), I got the, "You're JUST LIKE your FAAATHEERR!" explanation for mine. I didn't agree with her, I didn't want to do what she demanded, I had a different perspective etc.? That's because "your father."
    We are TOLD what we think, how we feel and who we are and the CB brokers no discussion of their pronouncements. You can not possibly penetrate their willful insistence on their Agenda. But you don't have to respond to the bait either. You've spent a great deal of your life trying to soothe mummy-dearest, trying to prop up her illusions, trying to cold-patch her crazy etc. You don't have to do that anymore and you're not: No, she isn't seeing the light-you are. Sit back and watch as she becomes more frantic with the "Tell me I'm a GOOD mommy!" manipulations, all in preparation for Worshipful Mothers Day coming up in a few weeks.

  3. I totally get what you mean about her saying 'she's a bad mom'. There is something about it. I can't figure it out either. I think what you point out about it not being specific is excellent. Because then it is a generalization without anything behind it.

    The other aspect of not understanding the specific behaviors of why she was not a good mother is that if there was an actual awareness of how she treated you and your sister and things she said it would put her (and anyone) into a 'swampland of shame'. It would be such a painful experience that one couldn't openly bounce back and say 'I've been a bad mother, I'm sorry'. I'm not saying that everyone deals with self-awareness in the same way but a real look into the mirror gives one a shock and say "OMG, I did that, I said those things, I hurt the people I love." It makes one stop and pause. It seems your mother goes onto to the next verbage that will get her out of the hole she dug herself in without a pause.

    The other aspect is that true behavioral change is very hard. It doesn't happen overnight. It is a gradual process that doesn't seem to be evident in her behaviors.

    1. Thanks TR for your comment. You touch on a lot of good points. Specifically, in regards to the last two, you are spot on. She doles out "I'm sorrys" but doesn't back them up with anything. No real discussion, no real attempts to understand the issue or even hear me out. It strikes me as SO odd that she can say "I'm a bad mom" but has NEVER allowed me to give her any "feedback". She has never wanted to hear how I feel, what my experience was, or even what my opinion is on the subject. She has ZERO self awareness. ZERO.
      And she hasn't made any attempts at change. Watching her pull out the exact same behaviors with my sons as she used/uses on my sister and I show that she hasn't figured anything out in regards to true change.

    2. The multiple 'I'm sorry' is annoying. When shelved out so often the words fail to have meaning. Like it is magic in their eyes.

      The Zero self awareness is amazing to see. The lack of registration or quick brush off and their defences go up through blaming, projecting, etc. Her projection of her own feelings of how she was lands on you and ugh, that is terrible.

      Imho, you are a good enough mother. That is what any child or any of us had needed. Not perfect, not awesome, good enough. xx