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… 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… 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.

87 thoughts on “Stomping My Feet

  1. I can relate. Firstly we are nearly identical in ages, and secondly I have a parent with views I disagree with but won’t discuss with him because it would be spitting in the wind. No, so I keep to the safe subjects. Then we have nice visits, and sometimes you plow around the stump. ha ha

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This was the best read!!!! I can relate to this on so many levels. My dad and mom are working together on spreading negative vibes everywhere they go. My mom is so critical, and I always asked her, “why is it so hard for you to be nice and say I love you”? I never even remember a hug from her. She will shy away from showing love and acceptance.
    I was scared that I would inherit that trait, but thank the Lord,​ I didn’t. We constantly hug in this house and express love.

    I’m sure you will never end up like your mother! Keep up the excellent work!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! But having a critical parent is so hard. It eats away at your self esteem and makes you question everything you do. I’m actually amazed I walk upright…..

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yikes. 🙂

    My mom’s cousin married a woman like that. Her two kids were brought up that way and she still pulls the strings on the adult grand kids. She would tell my mom that us being educated in the public system is terrible (her special flowers went to catholic school), and that she shouldn’t allow us to walk/bike/take transit to anywhere, it’s not safe…

    Well all of us (myself and my two siblings) went on to University, graduated, and in some cases went beyond (Masters, etc). Her kids? Grade 12. Her grand kids? Not even. All work in retail (nothing wrong with that) and quit every few months (see your previous posts), one has an autistic baby out of wedlock (which doesn’t bother me but bothers the catholic mama). When the doctors told the mom of autistic toddler to socialize him and put him in at least a part time nursery all hell broke loose with grandma. Kid is now talking (18 months late, bec he was never socialized properly due to all this fear that everything outside is bad). Still autistic but living a more ‘regular’ lifestyle for a kid his age.

    Grandma is not happy.

    And it’s still going on. Sigh.

    But she’s too old to listen now… 🙂

    Tell your mom a little fib. Tell her ‘daughter has had several boyfriends, she just didn’t want to tell anyone’… lol (I’m just kidding. Last thing you need is more trouble.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was chillingly mirror image to phone conversations with my father. He is remarried and living in Tampa now, and we talk maybe once a month. I need the other twenty nine or thirty days to decompress!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? I can talk to my mom twice a month. The holiday season is agonizing…..I need January to recover and decompress…’s crazy! But as I state, you and I are both functioning adults, so the will to overcome obstacles is great….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry, truly because I do understand both growing up with and now continuing to live with the constant criticism and emotional abuse. Mine came with maternal alcoholism so the ties were easier to cut, and (I think I may have mentioned this before) that is exactly what I had to do for myself and my kids.
    I have no advice except that I hope there comes a moment that you can allow yourself the power to stand up, and I will say that unfortunately mom won’t change- ever.
    I offer up sympathy and hugs and hope because you are a good parent and an amazing person.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m sure this is a challenge, although I cannot relate to it. I can only remember a few things my mom ever said to me that felt intrusive or not what I would have hoped she’d say. We used to talk every day and spent a lot of time together when I was a new mom.
    She died almost twenty years ago and not a day passes that I don’t wish I could talk to her about what’s going on in my life, in my children’s lives, and I can only imagine how much she’d love her new great granddaughter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it’s wonderful that you had a rewarding relationship with your mom. It’s what I hope I’m achieving with my daughter because really, it’s nice to have the acceptance and soft place to land….

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sorry about how your mother treats you. It’s weird to say the least, but it seems like you nailed her with: AND WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS ABOUT YOU? If she has done that for decades, then I’d guess she’s not going to change now. You could always just not talk with her. That’d solve your problem, ‘ya know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve talked to her. And her response is that one day I’ll realize how smart she is and how much she knows. So I need to accept who she is and deal with it. Some days are just harder than others though. So I write about it, and I feel better, and then I won’t talk to her till thanksgiving


  8. Wow, my mom was so wonderful. My dad was challenging to deal with and my brothers stopped speaking to him before he died. I kept the dialogue going. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. I find some of my relatives and extended family toxic but I try to limit my time with them as they might not change anytime soon. It helps to be empathetic but if you are too empathetic, your feelings are dragged down. I struggle from this often. Sometimes you have to say, “It is what it is” and move forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sounds like your mom is a worrier, and this may get even worse as she ages. What feels like criticism might be (at least in part) a concern about those she loves. Would it have helped you to express that her comments made you feel like she was saying you weren’t an effective parent? Maybe she won’t be happy unless she knows that you’re worrying about your daughter, too? The mother/daughter relationship sure can be tricky. I miss my mom every single day, but she was often challenging. I sometimes hear her voice in my ears while I offer my own daughters (what I intend as) helpful advice:)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My mom is a worrier and filled with anxiety. She is also a control freak and narcissistic. This is a very bad cocktail for relating to others. I’ve said to her (regarding her parenting hen I was younger) when you did X, it made me feel Y and therefore I did Z, which wasn’t healthy or sound emotionally. Her response is always that she did the right thing then and would do it again now. I need to accept who she is because she’s never changing. I have to try to change how I react to her, which is often difficult. I’ve kept this bottled inside for a few days, but that was very unhealthy for me, and honestly, since i blogged it out I feel better more in control of myself and better. It’s that thing, admit what the problem is, and then you can come to terms with it

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh my goodness…….this is my favorite blog post, from anyone, of all time! You just summed up my life with my mother in just a few paragraphs……….I didn’t think it could be done, but you did it! 🙂 I now feel heard!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’d say that we somehow ended up with the same mother, but I’m not sure that is physically possible considering where we live. I still have my doubts. Maybe they are actually clones. I will state again that there are reasons I no longer speak to my family and the core of what you posted is such a huge part of it. I just got to the point where there was no good at all left to fight for, so why was I hanging on to the bad, especially when that bad was beginning to hit my kids so hard. I have no advice for you on this at all. I can only share what I’ve gone through and my choices in an effort to let you know you are so not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ah yes, I’ve been shown by my kids that I react sometimes to situations the way my mom does. Going in to San Francisco by themselves even as adults I would always give that “be careful the city is dangerous” piece of advice. Similarly my mom says to me “You went to the city to see that? Aren’t you afraid?”

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  13. 😀 😀 Had some drama with my MIL recently, then my mother the next day. They’re not even as obviously manipulative as yours, and I retreated to my room with chocolate and the desire to angrily write about them on my blog (which is not allowed, since I use my own name).

    I will say that things have gotten better (for me) since at least recognizing their tactics.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Even weeks before my mom died she could trigger me. Even knowing that she was terminally ill she said things that made me want to scream. The relationship between mothers and daughters is the most complicated of all.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. For a long time I thought it was weird that whenever my family got together, after we were all older, that we all seemed to fall back into the old patterns of behavior from when we were children. I remained the baby of the family, and couldn’t possibly know what I was doing or have gained any wisdom. I think it finally changed when I was in my 40s. What I don’t like is the passive-aggressive stuff. All of the insinuations, like they know better, “but if you say so . . . .blah, blah, blah.” “And I’m only saying . . . .” “Just trying to help, but I guess you know best . . .” I hate that stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Don’t worry. I dont think you’ll be or are anything close to your mother. You’re an awesome mom who raised an awesome daughter who happen to have to deal with person who doesnt have any clue who either of you are. Keep moving forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The button pushers in life are interesting. You probably could have had that same conversation with a friend and been fine. They seem to pull out our insecurities. My mom and my son were both my button pushers. My mom wasn’t controlling and we had a good relationship but she could still push that button sometimes. Glad you were able to vent.


  18. My mother definitely pushes my buttons. I know I get overly defensive too, after 63 years of her opinions about everything. There are so many things I don’t tell her because of that, which is sad. I know she loves me but we are nothing alike and I can only take so much of her. She reads my blog so I can’t use it to vent about her!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean. I can’t have conversations with mine because she reads (incorrectly) into everything I say, and builds her own little scenario and tries to solve it. So hard to maintain a relationship like this

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Oh brother! So sorry. I cannot relate to this, but it sounds so frustrating. I often felt glossed over as a kid because my brother outshined me. I find myself reverting to my suckie middle child feelings when my folks focus on my ‘amazing’ brother and ooze about how great he is. Puke. I hate how their approach can still undo me. Your daughter sounds amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I feel your pain. Recently my mom did something unbelievable and embarrassing to me professionally. She saw nothing wrong with what she did. It really makes me put the hard walls up. Your mom has good traits but sometimes it’s really hard to see them with all the other #*#*!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This was (at your expense I’m afraid), interesting for me to read – as were all the responses. I guess I never thought about the fact that many other people had moms similar to mine. (My parents are both deceased now.) She was very critical of me, (as was my father,) and I was pretty much never good enough … not just as a child/teen, but as an adult as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. My mother-in-law was a awful lot like your mother. My husband solved the problem by rarely if ever telling her anything that was going on. Unfortunately, this is what happens when people insert their opinions into everything. Realize she’s the problem, not you.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Wow!!! Hearing things of those natures makes me appreciate my mother. I’m very sorry you’ve had to and continue to go thru this. I’m sure you are nothing like this to your own daughter. This is an amazing read about how sometimes people can make you feel small no matter your age.

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  24. It is amazing how some words, or sometimes even a look, for our mothers can turn us into a child again. I think the trick is to recognize it when it is happening, and firmly remind yourself that you are NOT a child anymore, and you definitely don’t need your mother’s approval anymore. Easier said than done, I know, but self-awareness can go a long way. So can putting a little distance between you and the people who are bothering you, which you did nicely by ending that phone call.
    As to whether you’re doing the same thing to your daughter, I highly doubt it. Your awareness of the whole situation says otherwise!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Yup, distance helps with sanity if not with the guilt. But she’s probably too old to change (even if she wanted to) as is my own mother. I now prioritise my own mental health, and push back the guilt. My mother has applied to relocate to the US to live with one of my sisters over there, because those of us here in the UK won’t live with her again & she hates living alone. I’ve done a ton of work on empathy & understanding that her behaviour was learned from her parents, but still make sure that I protect my daughter & granddaughter from her negative aspects. That way they get to have a relationship with her that isn’t tainted. It’s a tough gig. Most important being that we break the cycle of negative parental behaviour & make our own parenting mistakes.

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  26. I had the opposite problem growing up, I was the youngest and my mother felt that I was the smartest and most responsible so she really need not spend time worrying about me. I graduated HS as a junior and since I was going to college she finally was able to realize her dream of moving to her house in Maine which she did on my last day of school, came back for graduation though. So towards the end of her life when she lived in an in-law apartment we built she felt it beholden upon herself to somehow rate everything I did. I wasn’t particular enough about the food I bought, I was critical of her (actually told me I was just a little bitch), and I was too bossy to name a few. I would be in tears most days. Parents try to be different from their parents and I know I am. Your daughter has a good head on her shoulders and knows that you are there for her no matter what, doing pretty well from what I can see.

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