Tuesday, January 24, 2006


It has been well documented on this blog that the relationship between my mother and her children is rocky, to say the least. Well, brace yourselves, because I need to have another crack at externalising the impotent rage this constant war of attrition engenders in me.

As I may have mentioned before, mine and Fifi’s (and our brother Bobs’) parents did a swap with my Australian Stepsister’s (AS’s) parents when we were all sort of small. AS and I ended up with my mother and AS’s father, whilst Fifi, Bobs and impending smallest sister won our father and AS’s mother. Just your typical seventies wife swap. Nothing to see here. Around five or six years ago, AS had a heart to heart with her mother (my stepmother – are you keeping up at the back?) regarding my mother’s treatment of AS when we were small. As a result of this, both AS and my stepmother severed all ties with my mother. Despite the fact that my loyalties might seem to obviously lie with my mother, I am firmly on the side of AS. Imagine it, if you can. AS was four years old. An only child, she was abruptly separated from her mother and sent to live with her father, a new stepsister (me) and a stepmother. This sort of thing happens all the time, and I’m sure that occasionally it has a happy ending. Except that my mother isn’t really predisposed towards kindness, and has no clue when it comes to empathy. Instead of doing all she could to ease AS into her new family, and reassuring all the children concerned that this could be a success, she instead treated AS worse than you or I would treat an animal. Please bear in mind that at this stage three children were without their natural mother. Fifi and Bobs were lucky enough to be living with my stepmother who I am closer to these days than I am to my own mother. Impending smallest sister also came up trumps. Which left AS and I adrift in the heavy seas of our parents’ marriage.

From the outset, battle lines were firmly drawn. I was three when all this happened, and my mother made it clear to me from the outset that it was me and her against my stepdad and AS. I’m not clear on exactly what went on at the beginning as I was very young, but I remember AS being fed bread and water (for refusing to eat - it still staggers me that at no point did anyone consider that two small children were traumatized and maybe needed some nurturing), being ignored for no reason that she or I could fathom, and being generally treated with contempt. This continued in one form or another (ours was a tempestuous household, ruled by fear, alcoholism and violent arguments) until AS and I left home (somewhat involuntarily) as soon as we could. We struggled on uneasily in our fractured family unit until, as I’ve said, things were brought sharply into focus with my stepmother learning exactly how my mother had treated AS as a child. The outcome was inevitable – my mother was effectively disowned by AS, and told in no uncertain terms by my stepmother that she was no longer welcome in their house, or around them at all. Any decent person might at this point have tried to understand and acknowledge what had led to this ultimatum. Not my mother though.

My mother’s immediate reaction was to trot out the “poor me”. As time has gone on and as her mind has grown more fixated on the past, so she has become obsessed with old, dead relationships. AS and her husband have just become the proud parents of a baby boy. My mother is relentless in her enquiries over his health, AS’s situation, her husband’s family. It’s impossible to spend more than five minutes in her company without deflecting questions, whether about this, or my father (who she has been divorced from for thirty years), or my stepfather (AS’s dad, who my mother divorced ten years ago and hasn’t spoken to since). The fact of the matter is that my mother is losing her marbles, and sadly none of her children care enough to be upset by it. She consistently puts Fifi and I in impossible situations regarding her incessant interest in people who have cut her off. Our brother Bobs lives in America and will spend the next few years desperately fending off suggestions of a visit from her, as he can’t stand spending time with her. Things are going to come to a head in the next few days, as she has asked Fifi to give her a picture of AS’s new baby. Fifi can’t do that, and has had to explain gently to our mother why this is. My mother will ring me and cry.

The bottom line is that I can’t stand this. I am an adult. I have a daughter of my own. My mother has consistently let me and her other children down. She relies on us to shore her up emotionally, with no thought that we might be the ones needing some support. Over the years, I have learned to hate her. It saddens me beyond belief to say this. I have friends who have lost their mothers and wish every day for the chance to spend more time with them. Frankly, and this is going to sound terrible, I can’t wait for mine to drop dead and stop making my life a fucking misery.

I would give anything to not feel this way.

Carry on.


Blogger Fifi chimed in with...

You are so right about everything and have described it perfectly in all its fucked up glory.
Makes me mad, makes me sad.

It's no wonder we are now both currently divorcing - what real chance did we have to get it right first time with such fuckwittery behind us?
At least with us our children will ALWAYS come first and will ALWAYS know they are loved and treasured beyond measure x

24 January, 2006 19:51  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

...and hopefully you both have other half's that want nothing more than to give you both the happiness such a torrid upbringing now deserves. I for one will spend my life making SG as impossibly happy as she makes me.

Hope to see you soon Fifi Sis...keep smiling xxx

24 January, 2006 20:07  
Blogger belladona chimed in with...

I really do know how you feel. Bless her heart, but my mother was a total psycho who behaved in a way which you would have thought would have brought the full force of the social services upon us. But no. Then she did die and horrible though it is to say it, I was far better off. Well, once I'd got away from my second lot of psycho family anyway. I've spent a good few years struggling with the inevitable guilt but the relief mostly supercedes it.
Gosh - January - the season for venting.

BTW, other half seems eminently worth hanging on to, though I'm guessing you don't need me to tell you that.

24 January, 2006 21:22  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

bella, thank you. it's a tough thing to face, realising that you wish a parent dead or are relieved that they are. give me some insight - mail me on the address on my profile....

24 January, 2006 21:35  
Blogger funny thing chimed in with...

It's amazing that people are so resiliant. You've done well to turn out so well-balanced (don't put yourself down, here) and to be such a loving parent to Small Person.

I've got a very controlling and I think, mentally ill mum. My dad is quite ill. There are times that I have thought that he would be better off dead just to end his poor, crappy life.

Those aren't words easily spoken, either.
I'm glad you've got a fantastic other half to be your support.
I know from experience how important that is.

24 January, 2006 22:00  
Blogger Kyahgirl chimed in with...

((((Surly girl))))
♥ ♥ ♥

Sometimes you just have to decide that your parents did they best they could with what they knew and just let them go. Doesn't mean you have to ever try to see her again (can you bring yourself to sever all ties?) Doesn't mean you have to say its 'ok'. Just means you can give yourself the peace and freedom to leave it behind, in the ugly past, where it belongs.

You are a strong, kind, funny, smart, and determined woman. I admire that. You and OH and SP deserve a happy future together.
I don't see anything wrong with wishing your mother out of your life or dead. It looks like she only contributed the requisite number of chromosomes and not much else.

♥ ♥ ♥

24 January, 2006 23:15  
Blogger the Beep chimed in with...

What Kyah said.
And I share the problem of a totally disfunctional family and loose cannon parent. Since my son came along I have levered myself into a position of total control: he sees his grandfather, but on my terms totally. And this has allowed me a degree of freedom from ... well from that THING that parents have.
I too await closure. But I also fear it, and the pain it will bring that he is never going to say sorry, or feel any remorse.
Your painful post touched me deeply.

25 January, 2006 00:01  
Blogger mig bardsley chimed in with...

I absolutely agree with Kyahgirl. You've had a rotten deal and you've done fantastically well.
I think maybe part of the trouble is you didn't really have a mum but you can't help giving her another chance to be one.
Is it possible to accept that she can't/won't? Just think of yourself as an orphan. Whatever it was that made her unfit to be your mother wasn't your fault and isn't your responsibility.
Wish I could give you a big hug.

25 January, 2006 01:07  
Blogger Whinger chimed in with...

Excellent post despite the rotten topic (rotten being your mother, not the fact that you despise her).

I think you feel quite rightly, and also believe you to be an amazing person and writer. And mother, for that matter.

Keep on. Think happy thoughts, take vitamins, and drink lots of water so you can stay healthy and outlive her for many, many years.

25 January, 2006 06:46  
Anonymous Stu Savory chimed in with...

Ah well, now I understand your chosen moniker "Surly Girl" :wry grin:

Philip Larkin (1922-1980) summed it up well in his poem
"This be the Verse", I've a copy here: http://www.savory.de/larkin.htm

25 January, 2006 08:48  
Blogger Donna chimed in with...

I just hope that nobody can see me blubbing at my desk ...

25 January, 2006 09:36  
Blogger No one Really chimed in with...

You couldn't fit all that on a Postcard could you?


25 January, 2006 09:56  
Blogger the Beep chimed in with...

MIG hits nail firmly on head.
Extremely well put. And technique proposed effective. Promise.

25 January, 2006 09:56  
Anonymous Grob chimed in with...

You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family...luckily you are blessed with a load of friends who care for you and are always here for you! Also The Other Half...who quite obviously adores you and loves you beyond belief!
We all think your great Surly Girl!
Without you my days at work would lose 80% of it's laughter! xx

25 January, 2006 10:15  
Blogger frangelita chimed in with...

They do say you can't choose your family. But truthfully (honest, not being smug) if you did choose, I would choose my mum and dad cos they're pretty ace. When it comes to brothers, mind you...kidding. Families are still hard though and there's always going to be times when you get stuck in the middle. But OH sounds like a gem and you've got a great step-family so remember that when you feel sad/angry.

25 January, 2006 11:50  
Blogger zanna chimed in with...

and remember none of it is your fault, you've turned out so great despite everything, imagine how well SP will do with all the love surrounding her.

25 January, 2006 12:41  
Blogger Betty chimed in with...

There isn't some sort of law which states that you have to love your parents unconditionally, and wishing that one of them was dead isn't evil, given the horrible things that can happen within the family unit. Best to try to keep her at a distance as much as possible. Sorry if this sounds bloody patronising.

25 January, 2006 12:49  

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