The #1 Little Piece Of Information NOT To Share With Your Child

It was a feminist literature class. On the contemporary reading list was The Joy Luck Club. A book chock full of mother/daughter relationships.

The assignment?

An interview with your mother.

The questions we were required to ask were predictable. How did you meet my father? Why did you choose marriage at that time in your life? What was your life like before kids? How far did you take your education? What did you learn from your mother about parenting?

What was your reaction when you heard you were pregnant with me?

“Defeat.”

Huh? Did I hear her right? Did she really say defeat?

Uh. Yes.

She did.

I knew I didn’t really want to hear any more. A glutton for punishment, I asked her to explain.

“Well. When I married your father I knew I wanted to go to college. He wanted to start a family right away. So I made a deal with him. We would have sex one night in the month of March. He could pick the night. If I got pregnant, fine. We’d start having kids. If not, I could start school.”

Oh.

“I was looking through college catalogs and I felt a little sick to my stomach. Then I realized I was a few days late for my period. I knew your father had won. So I threw the catalogs in the trash and here you are.”

A consolation prize?

“You know. I never wanted to be a mother. But that’s what was expected of me. So I did it.”

Four times. What were you thinking?

“You kids kept me from getting my degree for 10 years. But, I eventually got it. So I guess it all worked out, right?”

Uh. No.

It didn’t.

Your response explains a lot. It explains the heavy sighs. The crabby days. How we always seemed in your way. Why we all scurried every time you came home. Your nightly vodka tonics. How some days you could barely look at us.

But it didn’t work out.

Not for me, anyway.

And when you completely forgot my birthday this year? No card. No phone call.

At least now.

I know why.

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20 Comments

Filed under Moms, Motherhood

20 responses to “The #1 Little Piece Of Information NOT To Share With Your Child

  1. :( Wow, that was a tough conversation. I’m sorry that your mother felt that way, but what makes me even sadder is that she didn’t just keep that information to herself. Why the hell did she feel she had to say that to you?

    I was given away by birth mother, and I always feel a sense of rejection, but at least I know that my adoptive parents loved and wanted me. Even if my childhood was far from perfect, I know I was wanted and loved by them.

  2. Really, really, really feeling for you. :(

  3. Wow. That sounds familiar! My mom was pretty much the same way when we were kids, except she did go to school! When my brother was five months old & I was almost two, she left us with my dad in CT & went to CA for three years for law school. She came back with a law degree & another baby (still not sure how that happened!) It makes for a crazy childhood…and I think that’s why I dated horrible guys through college; they were all guys I knew I’d NEVER marry! I really pushed for my degree & identity before I had kids because I was so afraid of leaving someone behind because I know that deep down I am just like my mom.

  4. That must have been a difficult interview. I recently gave my mom a book that she’s supposed to fill in answers to questions like that. I thought it would be neat to learn more about my mom. I never thought that I might not like her answers.

  5. I am furious! That is inexcusable and so sad and just wrong! ((you))

    She’s a piece of work. She doesn’t deserve you.

  6. It’s unfortunate that parents are just regular people, with all their baggage. Some are so egocentric their children suffer and they can’t see far enough beyond themselves to realize it. With luck, the children will learn from their experiences and become wonderful parents – like you have.

  7. What a loss she had! She didn’t get the best things in her life were already at home.

  8. Whoa. I think your Mom and my Dad could be soulmates. I’m so sorry your mother doesn’t love you like she should. I can’t believe she told you these things….geez!

  9. Oh, so your mother’s a malignant narcissist? Why did so many malignant narcissists procreate in the sixties and seventies? (not mine, but many of my friends’ mothers). As with many of my friends, I’m impressed that you’re such a good mother without having had any positive role model to base your parenting on.

  10. I think the fact that you are such a wonderful and loving mother despite your mother’s attitude is a true testament to how amazing you are! I know that this must have been a tough conversation to bear, and like many have said, your mother probably should have kept it to herself. At the same time, I think it is better on some level to just know, ya know? My mother told me when I was pretty young that she had an abortion before having me and seriously considered aborting me since my biological father told her he would dump her if she didn’t. I am eternally grateful that she chose to keep me, but I often wonder about that baby she aborted. How life would be different if I had been born second, or not at all. It is tough to realize that our parents may or may not have been prepared or wanted us. My biological father abandoned my mother and has never been a part of my life and I often think about how he loves his current wife and small children but could never seem to love me and my mother. Life is certainly hard that way. **hugs**

  11. It’s very sad, but she told you something very important in there: “I never wanted to be a mother. But that’s what was expected of me. So I did it.”

    That’s the key. She conformed to her peer group and the expectations she lived with her entire life. Instead of being hurt or angry, think of how far we have come when she could not. In her own way, she helped pave the way for the rest of us to go to school and pursue our dreams.

    I’m not making excuses for how she treated you and your siblings; there is no excuse, but you are probably the person you are because she accepted “defeat” and just maybe, in that odd way, she made sure you did not.

    I don’t know how old she is, or in what health. But maybe by looking at this from another angle might help her to heal. And maybe it will help you, too.

    It’s just a thought.

  12. I don’t think this means she doesn’t love you…just that she doesn’t love you as much as she loves herself. And for sure she learned NO parenting skills from her folks.

  13. I’m so sorry, Jane…this is truly sad! I’m happy that you’ve been able to rise above your childhood to become the strong, smart, talented person that you are, and a good mom to your own kids!

    Hugs,
    Wendy

  14. Mothers and daughters. Sometimes, never easy – even in adulthood. And we learn plenty from it, don’t we. And hopefully do better.

  15. Woa there! I feel like some of these comments may have been a bit too hasty. This blog entry doesn’t describe her mom as being narcassistic or even a bad mom. It wasn’t wrong of her to have those feelings & she told the author when she was an adult; when she could handle it & maybe even find a bit of humor in it. I know that my mother never wanted to have children. She just didn’t. But she had three of them! And despite her education & later her career, I think we all turned out ok. I also never wanted to be a mom. I also never wanted to be married. But I am. Though I have the rare moment where I miss traveling & being spontaneous, I passionately love my family. And I’m sure that at some point in their lives my original self, dreams & wants will slip out & I’m sure they will understand & be ok.

  16. So sorry Jane that you had to endure this conversation. Really wish the conversation when in a different direction. Hugs.

  17. “Truth hurts” would be an understatement in this case. This also speaks so highly of how well you’ve overcome this, and gone on to be a fabulous mom to your children. Everything that happens has a purpose. But, most of the time we don’t understand just what that is when it’s happening. Take heart that your children will never have to feel like this.

  18. I’m sorry your feelings were deeply hurt, Jane. My reaction is one part A Wifely Person’s and one part Mazy’s…society stacked the odds against your mom and she had a dream that her life would be different. As a grown woman who has raised a grown woman, there’s something you could recognize in the decades-old story that what a woman is supposed to do sometimes beats the hell out of what she wants to do.

    I feel intense guilt at your post and the comments, too, because I chose to interrupt my career to have my children, and love them desperately, AND I sometimes have grouchy days, have a lot of heavy sighs, have far too many limits to my patience. My kids are my dearest loves, and they’re
    in my way. It’s just a fact. They’re little. They need me every second. And it’s too much. There’s nothing of me in my day, and I resent that. It is my reality and I’m not changing it but I resent it.

    So while your mom should have highlighted the joy and the love, it’s still possible to love and feel joy AND be frustrated and resenting. I guess I’m saying that the comments here make it sound as though parenting is either joyFUL or resentFUL and that your mother is on the wrong side of that dichotomy. Maybe there’s a spectrum from joyous (with a little deep sigh now and then) to rage-filled (with sparkles of adoration now and then) and that maybe your mom is way off what we think you deserve and is further from center than any of us want to be, but she’s not at the dark end of apathy. She couldn’t be. You don’t get loving and patient Jane without at least some love and patience in your home.

    I hope.

    • Thank you for this comment. I completely agree…this is how I often feel…a little of this then overwhelmed with a little of that…and no matter what my mood is, it’s always glorious!

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