So here I am, closer to the right side of sixty than the wrong side of fifty, and my Mother can still make me retreat to a sulky adolescent. What’s the word people love to throw around, triggered? Yes- this would sum up what my Mother is still able to do to me. And today you’re going to hear about it.
My Mother was a helicopter parent long before it was fashionable. When other kids talk about their youth, and how they just ran around all day, I sit and listen with fascination, because that was not how it was in our house. I think I’m an avid reader because that was about the only thing my Mother thought was “safe” was sitting in your room with a book . Her biggest refrain was “What do you need to go outside for? What’s out there for you?” My Mother was (and still is) one billion percent sure that she was right about everything. There isn’t a topic that my Mother doesn’t know….. We don’t need to go into the years I spent trying to please her, and how that was a big, fat miserable failure…
But I digress…
Last week my Mother called, and the topic was my Daughter.
“Did you know”
I can still hear the exhale of smoke even though my Mother hasn’t smoked in thirty years, but I’ve heard this same song for so long I only have to figure out which lyrics will come next…
“…………….your daughter is doing volunteer work in an underprivileged school………”
And in my mind I’m like no ma, not at all, even though I talk to daughter every day and I had to sign a permission slip….
“Well you know, DC isn’t all designer shops and the Smithsonian”
Because again, I have no idea where my daughter goes to school or what a city is..
….it’s in a very bad neighborhood….
Well, how do you know how bad the area is? And really, what does it matter, because she’s an adult- maybe not when she started doing the volunteer work, but she is now, and she’s doing a good thing, helping kids who need help, and she’s done this since high school and she likes helping and WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS A BAD THING AND WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS ABOUT YOU? I didn’t say it in those words exactly, but you get the idea of my response… to which she replied:
“Well I guess you know everything. I’m just pointing out things to you, but I guess I don’t need to…”
Triggered. I could feel my body tense up, and I immediately began rubbing my left eye brow which is what I do when I’m stressed out because it is my self soothing mechanism (FYI- spot was practically bald when I was growing up)
Of course, this conversation led to:
You know…..it wouldn’t be bad if she dated….
Why why why do people think it’s bad if you’re not dating. And the worst part is, my Mother will SWEAR that she never gave my sister and I grief about not dating, or not having boyfriends, which lead to more angst about not being good enough…
“So you’re saying that she needs a boyfriend or girlfriend?”
I didn’t say that. I just said it wouldn’t be the worst thing…
Well, eventually she’s going to want to…
Maybe she won’t, maybe she will, who cares…..at this point I decided that the dog really needed to go out so I got off the phone because I couldn’t stand one more moment talking to her and figuring out what else she was going to have a problem with. All I wanted to do was stomp my feet, scream and have a really solid tantrum.
Why do parents have the capability to make you lose your cool?
My problem was, I felt like she was attacking my daughter’s choices, which no one does on my watch, because that is my baby and no one is allowed to say anything bad about her….especially her grandmother. Obviously, I also took it as a gut punch to my parenting skills, because obviously I’m doing something wrong. Which goes back to the whole my mother never approved of me and had unreal expectations and now my eyebrow is bald and I want to eat everything in the freezer except that all that is in there are little ziplocs of leftover ingredients that I had too much of when I cooked and who wants to have a spoon of tomato puree, a dash of chipotle in adobo, and a speck of ginger on top of a banana?
I need a drive thru therapist right now.
“Welcome to McShrink, what can I get you today?”
“I’ll have a mother doesn’t think I’m good at anything, along with a side of self doubt”
So yes. I might be a grown up verging on the senior citizen discount, but my mother still has the ability to make me feel like a child….I only hope I don’t do the same to my daughter.