People often tell me that I look like Susan Sarandon. I don’t thing that I do, and I don’t think she is particularly attractive, so I don’t really like when say that. I do not consider it a compliment.

My Mother, Sister and Niece were over the other day. They were recounting a story about my Mother having told a waitress that she looked like Jennifer Hudson.

Fine.

The ensuing conversation went someting like this:

Me: I know that you meant it as a compliment, but maybe the woman doesn’t think Jennifer Hudson is attractive.

Mother: But she is.

Me: But maybe she doesn’t think so. It might not be a compliment to her.

Mother: of course it is. Everyone wants to be told they look nice.

Which then evolved into me being crazy, the whole world has gotten ridiculous if you can’t give someone a compliment.

Me: But she might not, and however you look at it you’re in a superior position as the customer and she just has to laugh at everything you say because her tip is dependent on how much you like her. You should never put someone in that position.
Mother: Well I don’t consider myself superior (now consider this said in a negative, whiny, superior tone)

Mother: Well (imagine a really haughty tone) I don’t consider myself superior to her

Me (or my sister- I don’t remember at this point) But you are superior in that she is serving you. Her tip, therefore her livelihood depends on what you think of her service. Just like why a superior at work shouldn’t tell an underling that they look nice. It’s a power imbalance. (who knew we’d end up talking power balances again)

This then evolved into a conversation about workplaces. I having been the only woman in the room who worked  as a female executive in a male dominated field said that I did not like when men at work would tell me that I looked nice.

My mother responded: Of course you liked it when people told you that you looked nice at work…

Let’s just say that my voice is hoarse right now from the amount of yelling I did. I stood there telling my Mother about what it felt like to be one of the only female executives on a floor full of men- open cubicle. How it was not how I wanted to be viewed. I wanted to be respected for my intellience, not my legs…

To which she recounted a story about how she had to once train a man who was going to make more money than she did.

So- I was emotionally spent, and relating a story about the topic at hand. And my Mother had to one up me with the one story she had about her 1 year stint in corporate America, which didn’t have anything to do with the topic.

And…my Husband is not usually one to notice things (seriously- I rearranged something in my living room a few weeks ago and he didn’t notice till my daughter came home) so when my Husband said:

There you were, spilling your guts out about how it felt to be on the trading floor in the 80s ad 90s, and she didn’t even say that she was sorry that you had to deal with all that. She showed no empathy at all. She had to counter you and bring the conversation back to herself.

Mind. Blown.

Because I am so used to a lack of empathy or warmth or understanding from my Mother, that it doesn’t dawn on me that she should be empathetic….

Which brings me to some of my own personality traits: lack of empathy and a certain coldness.

When you have been raised by an emotionally distant, controlling, narcissistic parent, how many of those traits do you retain yourself?

And when you have grown up with little warmth and empathy, you begin to think that you don’t deserve any: you begin to think that you are not worthy of it…

So- to all of you who say that kids are resilient- I would rethink that thought.

To those of you who think that parenting doesn’t matter: I would rethink that thought.

We are the products of our parents actions. Period. What you do and say, how you act begets the person that you become.

We all make parenting mistakes.

ALL OF US

Making mistakes is fine. But we must own the mistakes we make with our children. When your adult child says that the way that the parent handled something, or did, had a negative impact, as a parent you must at least think about what they said.

I have told my Mother countless times that the way that she did things was bad for my mental health.

But she still insists that her course of action was correct. She can not admit that she may have not handled something in the best way possible. I am 55 and she is 79, and she will not listen to what I have to say as a rational adult.

When my daughter came home last weekend, she said that distance has made her realize something about my parenting that was not really good for her. I admit that I was hurt, sad and angry- at first. Then, when I got over my initial feelings I began to think about what she said, how it was impacting her, and I thought of ways to actively change. My daughter wasn’t telling me that I was a bad parent- she was telling me her true feelings about certain things.

Why would you not actively listen to what your child is saying to you?

My Mother is not happy that she and I do not have a particularly close relationship. I understand that- because I am not so happy about that either. But her unwillingness to even think about what I say to her is hard to deal with. I leave an afternoon with my Mother emotionally drained and sad. My sleep numbers, which had been really good, plummeted on Saturday night because I was so upset. Two days later I am still not great…

When someone tells you how they feel because of something you said or did, you have two trains of thoughts: you can cling to your belief that you did nothing wrong, or you can think about what the other person said, put yourself in their shoes.

It all depends on what is more important: being right, or having a relationship with that person.

 

78 thoughts on “The Comment

  1. My heart is hugging yours so tightly!
    Lack of empathy may be the cruelest thing humans do to one another.
    I can relate to your relationship with your mother more than I care to admit.
    We perpetuate certain aspects of the crap way we were parented without intent, or even knowledge. I know that conversation with your daughter was painful for you, but it also sounds like you’re willing to accept her point of view and create a shift in yourself. This could be wonderful for each of you!
    I’m sending you healing peace and love ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m sorry that this may not have been the weekend you planned, although you sound fully aware that mom will be one who likely brings a negative vibe.
    In brighter news, I commend your daughter for speaking with you and you as well LA for seeing what your own mother cannot. That IS a sign of a great parent. You listened and gave your daughter respect.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I felt this in my soul!!!!!!! For one I hate when people tell me that I look like someone because it might not be a compliment to the receiver. Also, MY MOM sounds like yours in so many ways.
    Hugging you! It sounds like you did a fantastic job with your daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the challenging at risk teenagers told me last week that I wouldn’t understand what he said because I was “old.” I asked my husband, “Am I old?” and he said, “It depends on who is saying it….if it is an 80 year old, you are not old.” And what made me feel good….some people don’t live to be old…..when I was a little younger, many used to say I resembled a blonde model in a magazine. She wasn’t famous but I did like the compliment. Monday, hmm….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry but you are going to think I have no empathy, when actually I relate to this in a huge way. As I read this I felt like I was looking at myself, and I could see how I sometimes want to vomit out the hurt and disappointment I feel to rid myself of the toxic aspect that lingers inside. As I thought about it I thought about how grudges hurt only ourselves and your last line thundered as what was really important. If you mother was to breathe her last breath today, and your heart was the only one left beating in the room, then the most important thing to you would be that you and her had moved forward and left the past behind.
    Some hurts can’t be fixed, but we can unpack them and leave them behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It sounds like you have an open and honest and mutually respectful relationship with your daughter. I think that says a lot about the way you have parented. It sounds like the way your mum is with you would be hard to handle. I have no advice but I can sympathise somewhat as I also have a couple of relatives who can’t ever accept that they might be wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Parents leave so many unseen marks on their kids. Marks that the kids themselves don’t always see until they are much, much older. It is so much worse when you live in a toxic family. I feel for you. I’ve been there and I know how incredibly hard it is to deal with it all. Before I cut all ties, I had gotten to the point where I knew certain topics simply could not be spoken about with my mother because every time I tried, it ripped something apart inside to just have to try and deal with her mindset. When nearly every conversation is full of emotional landmines, you no longer want to speak. I’d like to think that I’ve managed to break that pattern of toxicity with my kids, but I’m sure that I’ve still, unconsciously, managed to leave my own marks.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow. Wondering if your sister feels the same way about your mom’s parenting on her life? There are 10 years between my older sister and I and 5 years between the youngest and I. Both of them have relationship problems with our mom and have had for years. I recently started realizing that I did a disservice to our children because I was parroting some of the things my mom used to do/say. I had conversations with each of the kids letting them know that I can see how I made some mistakes, apologize for them and try hard not to continue to make them. Of course, you don’t get a do-over with parenting but hopefully they will appreciate the fact that I know now I was wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My sister gets along worse with my mother than I do. It’s hard facing yourself I. The mirror. But you can’t move forward with anything if you don’t acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It is our job as humans to learn from situations, whether they are bad or good. No one is perfect as perfectly pointed out by your daughter. I know that my kids would have one thing or another that they did not agree with and they should. It is all part of becoming an adult, but I will say that everything that they do in their lives good or bad are not always traceable to me or their father. My mother was just plain tired by the time I entered middle school so she could not wait to move out when I graduated from high school. We had a pretty good relationship, but I knew she expected me to get on with my life she was done. I was not a helicopter parent, but I insisted on family rules and wanted the best for my kids. They were not always great and they both screwed up from time to time, but I am not going to own those mistakes, they are theirs alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mistakes are my own and I own them. But my mother making me feel like crap is not my mistake…and her inability to listen to me when I tell her something she does bothers me is her mistake (not really mistake but I can’t think of better ) the feedback that I get from my mom, my whole life and still to this day is that I’m not good enough, her way is the only way, and I don’t do anything right. There’s a difference in blaming a parent for your mistakes, and trying to tell your parent how they make you feel

      Like

  10. Isn’t it nice you have this blog to ponder these things, and invite an open discussion with your online peeps who bring to the table different views and perspectives in a conducive, respectable manner?

    It’s why I come here… 🙂

    I have more but I can’t stay…later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm. My grandmother was an awesome grandfather. As a mother she thought that if something bad happened to her kids, it was the fault of someone else. My mother thought that was a horrible parenting philosophy so she went completely 180 away instead of veering off like 130….but yes…my mom has unresolved issues with her parents

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Tell me you are having a laugh….. please!

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Susan Sarandon, even at the age of 73 she remains as sexy as ever, still pulls off a cleavage plunging dress, was stunningly sexy in Rocky Horror, and rubbing citrus orange juice into her boobs is still an image I’ll never forget…… AND she’s played umpteen strippers (big boobs has Susan) and hookers in her movie career.

    Nope I won’t have anything said about Susan. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post! It’s hard to see our parent’s dysfunction mirrored in ourselves. But like you said, it’s all in how you respond. I also know how hard it is to admit mistakes if perfection is the expectation growing up. I think that makes an apology mean more. I struggle with all these things and a lack of empathy to boot. But we can get past it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am so sorry that you experienced this – both as a child and now as an adult. Your mother reminds me a lot of my mother-in-law. Our relationship was so rocky and tumultuous. She was an extremely difficult person to deal with because she would not listen and saw everything in black and white. She died many years ago but was so vindictive during the years I knew her. And never, ever apologized. I was very fortunate to have a mother who did listen and did apologize when I pointed out anything that I found hurtful or was bothered by. It made my relationship with my mother-in-law that much more difficult because I was not used to behaviors that were less than kind or compassionate. It’s not that my own mother was so perfect bu oh boy.

    Unfortunately we cannot change them but I really liked what you had to say about the resiliency of children. We need to rethink much of what we accept as truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Unfortunately no matter how old you and your mom are, you’re still the daughter and she’s still the parent. She isn’t going to change, though it certainly sounds like she’s a handful and a headache. My mother always takes the other person’s side of any argument, and never agrees with me. It’s frustrating and predictable, but I accept it as part of who she is. As a footnote, she is one of the most empathetic people I’ve ever met, so I’ll keep her.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Excellent advice. My mother is a sociopath, completely lacking in empathy and self-centred, with no warmth or love to give. As a parent I went so far the other way that I was not as good a parent as I hoped to be. My daughter has mental health issues and I took a step back from my micro managing and we talk, she talks – I listen, and I try to act on what she says. It is hard to admit to adversely affecting your child but once you do it joe a up dialogue

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Mothers, oh my. Well you know mine made me plenty miserable and we never did have a very close relationship as adults. She was too busy blaming her parents and everyone else for screwing up her life. I tried to explain to her when she was my age and her parents in their late 70s, that they weren’t go to change and it was time to forgive and move on.

    I’ve had to do the same with her – forgive and move on. I’ll probably never be particularly warm or empathetic, due to my cold, abusive mother. So, I can relate to your issues here. Hope you can laugh it off and get some sleep tonight, now that you’ve blogged about it.

    Once, someone said I looked like Stevie Nicks (now THAT’S a huge stretch) and I was so pleased!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Well, I must admit I had to Google Susan Sarandon so I could get an idea of what you looked like 🙂 I do not envy you your dealings with your mother. You are to be admired for trying to get her to see things in a different light. I’d have given up long ago. I found your comment “When you have been raised by an emotionally distant, controlling, narcissistic parent, how many of those traits do you retain yourself?” to be eye opening. That would describe my parents, perhaps sans the narcissistic part, and I would describe myself as often being emotionally distant and controlling … though I think less so now than when I was younger … as now I am “older and wiser” … kind of 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes time and distance are great eye openers. And we sometimes need to step back a little and at least consider that our loved ones may have a point. It’s hard realizing that we’re not perfect…but for the good of relationships we need to at least try

      Like

  18. I had to have this discussion with Mr B recently (and my boss at work). About how I’ve always had to fight for my position as a women in male dominated industries. I’m sorry you had to deal with what you did at work and from your mom. Thank you for being one of the people who made it possible for me to at least have the opportunity to fight for a position in a male dominated industry

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I know exactly what you’re talking about. My mother is the same way. However, I responded to my mother differently as a child and as an adult. As a child, I was super sensitive, feeling the pain more intensely than it really was. Many tears were shed as a child. As an adult, I formed a soft shield around myself, knowing when to leave a conversation that was going to hurt me. It drove my mother crazy sometimes. Now as a senior adult, I find myself standing up for those who are being verbally tramped on. This hasn’t always been a good way to be. Many of my in-laws don’t particularly like me because of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My inlaws are a whole other ball of wax….I try to remain very neutral when I’m with my mother. My sister is sort of the catalyst, but that being said, my mom was totally crazed the other day

      Like

  20. I know your main point wasn’t about telling someone they resemble a celebrity because YOU think the celebrity is attractive and therefore it’s a compliment. However, this is something I’ve talked to a lot of people about and with the doppelgänger challenge happening on Facebook recently, it came up again. My daughter who has been told she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow (GP should be so lucky!) by numerous people hates the comparison. Therefore, it’s not a compliment.
    I’ve been told over the years that I look like Goldie Hawn, Marilyn Monroe, Mary Louise Parker (? 🤷🏼‍♀️), Renee Zellweger, the mom from That 70s Show (mostly the laugh, not the physical resemblance) and others. I know it’s meant as a compliment, but sometimes it’s jarring. And it’s never been said by anyone who has power over my livelihood. I agree with you on this 💯

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. This has nothing to do with being overly sensitive as my mom stated. But yes, it’s annoying to be compared to someone who you may or may not find attractive, and it might not be a compliment. To me, there’s no reason to do it at all

      Liked by 1 person

  21. People like to say things for different reasons, sometimes to get a reaction, something with sincerely and sometimes out of ignorance. The thing is, I usually know why they’re saying it before they say anything based on past history. It’s an old cliche but I always take what someone says from the source and it only bothers me if that source steps away from what I expected from them. I think you weren’t upset because of the present but because the past reared its ugly head and came on the heels of what your daughter said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In most instances I’d say you had a point, but my mother went bat crazy when I mentioned calmly that someone might not view looking like a celebrity as a compliment. She started screaming that the whole world is too sensitive and political correctness has gotten out of hand. If I lost it it was directly because of my mom’s diatribe

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I wonder if there was a deeper reason you mom reacted the way she did. Seemingly benign comments sometimes take on new meaning within the family dynamic. My heart goes out to you with the relationship you have with her. Mother-daughter relationships seem to always be a bit strained. At least in my experience. I do agree comments int he workplace that could be interpreted as a quid pro quo should be off limits…regardless of intent. Working in an ad agency, there was no shortage of “inappropriate comments”! We all knew each other well and it wasn’t an issue, but it would probably have been awkward for someone hearing it for the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Being right or having a relationship with that person – big debate topic LA and one that solely depends upon your comfort/level of understanding and additionally who the other person is. I have a tough time with my brother but I keep the relationship because we’re blood, but I keep it at a safe-ish distance for my own sanity.

    To see your family as they are in observer mode is a good thing because you can see with fresh eyes the lack of empathy and the stubborn trait of making it about your Mom when she wants to (at least that’s what I got from the conversation).

    Having a relationship doesn’t mean rolling over and allowing boundaries to be crossed or toxicity to reign which I think you understand and are doing. Yay for you!

    As for your daughter, well I’ve had that conversation with my kids too and it wasn’t fun but I could see what they were saying to me even though it was hard and I wanted to desperately defend my actions/reactions to the precise situations they were remembering. Instead I asked what they thought I should have done as a parent or what they would have done if they’d been in my shoes at that time. I even went as far as to ask how they would have wanted me to respond under those circumstances.
    It was an interesting conversation. A bit eye-opening for all of us which was good.

    Honestly, I prefer being right, but that ship has sailed into my past. Instead, I’d prefer a relationship. Always a relationship with those whom I love/like/respect/want in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Sometimes I see the results of my parenting coming out in my sons’ comments, as a continuation of what bad things my parents did. I put my foot down and tell them they can’t do that, though I’m certain they heard it from me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Oooohhhh buttons. Great Big Buttons. I’ve observed there seems to be a striking split between those who are unhappy with how they’ve been brought up : one lot do all they can to act differently (OK they may not succeed always, but they do think it’s important & they do work at it); the other lot repeat the exact same treatment which made them unhappy. Both love their children, but one lot has total blind spot over taking personal responsibility.

    With you on the stress levels post mother interactions. I wish it wasn’t the way, for I’ve worked unbelievably hard over the years to understand her & the impact of her upbringing, but when only one of us is prepared to do the work, ultimately that person ends up feeling drained, hurt, frustrated etc etc …

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Wow, this was incredible to read. Our mothers sound exactly alike and our reactions to them seem to be frighteningly similar. I wish you all the best in dealing with your mother. I know how difficult it is. After ignoring me for most of my life my mother now bombards me with phone calls. Her husband died 2 years ago and she’s pushed everyone away from her. But, she has dementia so I feel like I can’t turn my back on her totally. However, I’ve learned to limit my exposure to her so I don’t lose days of my life dealing with her toxic garbage. Hugs from Niagara Falls Canada. Please check out my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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