Being angry at your mother
My mother loves to play games. She has to have all the attention all the time. And she loves to compete with me. Being an only daughter, shy and very insecure means that I never found my voice to stand up for myself. At least not as a child. But, she still loves to play games. Shall I give you a few examples?
I tell my mother I’ve joined gym, as I need to get fit and start exercising and try losing some weight. She has a total hissy fit about it, then joins a weight loss program (the details of which she will not give me) and continually asks me, “Have you lost weight?” Seriously, I have enough weight issues of my own, without adding all this to the mix. No wonder I have such anxiety about losing weight. Flip. (Yes, this is the same mother who took me to a doctor for anorexia when I had never, ever in my life been on a diet to lose weight. And then admonished me for eating a chocolate cake, because I’d get fat. I was about 16 at the time. No wonder…)
Anyway, let me get to the point of my story – she comes to visit us every Tuesday night. So, last night it is cold and raining, but when I phone her to ask if she is still coming, “Of course, I’ll be there.”
When she eventually arrives, she walks in, sighs and tells no one in particular about the bad she’s had, how bad the driving is and how she just can’t do this anymore. Then she says she won’t be staying for supper, as she just can’t be out this late. Sigh. So, I tell her she must do whatever makes her happy and if she wants to leave now, and then she must. The next thing she is staying for supper, bathing our daughter and she will see me next week. All because I didn’t give in to the attention seeking. I am so confused sometimes about how to handle her.
So, this is my prayer – to be the wife my husband needs me to be. To be the mother my daughter needs me to be. And to be the daughter that my mother needs me to be – which means that I don’t take all her game playing, that I be honest with her to help her get over herself.
This is a letter I wrote to my mother about two years ago and very little has changed since then. It just makes me angry.
To my mother,
I love you so much. We have always been so close and have had such a good relationship over the years, but it seems now with our daughter’s arrival in this world, that has now changed. And I’m not totally sure I can clearly articulate or understand the reasons why.
I thought perhaps I should make clear to you some of the issues where misunderstandings have occurred – perhaps I am missing something. I don’t know. What I do know is that I miss our closeness, and I miss having you to rely on. You’re simply not available to help and assist with our daughter like I thought you would be. In fact, hubby and I used to joke that we’d have to hide and pretend we’re not home because we thought you’d practically move in with us. Alas, the opposite has happened. Yet, when my brother and his then wife had their kids, they used to sit outside drinking coffee and having a cigarette while you fed, bathed and put to bed their three children. I know that you say you didn’t have a choice, but you did. And yet, with our daughter, you resist feeding her, you resist bathing her – you come over for five minutes to play with her and then leave. How will that build a lasting relationship with her? I just don’t understand.
It is very important to me that you and our daughter have a good relationship. Perhaps because I didn’t have a good relationship with my only Granny that I knew – she always saw me as the black sheep of the family. And I know the yearning I had for a Granny I could turn to. Is it asking too much for you to be part of our daughter’s life so that she can have what I feel like I missed out on? I know that you think I just say the opposite of what you want to do to be difficult, but that isn’t even close to the truth. I thought I’d cite some examples:
- Yesterday, you took our daughter’s shirt off because it was so hot. I didn’t say anything because I actually didn’t have the energy for another confrontation with you. And I am glad that when Hubby got home, he did say something. You see, our daughter has been chesty for a while now and we don’t want her running around without a shirt on. I’m not saying this against what you want to do, but because it is the best for our daughter.
- You keep taking her dummy and taggy away from her – seriously, she is only 20 months old. If it offers her some sort of comfort, both Hubby and I are actually quite pleased for her to have it. If by the time she turns three or four, she still has it, well, we will do something about it then. I know you don’t agree, but she is ONLY 20 months old – she too young to have your comfort taken away from her like that.
- When you do come over, you immediately open every single window and door in our house, because you’re hot. But, the thing is this – we have the doors closed because I like to feed our daughter BEFORE she goes out to play. Once she has had her supper, she can play outside for three hours for all I care (well, okay, maybe not quite, but at least until bath time). If she goes outside before she’s eaten, we have a screaming match to get her inside again. Yes, I know I am the mommy, but I really don’t want to face a screaming match every day to feed her. It’s easier for me this way. Is it really that difficult to wait half an hour or so, just so that I can feed her and then open the sliding door?
- I know that the cleanliness of our house is not up to your standard – you keep reminding us of that all the time. Here’s the thing – we will always have dogs and they will always be part of the family and will always be allowed inside. I think it is extremely healthy for kids to grow up with animals. And whilst I know you don’t approve, this just simply isn’t going to change.
- You keep saying, “I know you guys like to do things your way, but when I was raising my kids I did this and this.” Here’s the thing – I will never do things your way. Why? Well, because simply I am not you. I cannot think like you or work like you, just like you cannot think like me or work like me. We are two unique individuals and I have to raise our daughter in a way that works for me. I know that you suggested to Hubby that we put the mattress down in front of the TV on a Saturday afternoon for our daughter to take her nap, because that is what you used to do. But, the thing is this – our daughter will nap for maybe 30 minutes and I seriously don’t want her watching that much TV or get into the habit of falling asleep in front of the TV. If I put our daughter in her cot, she’ll nap for an hour or two, and wake up ready to face the rest of the day and play with her toys. Once again, why is this even an issue?
I discussed via Skype a little while ago about getting a professional baby sitter in – your response really surprised me. I did not expect a simple “okay.” And yes, I know you live a full life and I know it is unfair to expect one person to handle all our baby sitting requirements, so from that point of view, it’s probably a good idea to get someone in that we can trust to help with Our daughter.
But, it has been incredibly unfair on me. You refuse to come while our daughter is still awake or to help feed and bath her and put her down. The result is that I have to do everything, plus still get ready and still try be on time for whatever function we’re going to. A little while ago, we were invited to a restaurant to celebrate a friend’s 40th. You didn’t want us to go when the invite stated, because you wanted me to put our daughter down first. The result was that Hubby and I were almost 45 minutes late with everyone waiting for us before the first course could be served. Why – what is the issue with helping with our daughter so that I can get ready and be on time for an event we’ve been invited to? Seriously, we go out perhaps twice a month at the most – this is not an every weekend thing that we want you to look after our daughter. Once again, am I missing something here? I just don’t understand.Is it too much to ask for you to support me in raising my one and only little girl – even if you don’t agree? Is it too much to ask that you help me have a little bit of a social life and enjoy some time with Hubby when you’ve agreed to baby sit? I absolutely freak out at the idea of having a stranger look after our daughter, but what choice to we have? On Saturday night, we were over an hour late for our function, because you didn’t want to feed or bath our daughter – in fact, you only arrived after she had gone down. Then I still had to get ready and still try make it on time. I know that you said it was stupid to have a dinner at 18:30 but I don’t agree. We’re being invited out – it’s not up to us to dictate what time someone else must hold their function. So, perhaps a stranger looking after our daughter will help – someone who could feed and bath, while I get ready, someone who could help put her down so Hubby and I can be on time and actually enjoy a stress-free time away.
I know you keep saying that you raised your three children on your own, but you actually didn’t, did you? You worked morning’s only for the first part, had a live-in nanny that worked for you three days a week and your mother was around and living with us to help. And while I don’t want to compare because each situation is so very different, Hubby and I are really battling financially at the moment. We can’t afford a nanny, in fact, we can barely afford our daughter’s school fees, never mind the potty she needs or the bedside bars to get her into a big bed. We’re working around the clock to try make additional income and we have no support.
I really had hoped things would be different, but remember, no matter what happens or has happened, or whatever confusion or misunderstandings there may be, I love you very, very much. I really do.
Another post from another blog I manage, also explains fully what I am talking about:
I love my mom. I do, and I know that she loves me. And she has been great in lending me clothes to wear while I am too large to fit into my own clothes (yes, our daughter is almost 20 months old). And she has been fantastic in buying our daughter things that we need – like the pram, clothes, bedding, etc. I can‘t fault my mom on any of that. In that way, she’s been the most amazing blessing.
Sometimes I just need time. I need to know that I can leave our daughter with her and take a time out and it’ll all be okay. At the moment I can’t do that. It’s a fight every time. Let me give you an example: she comes to visit our daughter every Tuesday night, with the idea to feed her and bath her and spend some quality time with her. I mistakenly thought that this would be time that hubby and I can then spend together, even if we stay at home. However, the reality is that I land up feeding her and bathing her, while my mother either chats to hubby, on her phone or watches Sewende Laan on SABC 2. So, you can see why I’m a little confused.
Another thing that is really irking me is that my mother will walk into our house and basically re-arrange EVERYTHING we do. I mean everything – on Saturday I had a bad case of Gastro (Our daughter had it on Thursday) and I was man-down. So, I SMSd my mother to come over to help with our daughter, because hubby had put his back out. So, she arrives about two hours later, and insists on taking our daughter for a walk and gets angry with me when I say no. I said no because it was about 34 degrees (way too hot to be outside) and our daughter is battling with a cold. It was such an issue. Anyway, she didn’t take our daughter for a walk, it was just too hot.
Another example – she’ll pop in at 17:00 to visit our daughter and want to take her for a walk or play in the park. I have no problem with this, in fact, I encourage it. But, 17:00 is our daughter’s suppertime. What I would want is for our daughter to eat first, then she can play to her heart’s content until bathing time. However, my mom flips out – she can have supper later? Why is it such an issue?
I feel like I’m fighting on all fronts just to be able to raise and do with our daughter the way I see best. Is it really such a big deal to want to feed our daughter FIRST and then let her play? Want another example? We have a sliding door leading onto the garden. When I’m feeding Our daughter, I usually keep this closed as there is no way to keep her inside when there exists the possibility of her being outside. So, I close the sliding door, feed her, then open the sliding door and let her play outside. What does my mother do? Open the sliding door first thing and what does our daughter do? Go right outside to play. Then it’s a huge battle to get her inside to have her supper. Surely, we can wait five or ten minutes for our daughter to eat first? It’s just such a battle.
On Saturday, the dog beds were thrown outside, sliding door opened, hubby’s cycling clothes tidied (not sure what that has to do with looking after our daughter) and everything rearranged and changed within five minutes of her arriving. It drove me mad. All I wanted was for her to watch our daughter for an hour or two, so that hubby and I could sort ourselves out. Am I asking too much?
Oh, and the comment, “I know you like to do this and this that way, but when I was raising you kids, I did it this way”. Yeah, I get that – but I’m not you and you are not me. I have the right to do things my way. Simply because I am me.
Anyway, I hope this explains the complex relationship I have with my mother. I need to break away from the game playing, be true to myself and try build a genuine relationship with my mother – even if, for now, it is only one sided.
I am currently reading a book called Emotional Gravity by Angela de Souza. It is an excellent book, and although I have only just started the book, I can sense that I am already benefiting from the book. In it, she speaks about (well, what I have read thus far) how to train your mind, your emotions and your thoughts to be positive and not to focus on the negative. She speaks about how you need to look at the reasons for why you feel the way you do – forgive who you need to forgive and move on. And in moving on, you will sometimes have the old negative feelings and thoughts creeping through, you need to distract yourself and continually train your mind on what is positive and good.
She uses the example of a woman who grew up in a household where her father abused her mother, and totally belittled her. Her father would have numerous “girlfriends” and as a result, this woman grew up very insecure concerning her relationships with men. And even though she now has a husband who loves and adores her and is faithful to her, her insecurities rise up and mess in her marriage. She is suspicious of her husband, and constantly fights with him about his “flirting” with other women. She needs to realise where her insecurity comes from, and start training her mind to see her husband as he really is – someone who loves her and is faithful to her. It is this training of the mind that is so difficult, because all the negative and old insecurities can come creeping though at any moment. It is almost like being an alcoholic, in that you always have to be constantly aware of what can creep through to your conscious mind and you need to squash it out immediately. If you’re not attending to the roses in your garden, weeds will creep through without you even seeing them. You have to be vigilant.
I have been teased and ridiculed for being skinny my whole life and my parents would take me to a psychologist for being anorexic, and then moan at me the very next day for eating some cake because I’d get fat. My issues now with weight loss and being scared to lose weight stems directly from my childhood. However, I need to realise where my insecurity comes from, and then forgive my parents and all those who teased me and then comes the difficult part – train my thoughts, emotions and feelings to react positively. So, when someone compliments me and tells me I have lost weight, instead of reacting with fear and anxiety, I react positively and graciously and simply say, “Thank you.” That is what I need to train my mind, heart and thoughts to do. If I’m going to constantly think I’m going to have a meltdown when someone tells me I’ve lost weight, well then, that is exactly what I can expect to happen. However, if I train my mind and my emotions to be positive – even roll playing here could help – and to react graciously, then when someone tells me I have lost weight, I can actually take that as a compliment. Make sense?
Well, and now we get to my epiphany…
I was wondering where all my anxiety and fear came from, especially concerning my marriage. Well, the home environment that I grew up in was stressful and full of anxiety and if I had $ 1 for every time my parents threatened divorce or I heard that they’re only staying because of me (not my brothers, just me) I’d be a pretty wealth woman today. That is a lot of pressure for a young child – especially a shy and insecure child as is – to handle. So, all I knew growing up was this anxiety and stress (do not get me wrong, there were some good times, but they were totally overshadowed by this constant stress and anxiety). And that is all I know now. Now, I need to forgive my parents, and myself, and move forward. And start training my mind to think positively and manage all those “weeds” in my rose garden – I am not my mother. Nor is my husband my father. And we live in a relatively peaceful home – this is not the home of my childhood. And I need to keep training my mind; my thoughts and my emotions to think along those lines, until the anxiety of the past and the stress of my childhood no longer have any effect on me.
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body…
The Two Posters
On the second poster, on the right, it says in bright, beautiful colours:
Love, peace, patience, friendship, romance, truth, righteousness, purity, loveliness, faith, admiration…
What do you think will fill your heart and mind if you stare at the poster on the left?
What do you think will fill your heart and mind if you stare at the poster on the right?
For far too long, I have been staring at the poster on the left. I have been filling my heart, my thoughts, my mind with so much negativity by just focusing on all these negatives – fearing the fact that I may be feeling a little anxious, fearing another panic attack, fearing that I am living the wrong life, fearing that I’m not going to eat, that I am going to get sick and die, hiding in shame at the weight I’ve gained and am battling to lose, hiding in shame with my parent’s divorce, feeling overwhelmed by lack of sleep, a stressful job and major financial issues…
No wonder I have been feeling so anxious, with a constant tension of something being wrong, just waiting for that boulder to come down the hill and hit me, or the bus to crash.
If I keep putting so much stress and negativity into everything I say, do, think and feel – then I can quite honestly only expect anxiety, panic attacks, and lots of negativity.
I think it is about time I step away from the poster on the left, take a side step, and start focusing on the poster on the right.
Let me think about all the love in my life and how incredibly blessed I am to have a husband and daughter who love me so much. Or focusing my energies on feeling peace and love. Or injecting some romance into my marriage. Or having some faith that perhaps I am exactly where God wants me to be. Or a little faith that everything will work out just as its meant to in the end, I mean, doesn’t God tell us:
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
And doesn’t He tell us to think properly?
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
I think it is with good reason that the good Lord above has told us to watch our thoughts and our thinking patterns.
As Joyce Meyer says, “You cannot have a positive life thinking negative thoughts.”
Easier said than done – I think we are all prone to be drawn towards the negative. The negative somehow gives us a skewed meaning of life, but makes life feel more real. That is such a lie – I’m just sorry I’m only realising that now as I head into my 40’s. I suppose better late than never…