Sunday, December 11, 2005

Mommy Dearest

Today was, well, beyond description. We went to lunch with my mother, Fifi Sis, her Other Half and their Smallest Minx. Highlights of the meal included:

  • My mother telling Fifi Sis it's best not to invite her to Smallest Minx's christening, due to the massive family rift caused by my mother which has rendered her unwelcome at family gatherings. The fact that no such christening is planned did not deter my mother from wringing every last drop of faux-torture and projected guilt from this imagined selfless act.
  • My mother announcing that she is buying a new car. This will be the third new car this year. My mother is unfamiliar with the concept of depreciation. My mother is familiar with the concept of massive maintenance payments from my ex-stepfather.
  • My mother explaining that the best way to introduce babies to solid food is to pin both arms to their sides and just sort of stuff the food into their mouths. My mother is unfamiliar with the concept of effective, loving child-rearing. My mother is not beloved by her children.
  • My mother announcing to the table that I lost my virginity at the age of eleven. My mother is unfamiliar with the concepts of dignity, social awareness and acute embarassment. She is also unfamiliar with the concept of truth. My mother is, apparently, mental.

I could go on, but frankly the two hours spent in the company of my mother have rendered me exhausted. On the one hand, it makes me sad that I don't really have any sort of relationship with her. She is utterly devoid of any interest in me, and sometimes I become irrationally convinced that I am part of a social experiment to see how far the mother-daughter relationship can be stretched and still survive. I am sad that she is unable to show any love, and I am sad that, should this change, I would be totally unable to accept love from her. It would make me cringe and fidget and want to run away. We rub along in a sort of prickly cold war, with the occasional skirmish related to her mentalness and inability to say anything nice at all, ever. I am sad that the emotional legacy she bequeathed me in my childhood is taking so fucking long for me to let go of. I am sad that, effectively, I have no real mother. I sort of want one. I sort of want someone to be interested in my life, to be proud of my achievements, to love me. I want someone who kept my school reports, who remembers things I did as a child with a smile, instead of only recalling the things I did that reflected badly on them. I want someone who understands that, when you're five or nine or twelve or fifteen, money, clothes and expensive holidays don't compensate for the lack of a stable, loving family. I want someone who would have chosen the happiness of her children over the material wealth of her own life. I want someone to feel affection for, instead of contempt and a longing for something more. But it's too late, and I could cry forever for that.

On the other hand, she's taught me what not to do while raising my own daughter, and for that at least I will be eternally grateful.

Oh, fuck it. Ignore me. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Carry on.


Blogger garfer chimed in with...

There are a lot of damaged people about who lacked parental love in childhood.

11 December, 2005 21:08  
Blogger GreatSheElephant chimed in with...

What he said. Not all of them end up damaged though - sounds like you are coping pretty well Surly even though it clearly hurts horribly.

11 December, 2005 21:20  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

I have one thing to thank her for...and that's without her I wouldn't have you, and that, my love, is priceless xxx

11 December, 2005 21:29  
Blogger funny thing chimed in with...

Aaaah. To what Other Half said.

Ouch. To the rest of it.

I must go away and think for a bit.......

11 December, 2005 21:34  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

does it help to know that motherhen (my mother) has a special affection for you?


(uncharacteristic) ((hugs))
UC x

11 December, 2005 21:49  
Anonymous Piggy and Tazzy chimed in with...

Hmmm. Is other half invoking some kind of insurance policy there?

As for the rest of it... I'm ignoring you.

*carries on*

*or is it carrys on?*

And what the fuck is THAT word verification? PFIQMDPZ

12 December, 2005 00:56  
Blogger theclamwhisperer chimed in with...

Your Mommy Dearest blog is a wonderful piece. There is so much to get through with family...particularly when they seem to have a selective memory. I can imagine it is hard to hold your tongue.

When my kids were small I set them in front of the computer and told them to write down everything they disliked about me and how I'd raised them. I thought it might be therapeutic. Then I told them I would bind it if they ever considered having their own offspring and they'd have a reference of what not to do. For some naive reason I thought they'd say it was a corny exercise. Instead, they spent too many hours in front of the screen pounding their little fingers to pulp. It turned into a War and Peace sequel. I stopped reading a few pages in when one of them wrote..."and then mom said to me, "I know I'm supposed to be building self-esteem...just give me something to work with." Sometimes I think this parenting thing is over-rated...

12 December, 2005 02:09  
Blogger zanna chimed in with...

Small person is fantastic and so are you. There is some small comfort in that you haven't carried on her mistakes. I also think you are very brave x

12 December, 2005 08:16  
Blogger the Beep chimed in with...

There is life at the end of the tunnel. I have mused at length (all friends now suddenly busy when I ring) mainly with my sister over our dad: same scenario as you describe, but with reversed genders. We eventually arrived at the conclusion that some people just can't love, and that the roots of that go back and back through their parents and theirs and so on until it becomes a kind of madness. I think the other side of the tunnel is some kind of acceptance that that is how it is.

When I had my own child the whole balance changed over time, and now I am simply a conduit between Grandfather and Son, and a constant vigilant watcher over their relationship lest the old beast re-emerges. Duty is done for my son. My duties were done a long time ago.

Good luck with your journey.

12 December, 2005 10:02  
Blogger Homer chimed in with...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12 December, 2005 10:19  
Blogger Perry Neeham chimed in with...

It's painful when it's someone close to you, but, lets face it, some people are just as mad as a hatstand. It's not pleasant and it's cetainly not funny.

Options? Tough it out or shut her out.

I wouldn't have gone to lunch in the first place. Good on you for not taking what would be my, and the easier, option.

12 December, 2005 10:26  
Blogger GreatSheElephant chimed in with...

what the beep says is the basis of something I've been doing recently - the Hoffman process. Very helpful in dealing with a similar yet entirely different experience with my father.

12 December, 2005 10:44  
Blogger looby chimed in with...

I don't particularly enjoy raising children (I've got three) but I want them to want to see me when they're older. I find going to see my Dad as quite an obligation, and I can feel my stomach tensing all the time I'm there. Doesn't sound as bad as your mum though, who sounds a bit of a fruit loop :)

12 December, 2005 11:43  
Blogger mig bardsley chimed in with...

Oh Surly, that's rotten for you. I feel so sad for the little girl that you were.
I'm so impressed that you are able to give all that you missed out on to your OH and SP. Be proud of yourself. And kick the old lady out of your head...she doesn't deserve any space there.

12 December, 2005 11:43  
Blogger Kellycat chimed in with...

Changing the subject entirely, but catching you while in a bad mood, can I have your top ten worst musical acts please?

You know you've been waiting for this...

12 December, 2005 13:43  
Blogger the Beep chimed in with...

Crikey GSE - does it work?

12 December, 2005 13:44  
Blogger The Mincemeat Vixen chimed in with...

I felt the EXACT SAME WAY about my father and our (lack of a) relationship for many years. I eventually decided that it's just not worth feeling the sadness anymore, there was nothing to be gained by it and he'd already sucked a lot of joy out of me. Your mom's not going to change. You have a lot of good in your life. Let her go and move on, life's a lot freer and jubilant without the anvil that dragged you down the first 20+ years.

12 December, 2005 13:48  
Blogger GreatSheElephant chimed in with...

read my blog beep and form your own view of my mental health.

Um yes, I think so though

12 December, 2005 14:33  
Blogger Whinger chimed in with...

I'd happily rent my mother out. She has a place in her heart for children who received inadequate love as children.

That said, the people I admire most in the world are those who rise above indifference. I find that I seek their stories out with not a small trace of awe at their abilities to forgive and laugh off the atrocities committed by their parents/guardians. It's a refreshing change from people like me who complain that their mothers ruined their dishwashing SYSTEM at Thanksgiving. :)

This is one of the many reasons why I admire you and think you're wonderful and have a mild obsession with your writings.

12 December, 2005 19:18  
Blogger belladona chimed in with...

I no longer speak to any of my family for similar reasons. The main thing is you realise and understand and it sounds like you're working hard not to pass any of this rubbish on to small person. Go you.

12 December, 2005 19:43  
Blogger Kyahgirl chimed in with...

(((((surly girl))))
Not sure if you'r familiar with the multiple brackets representing hugs but they do!

Never forget you are worthy of high quality love from all quarter. The fact that your biological mother can't offer it is her weakness not yours. I hurt for the child you were and stand in awe of the woman you have become.


12 December, 2005 20:03  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

i just want to say a very humble and heartfelt thank you to all of you. for fucks sake, why can't i stop crying these days?

carry on.

12 December, 2005 20:07  
Blogger Juggling Mother chimed in with...

I seem to have come too late, but wanted to say well done for going to the lunch & work out whatever feels right to you to deal with her.

My father also appears to be completely devoid of interest in me (any of us) & uanble to love. I went through anger, hate and self loathing as a teenager, but have happily settled for the occasional duty visit & generalised disinterest.

My mother is a far more complicated relationship, as she (thinks she) likes me, but refuses to believe I can love Aggie or the kids & blames them for "stealing" me away from her.

Basically I'm trying to say that most people have strained relationships with their parents. They can never be exactly what we want. Some are worth working with & some are worth cutting your losses, but if you're not sure I'd always err on the side of caution, you never know how things will chage, and families are worth trying to keep.

12 December, 2005 21:56  
Blogger Soft Moon Shining chimed in with...

Gosh, your Post makes me unbelievably sad.
I'm fortunate to be the product of parents who love me unquestiongly and upon whose love and support I can always depend.
My childhood was one of laughter and cuddles and although there was never a huge amount of money available if it was physically possible for our parents to grant our wishes, it was done.
We have all grown up (I would like to think) unspoilt, generous, loving individuals who have tried to instill the same core values into our own children. Thus perpetuating the wonderful cycle created by our parents.
To come as far as you have done without this support is nothing short of a miracle and I applaud you, you have both my deepest respect and admiration.

14 December, 2005 20:55  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

thank you, sms, and welcome.....

15 December, 2005 09:14  
Blogger rockmother chimed in with...

Your mother sounds like she is the child and obviously needs alot of attention. I have a similar relationship with my mum and she had an even worse one with her mum and then I realised - she didn't really know how to be a parent because her mother had been so awful to her. Mind you, that is no excuse and I have a conscious daily battle to not be like that. And you sound like a marvellous person and a great mum - it's horrible to grieve for what you don't and probably will never have but you no doubt have alot to be happy for too. Sorry I didn't mean that to sound quite so crass as it did. You have to be a bit selfish which I always find quite hard as like yours, my mother is so bloody emotionally demanding and attention seeking - as well as drawing attention to me in front of others (even my other half) like yours does. It's so frustrating sometimes. Take good care x

20 December, 2005 00:34  

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