One of the blessings of being of a certain age I find, is that I am more confident than ever, to call things out, say it as I see it and to be true to myself. Which is why I feel able to say openly that I do not like my mother. Presumably I love her, but I do not like her.
I am told that to fess up to this is taboo. Is it? I don’t see why it should be if it’s the truth. Children being estranged from their parents is more common than you may realise. Often the estrangement is the result of a parent being an alcoholic, or they may have mental health problems or may be abusive. All of these are perfectly understandable; you reach a point in life where you have to decide for the sake of your own sanity, to detach yourself from toxic parents, particularly if you have children of your own.
In my case things are a little different, my mother is not an alcoholic, she doesn’t have any mental health issues (at least none that have been diagnosed) and she is not, nor has ever been, abusive, in the true literal sense of the word. She is however toxic and unpleasant and I truly believe she doesn’t know it. The first impression upon meeting her, is that she is a pleasant lady. She truly is nice when she is being nice. However it is difficult not to question, how it is, that she is the mother or 4 children, yet has only bonded with one. I find these stats odd, yet I doubt she has ever questioned them. Her position is “ I don’t know what the problem is, I haven’t done anything”.
My fall out with my mother has been gradual, it started when I was in my teens when I could see that that she had a bitchy tendency; she liked to talk about people behind their backs, normally putting them down. She, a grown woman, was not unlike some of my teenage companions. She would act as though her comments were a joke, but I could see even then, that they came from jealously of other people and discontentment of her own life.
For example, I had a spendthrift aunt who often could not pay her bills, yet could find the money to have beautifully manicured nails and matching shoes and bags. How she spent her money, was no one’s business, but for some reason, this irritated my mother. Comparatively, my mother could have afforded manicures, and matching accessories, but her mind set has always been that to spend money on non essentials, was a waste. Though she could have these things but chose not to, it irritated her when others, particularly those close to her, spent money on themselves.
Because i would never laugh when she made these comments, or i would challenge her when she did, a sort of friction developed between us. Although she never said it to my face (but undoubtedly said so behind my back), she thought of me as a snob, she believed that i thought myself better than her. I went through my life not discussing my choices, successes and failure with her; there was no point, she didn’t get me and i was wasn’t bothered. She used to accuse me of being secretive but that wasn’t the case, i was just being private. Even though we weren’t close, she would discuss my sister’s private business with me, even though they were close (isn’t that fucked up?!)
This pattern of behaviour continued, even though both of my older brothers had decided, when they were barely out of their teens, that they would rather not spend a moment longer in her company, and they left home. She asked no questions as to why they did so- after all, it wasn’t her fault. As far as she was concerned, there were no lessons to be learnt to ensure that her relationship with her two remaining daughters, did not suffer a similar fate.
It so happened that even my sister fled when our mother became too tiresome, but she was soon to return when she realised that independence wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
It’s now been around 5 years, since shit hit the fan with my mother and I. Years before, she and my dad had moved to live abroad, and this made our relationship easier. I had gone over to visit her and had a really nice time. She was frustrated that i was still renting, and out of the blue offered to help me with a deposit. I was shocked, surprised and grateful for the offer, but i cautioned her that my sister would not take too kindly to this. My mum poo-pooed this “it’s my money, she can’t tell me what to do with it…..” was her general response.
When I returned home, I set about looking for a place, and found a great shared ownership property. With the money she had offered and what savings i had, this was easily affordable. I discussed this with her, asking her if she was sure, and she assured me that she was. I paid a non refundable holding fee for the property, got my mortgage agreed in principle, when my mother announced that she had spoken to my sister and had now changed her mind.
I decided then, that i would follow the path of my brothers and leave my mother (and sister) to her own devices. She had called me a few times and i didn’t take the call; i was still fuming and knew that if we spoke, my tone, manner and language would have been entirely disrespectful and i did not want to go there.
Sadly, my dad, who had been ill for some time, died on New Year’s day last year. It was my niece who told me the news, and regardless of my feelings, i felt it was the right thing to do, to call my mother. I was dreading it. The past was the past and i didn’t want to have a conversation about what went on, i had moved on from that. Anyway, she was a nice as pie, she behaved as though we were friends of old. Dad’s death, opened a tiny door for us to start talking again, but it was really only very tiny, as in the odd call her and there. She mentioned that she would be coming over for a visit around November time, and planned to stay for Christmas. Oh fuck! It seemed likely that i would have to extend an invitation to meet up. Mercifully, i always go away for Christmas so it was a blessing that at least i could enjoy a toxic free Christmas.
I wasn’t sure when she was due to go back home, but having just been told when she would be arriving, i couldn’t very well ask, when she would be leaving. ” I’m sure we’ll find some time to catch up” was the best i could offer.
She stayed with my sister and this in itself presented difficulties, as we weren’t talking and I refused to call at her home. This left it to my mother to communicate with me. The conversations were awkward, i was careful not to discuss my life, as she would inevitably share the details with my sister. Therefore the talk was small, mostly about my forthcoming holiday and how she was finding things without my dad. The elephant in the room, was that one of us was expected to say something about us meeting up.
As it got closer to my holiday, i suggested that when i got back, we could meet up and i would book a restaurant. She agreed and that was that. My heart wasn’t in it if i’m honest, but i hadn’t seen her in 5 years or so and there was no telling if or when i would see her again.
No sooner had the discussion taken place, she was on the phone to my niece, who had become the unwitting go between. Apparently she was incensed that i would suggest meeting at a restaurant and not my home.
I was gobsmacked! She gave no indication of being upset when we spoke. She is entirely unwelcomed into my personal space; a restaurant was neutral territory where if either of us said something we didn’t like, we would have to restrain ourselves. But that’s not the point; she had recently lost of her husband, was nearing 80 years of age and was only on good speaking terms with one of her children – surely she should have seen this as an opportunity just to say hello, face to face.
So now i’m done, i will have nothing more to do with her. I’m sure she will visit again, but only this time, i will not feel any guilt or pressure to see her.
Honour thy parents? Yes but not the toxic ones
Stay fabulous x