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Was your mom the kind of mom you don't want to be?

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I Worry About Being a Good Mom Because I Didn't Have One

Posted by The Stir Bloggers on January 31, 2013

I love momFor years, I have been hearing that motherhood would give me a greater understanding of my own mother. The comments always come from women who mean well. They come from women who had moms who baked them good luck brownies and helped them plan their weddings.

They aren't women like me. They didn't have a mom like mine. Because now that I'm a mother, I find my own even more confusing. And the more confused I am, the more I worry.

How am I going to be a good mom to my daughter if I don't know what it's like to be the daughter of a good mom?

I'm sure there were happy moments in my childhood. There are photos of them. Toddler me surrounded by other toddlers at birthday parties. Toddler me in a bathing suit surrounded by cousins. Toddler me with my Christmas presents. 

But the memories have faded, clouded over by the others. Flinching when my mother walked by, fearing there might be a wooden spoon in her twitching hand, ready to whack out at my bottom for some imagined wrong. Having the phone book thrust in my hand with the order to find an adoption agency who would take me "off her hands." Being pulled out of bed in the middle of the night to make her coffee or wash her dishes.

Hearing her refer to the size of my rear end as "two axe handles wide."

The last time she hit me.

We weren't a "let's go shopping today, honey" kind of mother and daughter. We didn't do each other's nails. We never played Barbies.

Sometimes she hit. She always yelled. And I shut down. I ate myself bigger and puked myself smaller and tried to draw as little attention to myself as I could until I escaped.

And oh did I escape. I grew up, and I found a man who loved me, and we got married, and I got pregnant.

During my pregnancy, I got radio silence from my mother. She refused to talk to me. She ignored the invitation to my baby shower. She declined the invitation to meet her granddaughter in the hospital.

In the years since, our relationship has been as it was when I was a child -- minus the hitting. She sticks to emotional abuse these days, and I to shutting down and drawing as little attention to myself as possible. At times we go for long periods without speaking, her way of punishing me for slights real and imagined now that she cannot wield that wooden spoon.

I have come to realize that my mother does not know how to love me, but I wouldn't call that "understanding my mother." I don't understand her. 

Not as a mother who loves her daughter fiercely and with everything inside of her. Thoughts of my daughter one day wanting to disappear, wanting to escape, wake me up at night. Gasping for breath, I run to her room to reassure myself that she is still there, that I have not chased her away, that I have not destroyed the chance I have been given by the universe to get this right.

I know I have the chance to do for my daughter what my mother did not do for me. The only trouble is, I'm not quite sure how to do it.

So I do the only thing I do know is right. I do the very opposite of what my mother did with me. I love my daughter.

Was your mom the kind of mom you don't want to be? How are you managing?

by on Jan. 31, 2013 at 1:41 PM
Replies (301-310):
by on Feb. 2, 2013 at 3:30 AM

 My father to a tee! Except we had a tv, add ass kicking and I was put on diets. I'm sorry. I can empathize. So fucked up! 

Quoting Anonymous:

Yes. My mom is a manipulative narcissist who made developing my own identity damn near impossible. Everything always was couched in terms of how she sacrificed for me, how much I owed her for everything (I realize that parents DO sacrifice and that they deserve respect, but holding a kids very existence over their head as a debt owed is not kosher) and my accomplishemtns were treated as hers and not mine at all. Adoration was expected and she concocted increasingly complicated "diets" for herself based on imaginary allergies (never once did a doctor confirm one of them). By the time I was in highschool I was cooking all of her dinners because if I didn't, she wouldn't eat. The "allergies" changed every month or so so that every time I had meals down pat, I had to start over with new crazy rules for what was and wasn't acceptable. The house and yard were kept complusively clean. We had no TV and anything pop culture was abhorred, my clothes were homemade and very innocent, shall we say. Not a happy camping experience, and one which I have no intentions of passing on to my DD via my own parenting.


by on Feb. 2, 2013 at 3:39 AM
My mom was like this when i was a kid. My grandparents (her parents) took her to court and got custody of my brother and i when i was four. my mom would abuse me because she was with abusive men all the time. My grandparents raised us until i was thirteen. They would keep us very sheltered. Back then i hated it...and i guess i blocked out all the horrible memories enough to still love my mom and trust her not to hurt me again. So as any teenager would think...i moved back in with her and her new husband whom i met when i was eight years old. Well i was wrong for trusting her. Her and i argued to the extreme about everything. I clung to her husband and became "daddy's girl". I couldnt trust him either....he told me that he was in love with me for two years and that he wanted to leave my mom for me after he got me drunk. I tried to tell my mom when she got back in town but she just didnt believe me. I made him tell her the truth and all she said was it was my fault and she asked him of he is over me now (he told me this 48 hours before this) and he said yes! She and i didnt talk for years and we just started talking again. But i live on the other side of the united states so there is plenty of distance. She mails my son clothes and toys all the time and we exchange pictures. I think she feels remorse finally for all the shit she put my brother and i through. But now i cant put my full trust into anybody but myself, my fiance and of course my son.....which sucks sometimes cause it would be nice to have friends i could share things with on a more personal level then just shopping sometimes or watching movies at my house..oh mom also divorsed that creep two years after i left...thats a start! Sorry about the horrible punctuation!
by on Feb. 2, 2013 at 3:56 AM

My mother was a paranoid schizophrenic Her mother died when she was 7.  I had no roll mother at all.  I would stop, look at things and ask myself the best way to handle a situation.  Do I get angry? was the infraction serious enough to discipline.  I put a lot of thought into every thing I did.  We have a great relationship, my DD and I.  She's 36 in June. My mother passed away in 04.  My DD is an awesome mother and an even better daughter.

by Platinum Member on Feb. 2, 2013 at 3:59 AM

Yes. I love her, but I plan to not be like her. I have a lot of her anger and impatience. I'm working on it and know my ticks for the most part and I can step away from the situation at hand and regroup 90% of the time. Thankfully I have a very level headed husband with a lot of patience, he is my rock.

by Silver Member on Feb. 2, 2013 at 4:04 AM
This could've been my childhood. It's sad really. I am a new mom. I notice myself getting impatient like she did and that scares me. I try to calm myself down so I don't react like she would've to the smallest things. Even still our relationship isn't that great.
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by on Feb. 2, 2013 at 8:20 AM
Mine is too.

Quoting Lovemyshadows:

My mother was a paranoid schizophrenic Her mother died when she was 7.  I had no roll mother at all.  I would stop, look at things and ask myself the best way to handle a situation.  Do I get angry? was the infraction serious enough to discipline.  I put a lot of thought into every thing I did.  We have a great relationship, my DD and I.  She's 36 in June. My mother passed away in 04.  My DD is an awesome mother and an even better daughter.

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by on Feb. 2, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Your mom sounds as if she might need therapy for mental health issues. In that case, maybe it would help you to think of her as ill, (and perhaps to remind yourself that you are not ill.) Then remind yourself that we are not any of us perfect--that you can strive for your best and to always try to improve--and that a mistake or two will not only not hurt your relationship with your daughter, but modeling how you deal with your mistakes (apologizing, taking responsibility and trying to do what you can to make it right afterwards) can even make you closer and stronger. And may I suggest with all due respect 9and lots of it for a person who is working as hard as you obviously are) that if you are not already in therapy, you may benefit from some of it yourself, to provide a safe place to vent, learn to love yourself and accept that you were not responsible for your mom's choices or behavior, a place to safely grieve what was lost and reclaim what was right, among other things. We all need a safe place to fall, and sometimes having a non-involved third person is just the key for that sort of thing.

In my case, I wanted to do things differently for a variety of reasons, so I actively searched out a method that offered what seemed better, and suited me better, and found Positive Discpline, a method based on the work of Alfred Adler and a few others, (there are a number of books, and a number of web sites that help out with this method--just Google or check Amazon for titles if you're interested in learning more)  I felt I needed a road map, and being somewhat a nerd, I turned to my usual source, books and information, so I have/had a large library of books by various authors that taught this method, which were helpful along with online support/discussion groups specific to this topic, which offered people who were doing the same thing who could offer suggestions for specific events or situations in real time. My kids are 11 and 15, and my relationship with them now is very much what I hoped for. Not alwasy perfect, but certainly close and special. I couldn't ask for better kids. I am one lucky mom.

God Bless and Best of luck to you and your family.

by Bronze Member on Feb. 2, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Bless your heart!  I'm sorry that your mother was, and still is, so terrible to you!  Our family was fortunate to have a wonderful mother, and I told her that often (she died 3 years ago); even calling her when my children were young, to apologize for things that I knew I had done as a child!

But, how great is it that you recognize the need to raise your daughter differently?!  And because you recognize the fact that your "childhood" is not what you want for YOUR daughter, I really don't think you have to worry about her wanting to disappear, or escape.   Keep that fierce love in your heart for your daughter, and give her the respect and confidence you did not receive.  Teach her about compassion and understanding.  Show her that a mother's love is unconditional, unending and one of the strongest bonds in a person's life.  

You are a wonderful person with great insight.  And there is nothing you cannot do.  Be strong.  Be true to yourself, and your daughter.  Love her like there is no tomorrow!  Hold her often, hold her long, and speak kind words of praise and encouragement!  And NEVER say "can't".  

Much love to you and your family!!!

by Ruby Member on Feb. 2, 2013 at 10:58 AM

My parents got divorced when I was three and my dad got custody. When I was 10 my mom moved out of town and we would go isit during the summer, winter break, spring break and long weekends. Then when I was 11 she moved out of state so we only got to go visit a few times a year, plus she worked a lot of the time so we were home alone a lot of the time. She did try to spend time with us though when she could especially when we were little and she still lived close. My grandma was the one that taught me so much as a kid growing up in a house with just my dad and brother.

There are a lot of things that I want to make diffrent for my kids than what my life was like as a kid, my biggest thing is that there is no way I would move away with out them ever! I want to be here for them to go to all their school things, play with them, put them to bed each night, teach them, ect.

by on Feb. 8, 2013 at 7:39 PM

Thank you, it's all a learning lesson, it's all about growing up, learning what you want and don't want. My life was chaotic and crazy growing up, but I became a stronger person because of it :)

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