Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My mother versus the mother I have become...

One of my beautiful blogging buddies, Shell at Things I Can't Say, hosts a weekly meme called Pour Your Heart Out. You can read the specifics HERE.

So, people, are you ready to dive in deep? Because I'm about to go deeper than I've ever gone before on my blog. So grab your scuba gear if you wanna come along.

Based on a few vague references I've made here and there in the past on my blog, it's safe to say that my childhood wasn't exactly all sunshine and roses.

My parents probably should never have gotten married...and they most definitely should have never had children. In fact, my mom has said the latter on many occasions. Her own childhood wasn't the happiest so she ultimately lacked a healthy idea of what a good mother looked like.

What is a mother?

Someone who cares when others care less
Someone who encourages when others ridicule.
Someone who defends when others condemn.
Someone with patience when others are impatient.
Someone who appreciates when others fail to notice.
Someone who gives security in a world of insecurity.
Someone who is accepting when others reject.
A Mother is a friend for all time, to cherish and protect,
as her achievements will linger for generations.

~~ Author Unknown ~~


The above poem is who I picture in my mind as the "ultimate" mother. It probably describes a good portion of the mothers in the world today.

It does not, however, describe my mother.

Even now, as an adult and as a mother myself, I still make excuses for my mother. She didn't know how to love because she never felt loved. She didn't know how to show affection or appreciation because it was never shown to her. She could never protect me from the evil in this world because no one had ever protected her.

The excuses feel more comfortable to me than the truth. And the truth is that, at any time, she could've been the one to break the cycle of dysfunction.

I've spent most of my childhood and early adulthood trying to make sense of it all. But no amount of analyzing the facts will ever change the past. The damage can never be undone.

Unfortunately, no amount of therapy could've repaired the damage either.

I've sat through counseling sessions listening to her admit that when I was a baby she left me in my crib for hours at a time while I cried because she couldn't "handle motherhood"...it wasn't anything like she imagined it would be. She had pictured herself being home all day long with an adorable, cuddly baby who would spend hours gazing into her eyes.

The reality was that each day when my father would leave for work in the one car they owned, she would feel angry, resentful, trapped and bitter.

I wasn't a particularly cute baby...I was small and scrawny, with a shrill cry that cut her nerves like a sharp knife. Due to immature nerve endings, I didn't like to be held and I would push her away each time she tried to hold me.

Ultimately, she felt rejected by me. In her mind, she wasn't good enough for her mother...and now she wasn't good enough for her own child.

I grew up hearing things from her such as, "You're not good enough", "Your father loves your sister more than you", and "You'll never make anyone happy".

A few years ago, during one particular counseling session, I finally had the nerve to tell her about one of her male employees who sexually abused my sister and I. I expected her to be shocked, sympathetic, sad, disappointed...isn't that how a mother SHOULD react to hearing such an upsetting confession from her child?

She just sat there, stone-faced, and responded, "I had a feeling something had happened. But I always thought it had happened to your sister...not to YOU".

In disbelief, I asked, "Wait...you KNEW?! Yet, you continued to allow him to be around us? And you thought it only happened to Erica but not to ME? Was I that horrible that not even a child molester would want anything to do with me?!"

What made it worse was now knowing that she had an idea something sinister had occurred, yet years later when we went to the grocery store and this same person was working there as a bag boy, she engaged in a friendly conversation with him and expected me to give him a hug....while the whole time, my stomach turned violently and my heart felt like it would give out at any time.

It was at that very moment that I realized I had to live my life for myself....I was spinning wheels that were going nowhere, spending every waking moment trying to prove to my mother that I was worthy of being loved. I had to let it go...

Flash forward to where I am now...sometimes I feel like I've come such a long way. And then at other times, I realize I'm still that little girl who's desperate for her mother's approval.

My sister has long since written our mother off. And she did so without any hesitation...she's never looked back. She doesn't regret her decision whatsoever.

Yet, I cannot do it. Oh, don't get me wrong. I wish to God I could. I want so much to NOT care. I tell myself, "What have you got to lose?"

I practice the conversation in my head over and over until the words are branded into my brain. But when she finally does call, out of the blue...asking for something...I turn to putty. I stumble and I can't find the words anymore.

My mother is having a BBQ on Mother's Day this year again at her house. This has become an annual event as of the last 10 years.

Inside, I'm screaming, "NO, I'm not coming this year. It makes me sick to pretend in front of family and friends that you're Mother of the Year. I'm tired of my kids being confused about why you're so nice to them this one day of the year, only when others are around to witness it....yet, the rest of the year, you're too busy to see them."

As I beat around the bush, trying to come up with excuse after excuse, she's arguing with me..."Well, just tell Tim you want to come over", "Don't worry about Tim's mom...just celebrate with her on another day" and "But you always come over here on Mother's Day".

It's conversations like that which reduce me to the equivalent of a terrified 9-year old child, who doesn't understand what she did so badly in life which justifies such poor treatment. How many times can someone be knocked down before she decides she's had enough?

Well, I'm a mother now and, unlike her, I have vowed to break that cycle of dysfunction. I will strive to be at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Sure, I get angry, short-tempered and yell at my kids more often than I should...I'm certainly not perfect. I am a work in progress, just like every other parent out there in the world.

So when people give me the label of "Supermom" because I insist on spending 3 days baking homemade birthday cakes for each of my kids or taking an entire day to help my kids make Valentine's day crafts for their classmates, I wear that label proudly. I have no problem admitting that I have set the bar high for myself.

I want my children to feel that they are worth my effort and my time...it's essential that they feel important, valued and, most important of all, loved.

With that said, I still hope for that day when my mother will come to me, after seeing the mother I have become, and tell me she's sorry and that she's proud of me.

In reality, I know that day may never come. And that's okay. What matters to me the most now is being the mother to my children that I had always wished for...the mother in the poem above, especially the following part...

A Mother is a friend for all time, to cherish and protect,

as her achievements will linger for generations.


Hopefully, my biggest achievement will have been advancing against the odds...coming through and out of the darkness to shine as brightly as I know I can, for the sake of my children and future generations, as well.

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106 comments:

LaVonne said...

Helene, I am beginning to understand where all your humor in life's stressful situations comes from. It is making sense now. I love readin your post. This one is my favorite. It is so real (they all are of course). Thank you for sharing with all of us. And I don't think you should go to your mom's on nmother's day. Spend it with your MIL or your own kids. (I am not saying write her off, just don't bend over backwards.) Don't let her continue to make you feel bad.

Blessings, my blogging friend!

Stacey said...

I really hope that I'm not the same kind of mother as my own. I felt ignored and never loved by my mother. I never really felt loved or cared for until I didn't share a roof with her...at age 25.

I think the reason so many people continue cycles of abuse is because they don't try. They believe they are just destined to repeat the same mistakes as their parents. I'm so glad you're trying. And I'm sure, somewhere deep down, so is your mom. ;o)

::hugs::

Clueless_Mama said...

Helene, I am so sad for you as I read this post. I hate that your mom is still able to manipulate you into doing things you don't want. You are such an amazing person! You should be so proud of yourself for becoming the Supermom you are to your own kids. Do what you want to do on Mother's Day. If it is not truly going to your moms house, do something else. Do what you want for you and your family. Good for you for writing this post. I love that you can share such intimate things about your life. Way to go for overcoming the things you have.

Steph said...

I'm so sorry for the things you have been through. No child deserves that treatment, whether you are a little kid or an adult. I applaud your efforts to break the cycle and your determination that it will end with you. You are definitely Supermom!

PaisleyJade said...

Wow - that is so sad. The fact that you've been through all of that and are choosing to not let yourself get bitter etc shows that you are truly amazing... human but amazing!

Casey said...

Wow I cried reading your post. I am so sorry you had to go through a childhood and even adulthood feeling like that. I think that what you are doing for your children is amazing and you are an awesome mom! You are breaking the cycle, you are doing a great job!

Jaynie Martin said...

My husbands mum is much the same as yours as is my friends mum and ive seen the damage they have caused, mine is different in the fact i was lost amoung 9 other children there was never the time for love hugs i got more from my elder sister but really i was isolated as ive got older mum has become more picky as to who out of we 10 gets her favourtism im not one of them apparently i can look after myself. Its not much better than what you, my husband, and my friend suffered a mother absent in most ways other than when she wants something from me :/ i hope helene you get strong enough to say 'this is what i want to do today' ... i think you should say to your mum, 'im a mother too and im spending it with my children' tell her shes welcome to join if she wants but your celebrating being a mother yourself ... i think you should cos you sound a really good mum, your breaking the cycle xx

DysFUNctional Mom said...

This breaks my heart for you. You seem like such a wonderful mom. I am always so inspired by mothers like you who choose to break the cycle.
I hope you are able to enjoy Mother's Day, however you choose to spend it!
xoxo

Leigh said...

I've only just started reading your blog properly but from what I see, you've broken the cycle! Yay!

Look at how you defended Bella!

I feel sad for your mother.

I love what Jaynie Martin said - say "this is what we're doing" and that's that. Yes, there will be big guilting but so what? it will get easier in time.

I don't have the best relationship with my mother (none of us do) but I'm a little free-er after hearing something Dr Phil said - sometimes you have to tell yourself what you wish your parents would say to you "like you're an awesome person, I'm sorry, etc"

Great post - I enjoyed reading very much.

D said...

It is totally amazing that you've become the person you are now and you're the mother you are considering you had no real example to turn to. I'm sorry your mom didn't protect you or get that creep away from you and your sister. She should have. You are simply an incredible person and you have completely broken the cycle with your own children. Be proud of the woman you've become and the mother you are because you are wonderful. Really.

HT said...

Thinking something inappropriate was done to your child and not stepping in IMMEDIATELY to remove your children from that situation, is just unthinkable to me. It upsets me just reading about it!!

I applaud you for doing your best at being a wonderful mother and breaking this dysfunctional cycle, but maybe its time to do what you need to do for yourself! What if you did not go to this BBQ? What about starting your own BBQ tradition celebrating YOU, the mother of YOUR household?!

I've had to come to a few realizations of my own and it's painful. The reality is that you are under no obligation to do anything you don't really want to do no matter how you try and justify it in your mind.

Merri Ann said...

I hope you stick to your guns and pass on the Mothers Day event. Plan something with your husband and kids to make it an event and do it each year. The best advice I've ever gotten from my mother in law was "Your husband and kids should be your first consideration when making any decisions" extended family comes second.

You should celebrate your wonderful kids and hubby and the life you have created for them and feel proud that you are doing such a great job ... not a great job despite your childhood ... a great job period.

Rebecca said...

Beautifully written...thanks so much for sharing. I'm sorry that you had to go through all of that, but in a way, it made you the wonderful mother you are to your kids...not an excuse...just a silver lining (if there is one in these situations).

The Professional Family Manager said...

Are your mother and my mother related? Or friends? Or share the same parenting playbook?

You mother sounds like a narcissist (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) like mine. And daughters of narcissistic mothers have a hard time separating from their mothers, even though we know what they are. I wrote a "Poor Your Heart Out" post about it last week.

I haven't spoken to my mother in three years. It took me thirty-six years to finally say, "enough!" I realized I'll never get that recognition for doing anything good, any recognition for being a good person or daughter or parent, never get the love and security of a mother's unconditional love and support, never feel the safety and security of having a parent's love, etc. I had to come to the point of understanding that, no matter what I ever did, I would never be "good enough"...and she would always be right, righteous, and not give a flying fig.

I'm so sorry you've had this in your life. I'm sorry that she chose not to break the cycle. However, YOU have, which shows what an incredible person you are!

Nicole S. said...

I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds here but I wanted to say that it sounds to me (in my very unprofessional opinion) like your mother may have narcissistic personality disorder. I say this because my father has it. Only recently have I been able to "label" it as such. However, reading about this disorder has made it easier for me to deal with him. Since you've been in counseling, you may already know this but I figured I'd throw it out there. Narcissists are incredibly hard to deal with and don't have the capacity to change - I empathize with you. Hang in there.

And, of course, you are doing a fantastic job of mothering those 4 kids of yours. They will never have to write something like this about you.

singedwingangel said...

I am angry for you. Mymohter nad I have had the same love/ hate relationship. It has only been recently, when she has fallen ill and I have been the one to take on her care, that tons of things come out. Like her own molestation, that like yours was ' not talked about and pushed under the rug', leaving me to become thenext in a chain of moledsted children in our family. So much I could say to you right now. Just know that YOU are worthy of that kind of love. You were worthy of protection.

SMS said...

You are a fabulous mother and that has indeed broken the cycle. I have many unhealthy issues with my own mother but none as intense as yours. I too have been working to break the cycle since I learned that there was one! When my counselor revealed what was really going on in my life.. I started the work that day. Now that we have the girls, I feel it more intently. You are doing an incredible job. You are not alone, apparently there are lots of us out here in readerville :) Love and hugs - sending prayers your way.

Jenny said...

I would be totally ticked as you seemed to be. But like you I would continue to be civil. it is just a shame though that she does not want to be close to her grandchildren...that is just awful. You sound like you are a wonderful mother!

Rebecca said...

Left you an award on my blog...I absolutely love reading what you have to say...always!

Angie said...

It is wonderful that you are able to see the dysfunction and not give into the cycle. What a wonderful mom you are.

And remember... Mothers day is for doing what Mothers want... and since you are a mom you get to do what you want.

Eva Gallant said...

Oh, Helene, my heart broke reading this post. I am floored that you went through this and yet have managed to become a such a wonderful mother to your children. Good for you. You have much of which to be proud. And spend your mother's day whereever and however YOU choose! Electronic love and hugs are coming your way!

Colton's Mommy said...

It took a lot to share that information in such a public way. I think you have certainly broken the cycle of dysfunction and you should be very proud of that fact. You may never get the admiration and love that you are seeking from your mother, but that will be her loss--not yours!!!

Life Without Pink said...

I think it is so wonderful that you were able to break away from that and become the "mother" that you wanted to be. I know sometimes for people its hard to break the cycle but you need to for your own family. You sound like such an amazing mother and you should be so proud of yourself. I am sorry that you have to go through this!

Missy (Two Little Monkeys) said...

Helene,
First, I want to say Thank you to you for the insight into your life. Second, I want to tell you that you are a wonderful mom with a huge heart!
I am often considered cold-hearted (jokingly but sometimes serious) by my sister because I have no problem cutting all ties if a person treats me poorly. Unfortunately, I have been put in a scenario once or twice where you simply can not cut someone off. And it sucks! I have chosen to keep them at bay - dealing with them only when I absolutely have to. Anywho, I am wishing you the absolute best in your situation. You deserve to be happy!!!

The Boob Nazi said...

Wow. Great post.

Dianna@KennedyAdventures said...

Helene.... I love you, in a bloggy sister way. I cringe at this story for your pain, but I know that this must be cathartic for you, too.
I'd love to be able to spill it like you did, but my mother reads my blog. I'll just sit in therapy with Abby and focus on breaking the 'cycle of crazy'!!
Prayers for you-- it will make us better mothers, but I also understand wanting our children to have 'normal' grandparents.

Shell said...

Wow, you really did pour your heart out. I wish I couldn't relate, but I do. My mom has actually disowned me three or is it four? different times. Just because I wasn't living my life the exact way that she wanted me to. I was never doing anything horrible, just not going with her plan. And then, she would decide that it was okay for me to be her daughter again and want me to act like nothing had happened. And if I would ask her about it, she would pretend like it had never happened. She lost her mom at age 15 and was always telling me that I was lucky just to have a mom.

From all that you write, I can tell that you are defying the example that was set for you.

Thanks for linking up.

The Mother said...

Stories like yours raise every hackle in my lioness-protective-mom brain.

I'm so sorry you have such a terrible relationship with your mom. I have a great one--and I lean on that, often, while I deal with my own kids. Every woman should have that; I can't imagine not having that voice to balance and console.

So sorry.

High On Craft said...

I'm sure I don't need to tell you this Helene, but your mother will NEVER change. She has shown you who she is over and over and over again and putting hope in the possibility that one day she may become the kind of mother that you always wanted her to be is pointless.
I also think that going to therapy WITH you mom is/was a complete waste. You need to get your own counselling so that you can heal from all those years of emotional abuse and hopefully break free from that toxic relationship.
You have done an amazing job breaking the cycle of dysfunction. If only more people could be as conscious of and proactive in doing that as you; the world would have far fewer depressed and emotionally neglected children.

Twins Squared said...

Helene I was so sorry to read all this. It reminds me much of what my step-siblings went through. Wish my older step-sister read your blog (can't even get her to read mine) but we are super close and her attitude seems much like yours. I think that is a great strength that both of you have. She has spent her adult life trying to fix everything broken as a result of poor upbringing but it has been hard. My other step-sister sadly lost her life to a drug overdose nearly 3 years ago. I can tell how strong you are because of how you handle things and I am glad you blog because I am sure it is such a great outlet for you. As for Mothers Day, I'm with all the others, I say don't go. After all, it's YOUR Mothers Day too! But I know that is hard to do when you actually have to tell her. I hope you can one day gain peace from all this. Love you much! You ARE a supermom and inspire many!

MamaHen Em said...

Oh Helene. . . I'm so sad for your childhood and your relationship with your mom. YOU are an amazing mother whose kids know that they are loved and they absolutely will remember that more than anything else. Thank you for sharing your heart today and for opening up a conversation for so many others with hurts.

Jennifer @ The Toy Box Years said...

Hugging you Helene!

This post was so raw and emotion-filled, and I thank you for sharing a little more of yourself.

Ok, first, the whole Mother's Day thing. Don't go. YOU are a mother now too. YOU have a right to celebrate with YOUR family and YOUR children. It's all about YOU momma! Send her a plant with a note saying, thank you, but I'm spending the day with MY children....and let it go. If she wants to complain..well, that's what caller ID is for. (wink!)

This post makes my heart hurt because it does hit so close to home. My mom once visited me and it was the visit from hell. I was criticized for not cleaning or doing laundry because I'd rather play with my kids. She said - "I never did things like that with you & your brother." I know -- I remember well.

But to break the cycle, we all must try. And you, my friend, are trying.....and your kids love you for it!

LucidLilith said...

Thank you for sharing this. I think the strength you have to become a wonderful mother and wife in spite of (not because of) what you have been through, should be a testament of the type of character you have. I only hope and pray that you pass on this strength to you little ones.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Amazing Helene, amazing. You are amazing, as is your story. Others have told you wonderful words in the comments, and know that you have helped many by this post.

Jennifer said...

Breaking the Cycle is the best gift you can ever give your children. Its a choice and I believe any one can make it. I hate when I hear people make the excuse that they didn't know better. I grew up with an abusive achoholic/druggie for a father. I have never once even thought about doing any of the things he did to me to my children. I am sorry that your mom is uncaring and unloving the way she should be. I am sorry for all you have gone through. One day I'll put my story on here. You are brave and beautiful. I know first hand that its not healthy for anyone to go through that. You already define what a wonderful mother should be. Your mom should take a few notes from your book, instead of guilt tripping you. Maybe the BBQ should be in your honor instead of hers! We all love you here.

Sadia said...

Helene, I am so proud of you for writing about this, publicly. I'm so inspired by your strength, and your commitment to not letting your mom's dysfunctions shape you. You're an amazing woman, wonderful mom, and fantastic friend.

You're also braver than I am. Even though my Mum no longer reads my blog, I don't yet have the guts to talk about her in public.

Lots of love, and thanks for being there in my journey in getting over my own mom hangups. (Hey, what do you think would happen if we put our mothers in a room together?)

Tabatha said...

You have overcome and broken the cycle... and like you I hope I can too. My biological mom was never the MOM she should have been and that is ok by me NOw, cuz I had an awesome stepmom thst is my MOM. Your kids see how amazing you are... and you have amazing strength. Thanks for sharing yoru story!!

Jen said...

I really don't know what to say but there are tears running down my cheeks.

You are a mother that I admire and totally look up to.

I know its not the praise and love that you want but I adore you. :)

Marianne said...

I'm having a hard time finding words to say-- so I'll mull over it and express them later :)

Although I can say now that given the mother that you are to your four beautiful children, I would have NEVER guessed that your mother was anything less than equally as amazing. I'm amazed that you had the strength and want to change. You're amazing. But we all already knew that...

Richele said...

I am so amazed you have the strength to try and overcome your childhood! Your children will not feel as you did...that is great success! Praise God.

You are not your mother's problem. She had problems long before you. she had needs and issues long before you. Becoming a mother didn't make her better. Very sad.

Don't see your "devotion" as a daughter a weakness. However, if it causes you harm, then re-examine how you want it to be. I'm not a self help book person...but Fool Proofing Your Life by Jan Silvious, is a great book.

Lana@The Kids Did WHAT?! said...

I am so sorry you had to (and still are) go through this.
It's amazing the "power" mothers have, whether it be good moms or bad. Yet we (for the most part) still yearn for some type of approval/acceptance from them.

I think you are amazingly strong for being able to put this out there to share with us. Thank you.

You may decide to wipe her out of your life, or you may decide to let her stay in your life. Whichever way you go, you'll know deep down that either desicion is YOURS to make. You're in control of that. Not her.

I agree with Tabatha - you have certainly broken the cycle. Many women in your situation wouldn't have the strength, knowledge, or courage to do so. WAY. TO. GO!!!
I ♥ you Helene!!!

Karen & Gerard Zemek said...

Sorry you had such a bad relationship with your mom. I can't imagine how terrible that would be because I was so fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with both my parents. I think you are doing great though and those experiences you've had certainly contribute to who you are today.

You are not only a great super mom, but also a wonderful blogger who entertains so many with your humorous take on things. Your family very fortunate to have YOU!

Brooke said...

*hugs* my heart hurts for you right now. i had a normal childhood with normal parents and i still managed to get effed up when it comes to acceptance and feeling good enough.

you have every right to be proud - you are an amazing woman who should hold your head high.

and i wish i could take over for you just for 15 minutes and tell your mom off for you. i'm b*tchy enough right now to do it too.

Erin said...

Wow, what a moving post. I am so sorry that your mother has been so terrible to your for entire life. I applaud you for breaking the vicious cycle and being an AWESOME mom to your kiddos.

I stumbled upon your blog from Shell's linkup and I am so glad that I did! Now following you...

The High Family said...

Oh the stories we could share together...why do you live so far away? I know we've discussed how similiar our childhoods were and I completely understand exactly how you feel when you are not able to "say NO" or write off your mother.

I think you are the bravest person I know for admitting your past and for breaking that awful cycle of dysfunction. It's not always easy to do...I know from experience. BUT we both know how lucky we are to be given the chance to be mothers AND we love our little ones more than life itself.

Thank you for writing this post. I am sure it was difficult for you to do but also "freeing" as well.

Continue to be the best that you can be and your beautiful children will see and feel cherished, protected and know that mom is their friend for all time.

Love ya Helene! :)

Oka said...

Awesome post...
I found it neat (never thought about it)... I am much like your sister, I tend to move on from the person that needs to be written off(for example my Aunt). I have not had contact with her since 1993, and never will again.

My mom, more like you. Her sister has continuously taken advantage of and hurt her family. yet my mom has this need to keep communication up with her. Doesn't matter that her sister stole from their parents, or her, or her daughter. Doesn't matter that she constantly is calling and begging for money, and that is the only time she contacts her. My mom still has to call and check on her.

Personally, I know that's how my mom is. I know God says you should forgive. To me, forgiving is not forgetting, nor allowing the person to cause the same issues over and over again. Mom called the other day to tell me, her older brother told her to let her sister go. She swears she has done it. I guess only time will tell.

Mama (Heidi) said...

Helene, thank you for sharing this part of you. It broke my heart to read about your past, but there is hope in your future. You have already won part of the battle by choosing to be a better mother to your own children. I pray that you have the strength to say no to the BBQ. Like others have suggested, Mother's Day is about you as the mom first and it's okay to celebrate that first.

Mimi and Tilly said...

Helene, I have loved reading your blog for the past 8 months, and always enjoy hearing about each and every one of the moments that you share. I have always loved your way of looking at the world and have deeply admired your loving, humourous, and fresh way of being a mum. Reading this post today has left me liking you even more. It's very brave to put yourself and your vulnerabilities out into the world and I have so much respect for you in doing that in today's post. Detachment with love works for me when dealing with people who can be manipulative and very hurtful. Helene, you're a very inspirational person. Emma :)

Donna said...

I am crying tears at just how beautiful of a person you are. You had mentioned some of the things with your mom and I knew it was bad, but obviously, not the details.

It is SO obvious that you have broken the cycle. Your children will never know the cruelty a mother can spew onto her children.

I am SO, SO sorry your mother is such a dysfunctional nightmare. You are right, she could CHOOSE to act differently, to have broken the cycle like you have. She just built up other protective behaviour and has CHOSEN to be blind to the truth - that you are a beautiful, loving child and an incredible and giving mother.

I have (2) friends that are each still struggling with a parent like yours. Like you, they are adults now and have surpassed their parents in awareness and growth. It is difficult. it SUCKS! Neither of them have walked away yet from their parents. In a way, I think that their (and your) caring attitude is what is so special about you all.

Helene - I'm so proud of you. Of who you are. Of being able to share it with all of us - so eloquently, as usual.

Give yourself LOTS of hugs today. Take in all the kisses and hugs from your children.

And FEEL like the LOVE being sent from the East Coast. In waves. All day long. LOVE YA, girl!

Shannon said...

My Mother and I were never best friends. We argued a lot, we both said things we didn't really mean. She did the best she could with the Mother she was raised by. But she was never this bad at Mothering as your mother is. I'm so sorry that after all these years she STILL tries to manipulate you into doing things you don't want to do.

Mother's day is still a couple weeks away. You have time to build up your immunity to her response when you tell her that you won't be going this year, you have made other plans and they will not be broken.

I know, easier said than done. But that's what I think you should do. It's not fair to you or your children to be around her pretending everything is perfect when the rest of the time she barely acknowledges anyone. You and those beautiful babies deserve better than that.

Tracy said...

Oh, Helene. There's so much I want to say and I have so little time right now. So I'm going to keep it simple.

YOU HAVE BROKEN the cyle...but you know that. And YOU deserve to have a wonderful mother's day. Just say no. Do not leave it open for discussion. Put down that boundary, and do not allow it to be crossed. I know it's hard...but once you do it the first time, you'll be AMAZED how free and liberated you will feel. And then it will be much easier.

I've had to set boundaries...similar history though my mom was deficient in other ways, and always regretful (I do think she was desperately trying to break the cycle, but somehow always fell short,) though at the end of the day she was just incredibly self absorbed. We've gradually rebuilt our relationship, and while I hope for the same for you, it could just be that your mother is so damaged that it may not be possible. You've built a great life for yourself and your family...enjoy it and eradicate the things that make it less fulfilling for you.

shortmama said...

I am so sorry for all you have been through. As someone who is very close with my mom its just not something I can fathom or relate to. You are a wonderful mother

Kim said...

Wow. This is such an amazing post. Thank you so much for making yourself vulnerable enough to write this. It is truly inspirational... one of those rare things you read that makes you want to be a better person, particularly a better mom.

I love the part where you said you are proud when people call you a supermom... because you are showing your kids they are worth that. It makes me want to spend even more time pouring into the lives of my children and less time worrying about getting stuff done.

Thank you for this.

Christina said...

My Mom has been an alcoholic her whole life. She was not a good Mom, and she is everything I don't want to be for my kids. I finally had to let her go when the girls were 3 months old and she showed up drunk with beer in her purse. I didn't talk to her for almost 2 years...like your sister, I had to let her go. It was painful, and it sucked so bad. I beat myself up, but held strong. I knew I was doing the right thing, but had a hard time convincing myself of that...
She finally got it. She just got out of a 28 day rehab center. I can't believe I can say this, but she's sober. For how long? I don't know...but I do know that pulling myself and my family away from her made her wake up, and realize that this was not okay. Maybe someday you can do that too. Cut ties if you need to, and know its not your fault.
xoxo

Jenny said...

Helene, I am so sorry. You have broken the cycle! Your children adore you and you are so good with them.

Make Mother's day about you this year and do what YOU want to do. Maybe just you, Tim and the kids. It can be a new tradition. You deserve a nice Mother's day!

I'll be thinking of you.

Karen said...

Recently, I asked my brother how he got to be such a great dad when he never had any decent examples of how to do it right.

He told me he just thinks, "What would Dad do?" and then does the opposite.

The Lane Family said...

WOW HELENE, YOU HAD A REALLY TOUGH CHILDHOOD AND THAT IS SAD ABOUT HOW YOUR MOM TREATED YOU!!

I THINK YOU DO A GREAT JOB AND I KNOW WE ALL HAVE DAYS AS SAHM MOMS WHEN WE DO YELL A LITTLE MORE THAN WE WOULD LIKE, BUT AT LEAST WE TRY AND THAT SOUNDS LIKE MORE THAN YOUR MOM EVER DID. YOU DO SEEM LIKE A TERRIFIC MOM!!!

Gloria said...

I just want to say ::hugs:: from California. I really understand where you are coming from and if I can, I'd like to say that yes it will be Mother's Day and yours is the day to celebrate. Have your own bbq with YOUR family. Take care and stop and smell the roses.

AshleyRaDawn said...

Helene first I want to give you a big hug and tell you how proud I am of you!! I can relate to some of the things your mother has done to you. And way to go on breaking the cycle girlfriend. Your kids will grow up and look back and have so many good things to say about you it'll make your heart smile. Im with others dont go to the BBQ spend it with people who appreciate you and make you feel good as you are a mother too and you surely shouldnt have to feel bad on mothers day. From your posts I think you are doing a wonderful job and you should be very proud of yourself. Your mother is lucky to have such a wonderful daughter to bad she herself cant admit to her wrongs and see how beautiful and amazing you truely are. Lots of love from Texas xoxox

Melanie said...

Oh Helene, I'm so sorry you had to go throught that kind of childhood and that you are still dealing with it. My husband has struggled with his relationship with his father. Well, he struggled in the past. He finally got tired of being made to feel like he was to blame for every bad thing in his father's life, and broke all contact him. We did not give him our address when we moved, and stopped answering his calls. We have had no contact with him for 4.5 years, and I'm glad. My husband is better off, and our children will never have to deal with him.

You have definitely broken the cycle. You are doing a good job! Keep it up!

Heather said...

Thank you so much for your openness and honesty. I'm so sorry your mom was not how a mom should be. You are certainly breaking the cycle and giving your beautiful kids the deep-down knowledge that they are loved by you! I pray that, someday, your mom will acknowledge the truth AND tell you what a blessing YOU ARE!

Angela said...

You go girl! I'm proud of you! I'm still waiting to hear those words too. But they will never be said by my mom. I think you need to celebrate Mother's Day! The mother that you are, with Your children! That's what it's all about anyways! Thanks for sharing!

Missie said...

I grew up in a very dysfunctional family too. It takes hard work everyday to not repeat those same things with my kids that I went thru. I praise you for writing this entry. I'd love to write a touching entry like this but my mom reads my blog. She? It's like I'm a teenage girl fighting for independence with my blog and I'm a grown adult! LOL

Nezzy said...

I so understand you not being able to write your mother off. Thank God I was bless with a wonderful mother, she had to fill the gaping hole my father left in me. He never laid a hand on me but he could cut to my core with his words. I spent my life tryin' to do anything that would be good enough just to be cut off at the knees. I was constantly bein' told I was stupid and would never amount to anything each time I brought home an A- or a B+. He is my father and we are to honor our parents. I love my dad, I hate the things he put in my head. I took the I'll show him attitude and pushed myself for perfection. I'm 57 years old and have not yet gotten an 'atta girl from him.

I too use my humor to cope with things. As you see you've hit a nerve here. Take care and love those precious babies. You HAVE broken the cycle!!!

WhisperingWriter said...

Wonderful post.

I do think you're a Supermom for doing crafts. I'd rather take an eye out than do crafts.

Amanda said...

Wow Helene, amazing post.

Stacy said...

Helene,

Such a great post. So sorry you went through that, and you are more than just breaking the cycle, you are an amazing mom, not to mention hilarious.

I know my husband would be able to relate well to your post, there is always a part of us that wants to please our parents.

Elizabeth said...

Helene, I am so sorry that your upbringing was like this and that the one person whose job it was to protect you and love you unconditionally failed to do it. Please know that I admire you immensely (although I am a new reader of your blog) for being the kind of Mum you want to be for your kids. You are making the difference in their lives and every time you break the cycle and be a great Mum ... It’s a win for the scared un protetected little girl of your childhood. I hope that you find a solution to the Mothers Day BBQ situation that brings you peace.
Hugs to you.
Ex

cindi said...

Your children will never be able to say that you weren't there for them. There will be times they are angry with you and they will probably say they "hate" you. But as they grow and become adults, they will know they had a wonderful mother who took time out for them. It maks me angry tht you had to go through what you did. But I'm in agreement with the others that you should do your darnedest to stay away from your mom on Mother's Day. She will throw a fit and pout, but in the long run, your kds on't be confused, you will enjoy your day, and good memories will be made. Just my 2 cents.

Heather B said...

Thank you, Helene, for your honesty. As someone who came out of a terrible childhood and has a mostly absent mother I can relate. I was able to finally break my cycle with her when my sister died last year. My life finally became about me and not about pleasing her.
I hope that the 9 year old inside you can begin to gain strength and catch up with the amazing adult you've become. You're children will still likely need therapy (none of us are perfect!). But because of your strength and endurance they have a much better chance of becoming healthy adults and changing the poor parenting cycle.
Hugs....

got2haveheart said...

Oh, Helene, don't you see...you've already become the mother you so desired. By the mere fact that you want more for your children and are able to put those words down means you've succeeded. To give a child unconditional love is the greatest gift we can also give ourselves. Today is the anniversary of Jack's death and I take comfort in knowing he knew he was loved and that helped him conquer all. Your kids feel the same way. Now, it's time to take care of yourself and start by removing all things toxic from your life. Make a stand this year and let Mother's Day be about your dream as a mother. Thanks so much for sharing and caring.

Michelle said...

You are breaking the cycle. You should tell your mother you'll spend time with her on a different day. This mother's day should be for you and YOUR kids. (YOU deserve to be the center of attention this year. You've earned the right!)
My dad is the goodtime grandpa and dad. He likes to be dad and grandpa on holidays or when he want something. One day he expected my family with three young children to come to an evening BBQ, so he could show us off to his girlfriend's family from out of town. He made me feel guilty for not coming, but he doesn't contribute to our life like a dad or grandpa should. Last year my stepdad who was an amazing grandpa died. I finally came clean and told my dad to stop making me feel guilty and expecting from me. He didn't have a lot of kind words for my stepdad. I honored him by explaining to my dad why my stepdad was important to me and my kids. I let him know what he could do etc. to build a better relationship with us, but of course not much has changed. I feel better knowing that he can't make me feel guilty and expect from me anymore though.
Be honest with your mom. Let her know you love her, but sometimes your needs come first. Have a great Mother's Day!!!!

bluecottonmemory said...

“Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splender, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion”(Is. 52:1-2).

I so understand your story. Breaking cycles of dysfunction! I realized over 13 years ago that I had to be delivered from something I never did - I had to be delivered from the rejection of a father (and a dysfunctional mom who did the best she could). I remember looking at God and saying, "O.K. I get it. You are the best Father ever - but I still cry when I hear "Butterfly Kisses." And God set about filling those gaping holes. He sent me spiritual mothers who filled in for my mother. He sent me a spiritual father (who was married to my spiritual mother) who would say to my husband, "Your wife looks lovely today! Have you told her she looks lovely today" all the while shaking my husband's hand. It took me a long time to trust my friends husband (they were in their late 70s), but I realized that God was giving me father words I'd never had. I have more stories, but I realized that God can heal the dysfunction wounds of your past to be the whole,healthy girl He created you to be!

I think you are well on your way! I had to establish healthy boundaries with my mother. It was tough, but it paid off. I Cloud and Townesends book, "Boundaries." It was very liberating!

http://bluecottonmemory.wordpress.com/blue-cotton-books/books-shelf-for-moms-with-sons/

http://bluecottonmemory.wordpress.com/standing-at-the-crossroads-introduction/

Be blessed in your mothers day decision. Sometimes the hardest decisions are saying, "No" but they are the best decisions!

Kim said...

THAT was a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing it.

Alicia said...

Oh, Helene..I just want to give you a big ole hug. I know underneath all the humor and funny sarcasm is a heart of gold!! And you're right, it doesn't matter if your mom ever validates you as a good mother. God knows you are, and His opinion is the only one that counts. He is also the one who can restore your heart and take out any bitterness or resentment you have toward your mother.

HUGS!!

Tiffany said...

You are strong. That poem you started with does describe you, and yes we're not all perfect but you are a fabulous Mama with a beautiful heart.

I think that you and my Mom had similar childhoods - she still won't talk about it much, but from what I can pick up on I sense it is similar. She chose to break the cycle in her family, and I am so grateful she did - I can take her strength and even some of her mistakes/challenges and continue on in making our family stronger.

Stay you. It's all you can do.

(I do hope that you choose to make Mother's Day about YOU though. Not your Mom, not Tim's Mom. Just you.)

Mrsbear said...

I think you're amazing for opening up about this. I can relate very much with a lot of what you wrote. I think everything I strive to be as a mom, I am because I've used her as a model and done the opposite. You're a wonderful mom who came from a bad place and broke the cycle. I hope you can find the strength to break her hold on you. Shoot, I hope the same for myself. Hugs.

Tina... said...

I just want to stab your mom in the juggler with an ink pen when she talks....I'm like your sister though, I can cut anyone out of my life at any time without looking back.
No one needs bad people in their lives, but I get that you can't because she's your birth mom. I call her that cause she's not a mother, she simply gave birth to you. And I'm glad she did cause you're a great mom to your babies...

NDSUE said...

What a moving story! Are you my long lost sister? I've never had the courage to share the horrors of my childhood. Now you've done that for me.

Like you, I vowed to give my children more love and stability. I made some mistakes, but they were my mistakes - not Mom's.

No matter how hard I tried, or whatever I did for her, it was never enough. But a simple 'hello' from my brother practically sent her into a swoon. When Mom went into a nursing home, it was 10 miles away from my brother, 60 miles for me. When she died, one of the staff members pretty much told me the number of time my brother went to visit with Mom: three times in four years. Inspite of his rejection, she always loved him more.

Now that Mom is gone, I'm more able to understand why she was the self-centered princess that I most remember. I may never understand her adoration of my brother and rejection of me. I don't hold it against him. He didn't understnd why she favored him either.

And my solution for the Mother's Day dilemna: I'd always get together with her a day or two before Mother's Day. I made it clear that this was to be our celebration, and I was leaving actual Mother's Day open for my brother. Guess what? He never acknowledged the day. And she STILL worshipped the ground he walked on.

Helene, thank you so much for the powerful post. I've been reading you because of your sense of humor. Now, I'm in awe of your strength and determination.

NDSUE

Creative Junkie said...

The ambivalence I feel towards my mother is worth thousands in therapy. Some people should not be parents. Simply put.

Except for some of the details, I know exactly whereof you speak.

Kimberly@PrettyPinkMomma said...

Helene, you are such a fabulous mommy! I was literally in tears at the end of your post. I can't imagine what that must be like, having to deal with a mother like that. It appears to me from the little I know about you that you most definitely have broken the cycle. I'm sure that it helps that you have a caring husband that understands where you are coming from and supports you, something that your mother seems didn't have. I now understand a little better why you are so delightfully funny in your posts - you have learned to use humor to help get through the little, and sometimes big, challenges that life throws in our way. You have my respect and admiration for being able to share something so deeply personal with your bloggy buddies. {{hugs}}

Theta Mom said...

WOW - you have been through so much and I thank you - for being an open, honest and brave blogger. Moreover, you are an AMAZING mother and for that, your kids will thank you one day.

Erin said...

Helene,
You are a phenomenal woman, mother, and blogger. You already have broken the cycle.

I can't tell you what to do, but I can say the decision lies in your hands. I have a similar situation going on in my life right now, and for the moment----I've decided I will not let myself be treated poorly anymore. I am standing up for myself. And the kids---may not get it now, but eventually we'll have a talk about it, or they'll begin to form their own opinions.

You have worth. You are an important person and a very hands-on, wonderful, doting mom. I am saddened that your mother treated you how she did and didn't stand up to your abuser. Shame on her. That would be enough for me to walk away. Yet I can understand the little girl inside.

Until that little girl inside realizes she is strong and valuable too (with or without her mother and her approval, etc.), the cycle will continue. I am so sorry you are feeling conflicted.

I care about you deeply although we've never met. And you are so brave and courageous for sharing all of this with us. Thank you. You are helping others who are struggling, too.

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

My heart breaks for you Helene. I am so sorry. I want to smack your mother for what she let happened.

You are nothing like her. You are the BEST!

My dad had 2 shitty parents who were selfish and always admitted they didn't want kids. Even though my dad knos they suck he still craved good words from his mom. It was so sad.

Robin said...

It is very brave to share this...and you did it so deeply..Helene..there are no words to describe a mother who ignores the pain of her child..I feel for you and wish you would be able to break the ties with her as your sister has..its not healthy to be around her..without boundaries.. maybe you can set them and lay it out on the line with her ..if she does not act as you require then she has chosen to break off the relationship, not you..try not to let her continue to hurt you..you are not the small helpless child as you were then.. now you have the power...You are an amazing person and mother..you are a gift to your family...!

Joy said...

what an honest and heartfelt post. thank you for sharing with us. From seeing what kind of mom you are from your blog, I never would have imagined you had a mom like you described. Just as a reader, I can tell your kids are most important to you. So I'm sure your kids know that!! The fact that you are intentially stopping the cycle of bad parenting and protecting your children is the most loving thing you can do for your children and their children.

MamaTech said...
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MamaTech said...
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Ali @ Mommie Life said...

That was absolutely beautiful. I can't believe you came from such a horrific past, including abuse, to rise to such a wonderful woman and mom that you are today. You are so strong and I admire you to the fullest! I am so sorry that your relationship with your mother is straining today, I couldn't imagine... My heart goes out to you and applauds you for being the bigger person.
I don't KNOW you per say but if I met you I'm pretty sure that "great mom" would be in a sentence to describe you. I love your blog and the truth that you write about. Hugs!

Megan said...

Oh wow, Helene, I had no idea you'd been through so much in your childhood and with your mom. I'm amazed by this incredible post of yours. It's clear to me that you have broken the cycle. Your kids are beyond lucky to have you as their mom. I just wish you'd been luckier when you were little, too, because you deserved much, much, much better than what you got.

Kari Day said...

Wow, I think your blog is amazing. You were so open and honest about your life. Great blog post!

Buckeroomama said...

I don't know you IRL, but from what I've read here on your blog, I think you rock, not just as a mom... you rock, full stop.

Liz @ Sugarplum Creations said...

Helene, I am so sorry. This just breaks my heart. BUT, Look how far you've come! You have proven you *can* break the cycle. You don't have to have the perfect childhood to provide a wonderful one for your own children. I am so proud of you for sharing and for overcoming, and even more for standing up and saying "no" to your Mom's BBQ. What a special day you will have with your own family.

Hugs ♥

2wired2tired.com said...

That must have been so difficult to write. You seem like such a wonderful person and mom and have such an amazing sense of humor, I never would have guessed you were dealing with all of this. I think you made the right decision and I hope you love every minute of Mother's Day this year. You deserve it.

jbvadeboncoeur.info said...

I totally support you in doing your own thing on mother's day. Not because of anything about your mother, I support you in taking excellent care of yourself so you can continue to take excellent care of others.
If you knew your mother's innermost heart, you would know that was the best she could do given her circumstances.
Bless you all.

Jenna said...

I commend you for writing this post as I know it is healing towards you. I am so sorry your mother treated you that way. And I know you can feel so proud to say that you are a wonderful caring supportive mother who has broken the cycle of abuse.

Also don't go to her house for Mother's day, instead spend the day exactly how you would like.

Carly said...

Helene, I can totally relate to you and your Mother . The only differance is that my Mother has written me off. She has not talked to me or seen me since my baby was 8 weeks old. He is now over one. She has no idea that I am pregnant. I promise that I have never done anything to cause her to dis-owned me. She is a woman with many problems and issues. It saddens me to this day. I feel I have always tried at our relationship and I can no longer let her not being in my life ruion it. Maybe I will blog about this soon. I too hope to enjoy this Mother day alone.

Tropical Mum said...

Although the beginning of your life story is very sad, your present is uplifting and inspiring. You have overcome some hurdles that most people would find really hard to get past with a positive outlook on life, yet you are a positive, loving and caring person with a great sense of humour.

We all have trials in life and I hope that with any that come my way, I can overcome them the way that you have.

The fact that you haven't yet written your Mom off, just shows that you are filled with compassion, and I imagine it goes against your nature to write anyone off. But you do need to protect yourself and your family from further hurt, and distancing yourself from the source of that hurt is a good way to do that.

Whew! That is enough from Dr Shelly. Feel free to disregard my babble--your post just touched my heart, and I just wanted to know that I think you're great.

Shelly

Crazy family of 5 said...

I feel like we almost had the same mother. Mine also liked my brother more then my sisters and I. She never wanted kids and was abusive herself. She was very violent to me and my father. I have no longer have any communication with her, and I am thankful for that. My kids don't need someone in their lives like her. When we grown older and understand things better, we know what the right thing to do is. I am sorry for what you went through. These situations only make us stronger!!!

Brittany

heather@it'stwinsanity said...

Helene,

I could have written this post myself. Almost word for word. From the abuse to the rejection... it's my life with my mother. She recently admitted to me that our failed relationship is a result of me not loving her as an infant. Like an infant can NOT love its mother?

Like you, I continually subject myself to her even though I know it will always be the same. She grew up not feeling loved and so that's made her who she is today. She doesn't like me, doesn't particularly like my kids, and is a generally unhappy person. And I continue to stay in contact. But why do you think it's easy for me to pick up and move across the country? Kinda makes those family gatherings impossible, right? ;)

Anyway, I just want to give you a big virtual hug and let you know that I totally get it.

Mariboo said...

Oh Helene~

This was soo DEEP, I def. put on my scuba gear. WOWIE WOW. I heart you for being so brave to tell your story. *much hugs*

Zeemaid said...

glad to hear you are going to take mother's day for yourself.

I can relate to a lot of what you're saying in the sense that it's hard not to still want their approval. I don't know why, it just is. It sounds to me like your mother suffers from some sort of personality dysfunction.

I hope you are able to have a lovely Mother's Day.

Mighty M said...

Helene - it is so special that you learned to overcome and be the kind of mom that yours could never be for you. So many make the same mistakes...you are a superstar!

Sharlene said...

Helene I just wish I could give you a big hug. Having a shitty mom is incredibly hard. My mom wasn't exactly peaches and sunshine either but she has made up for alot of my childhood by her actions and love for my children. Not to mention she actually tells me she loves me now. What a concept!

Anyway, this isn't my therapy session. What I wanted to say was that I aboslutely ADORE you and your strength and your honesty. I don't know how some moms can be so self centered and generally horrid. The thought of you telling your mom about the abuse you endured and her not showing a bit of sadness, upset, or compassion is mind boggling. If my daughter told me that later in life I think I would just cry for days. I have no doubt that all of your children feel loved every day. You are doing a great job.

I hope you gather the strength to stop the Mother's Day charade but I understand if you aren't ready. Saying no to the person whose approval you have been desparately trying to win over for your entire life must be incredibly hard. You will get there. I have faith. :)

jungletwins said...

Wow. You are an amazing Mother, Writer, Person. Such a brave post, such a strong lady. Just...wow.

Kristi said...

I have to say after reading the beginning of this post I was going to reassure you with my comment that you are obviously a great mother and have no characteristics of your own mother at all. But, I think you have come to that conclusion yourself and I was so happy to read that. I'm sorry that you had such an awful childhood but it's made you into such a very strong woman. You have broken the cycle and I'm sure your kids will be forever grateful to have such a warm and caring mother that does everything she can for them. I wouldn't doubt yourself for a minute and there is a reason why you have 105 comments on here supporting you. You rock and people look up to you. You've done more than break the cycle. You have turned the cycle around completely, really, you are pretty amazing.

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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