I dislike my mother!

It’s taboo to say out loud that you don’t like your mother, but sometimes, that’s just how it is…….

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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

Silly Season (Merry Christmas)

I am fortunate enough to be writing this blog from Cape Verde, whilst sitting/semi-lying on a sun lounger, from a terrace almost spitting distance from Praia da Cruz aka the glorious sea.

I still find it slightly undignified to drink before noon, so although there is no sangria or merlot at hand at this moment (11.45), before the end of this blog, there certainly will be. 

For the past 3 years, I have chosen to spend my Christmases abroad.  Christmas is a time when families get together, but in my case, it is time when I put as much distance between us as my budget permits. 

It’s not just the monotony of over eating, the ridiculousness of eating things which few of us enjoy, ie dry turkey and brussels,  rubbish TV (it’s incredible that they are still showing Morecombe & Wise) but I am sick to death of the commercialism that is now part and parcel of Christmas. No sooner have the supermarkets cleared its shelves of unsold Halloween pumpkins, way is made for Christmas things.  This is not so that you can spread the cost of Christmas, but its so that by the time Christmas arrives, you will have already eaten your way through  10 packets of mince pies.  The sell by date will have expired well before Christmas.

We are bombarded with adverts to buy this and that, but in these lean times of austerity, what about the many families who can barely afford to buy food?  It’s not enough that people will feel the pressure of having to buy essentials, but they must also withstand the constant reminders that they are poor.

Even though Christmas comes around the same time every year, we (well, not me), still allow ourselves to be hoodwinked by the same old tricks, I talk of black Friday , cyber Tuesday and the like, where supposedly prices are slashed and if you don’t buy now, the world will end.

Even as I type, I am receiving notifications from various entities alerting me to 50% off, just 3 days before Christmas, when they know that by now, presents have already been bought.  So why the huge discount at this stage?  It’s because they know that folk are stupid enough, or lack the discipline, not to over stretch themselves.  Even though bargains are available, all the time, all year round.  The 50% off , by the way, is the old tat, that they weren’t able to sell last year or the year before.

So I am having none of it.  I don’t feel under pressure to buy presents for anyone; if i’m not in the country at Christmas, no one has any business expecting a gift from me.  Equally, I expect nothing.  I try to be generous throughout the year so I will give a random gift on 26th July if I feel like it, rather than the spurious giving on 25th December.

Being here in gorgeous Cape Verde, has confirmed to me that my decision to distance myself from Christmas, is absolutely the right thing.  The people here, in the main, have very little, and the focus for them, is the togetherness that the season brings and I have no doubt that waste and gluttony, will be non existent.  With so little, they make the most of everything around them.  Have a look at the Christmas tree made out of water bottles above. They can teach us a thing or too about recycling.

Anyway, it is now past noon and a refreshing G&T beckons.  There’s not a great deal to do  Half the services which I was promised when I booked this apartment, have turned out to be….well a bare faced lie.  I can’t hire a bike on site, nor can snorkelling be arranged and I had to walk a mile into town to arrange my own tour of the island (stunning by the way).  The lovely smiley lady who checked me in, told me that the TV does not work (no problem, i’m not on this sun drenched island to watch TV), then with the same smile, she told me there was no internet in the apartment.

I wondered for a nano second, what the criminal penalty would be if I were to bitch slap this lady.  I know nothing of the Cape Verdean criminal justice system, but doubted that their prison would provide me with the comforts I would be afforded in Holloway.

“That will not do” I said to her.  It’s one thing to deny me a TV, but quite another in the 21st Century, to deny me access to the internet.

So it came to pass, that for the cost of 20 euros I have a less than perfect router, which allows me stay in touch with the very friends and family who I went out of my way to escape.

Have a great Christmas.  Eat, drink (in moderation) and be merry & fabulous.