When my second child was born, my mother said that she wanted to “be there for me”. She said that she wanted to really do something FOR ME and she offered to make the seven hour drive over the mountains to our home to help me in the final days before labor, and help me to take care of my 21 month old son.
I was thrilled. Finally my mother wanted to BE MY MOTHER! I felt closer to her in those phone calls planning her visit then I had ever felt before that time.
I started to have some complication with my hips. My legs were giving out from under me and I needed more bed rest. I was confident that my mother would agree to come a bit earlier then we had planned and I called her up with the news and my request. She hesitated. Her familiar voice, the one that I had come to hate as it was laced with disappointment, responded with “well….. how much earlier?” She asked me “what if you go into labor later then your due date?” It became clear to me that she didn’t really want to help me with what I needed help with; she wanted to help me with the NEW baby. She wanted to help me with what SHE had in mind to help with. She didn’t care if I was having a problem with my health. I was devastated to realize that even having my babies, was all about her.
In the end, she came on the exact date that she originally planned to come.
When the baby was born, I developed an infection in my blood. My Dr. wanted to keep me in the hospital, but I couldn’t sleep there and after the first night, I begged her to let me come home. She asked me if I was sure that my mother would do everything that needed to be done and that all I would do was nurse the baby. I was (even though history proved otherwise) confident that my mother would keep her promise to “be there for me” and the Dr. let me go home.
From the minute I walked in the door at home, I had that sinking feeling that I was going to be disappointed. First of all, (we have a farm) my mother kept going on and on about how her husband had killed all the flies in the house before we got there and how they had done some cleaning. Although I said thank you, I got the feeling that I wasn’t acting “grateful” enough but I was exhausted from the trip home and couldn’t think about jumping through their hoops. (My ingratitude was brought up to me for years to come)
We were at the beginning of haying, (and half of our income depended on getting the hay crop in) and my mother in law came over and asked if my mother would mind making the evening meal for the hay crew. Just a double meatloaf and baked potatoes would do it. My mother stared blankly at me. There was an awkward silence. Finally I decided that I could do it myself. I have no idea why no one thought about getting take out from the local restaurant just this once… but no one including me, did. I made the meal. My mother was happy to hold the baby. No one was worried about me doing the meal, no one offered to help.
That night my mother’s sister phoned and she was about an hour and a half away visiting my cousin and wondered if she could come over and see the new baby. I told my mother that the Dr. said I was not to have visitors and that I needed complete bed rest. My mother assured me that her sister would only stay for a couple of hours in the morning and she would take care of them.
Guess what happened? They didn’t leave and it was way past lunch time when my husband finally came home and made them all lunch. I was exhausted and since I could not sit on a kitchen chair, I took my lunch to the living room and ate by myself. My mother seriously reprimanded me. She said that I had company in the kitchen and what did I think I was doing?? I told her that it was HER company. I was absolutely shocked. I wasn’t supposed to HAVE company. Apparently my mother didn’t think that my Dr. should have more authority then she had. And come to think of it now, she is so self centered that she may have thought that I was lying, trying to ‘get a break’ by saying that the Dr. said I had to have complete rest and that I was USING her to get one. That is how my mother thinks.
After my Aunt and her husband left, my mother took the opportunity to tell me all the things I had done in my life that caused her to have such grief and disappointment in me. She just went up one side of me and down the other. She told me in no uncertain terms what a failure I was as a daughter. I sat there, exhausted with my 3 day old daughter in my arms, and I took it. I just sat there shocked, stunned and disappointed while she went on and on about how much trouble I have caused her. I felt like I was sinking into a black bog of pond water.. sinking sinking into the black murky depths, powerless to do anything about it.
She said that she wanted to be there for me, but in reality it was all about her and she was burdening me with more than I could take. She didn’t help me at all with any of the normal household duties. She yelled at me and berated me and did the complete opposite of “being there for me” and acted the absolute opposite of love.
The next morning, I asked her to leave. I wasn’t actually standing up to her yet; I needed to rest and she was way more work then I would have had without her there. I was too sick to deal with her and I was more hurt then I can even communicate. I felt like I had just been swallowed whole by a tornado and that I was still lost in it, going round and round and not being able to SEE my way through it. I felt SO confused by her actions. Even though it wasn’t the first time at all, I was still shocked that she would DO that when I just had a baby and just once I needed her. I wanted so badly to believe that she would really “be there” for me this time.
Once again I was reminded that I was not important but that my mother was. Even with a new born baby and under doctor’s orders, I still came last. I avoided thinking about that reality just yet though.
That event ended up to be somewhat of a new beginning. It was then that I began to face that something was really wrong with the way that my mother treated me. I didn’t quite realize that something was wrong with her, but I knew something was “wrong.” It took about 14 more years before I drew the necessary boundaries but something significant happened that day. I think a little hole got chopped in the lifetime of fog that I had lived in.
Remembering dysfunctional moments and situations like this one has helped me to see the dysfunctional mother daughter relationship that I had with my mother through clear eyes and through the grid of truth. These truth based recollections have helped me to realize that I was not the one that was wrong, that it was not ME that had unreasonable expectations, and that I truly was not valued or regarded with human kindness or respect. Even sick and with a new born baby, I still did not qualify. She still came first. She still got to decide the way things would be. And suddenly, in my mid thirties, I realized that something was “wrong” with this picture.
Exposing the Truth that set me Free;
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