Maybe this is going to sound like a big, self-indulgent whine fest, but I need to complain about it.
I’ve always had issues with my mother. She’s incapable of giving me a compliment or telling me I’ve done a good job at anything. I thought maybe this was just me, being hyper-sensitive and weird, but I got an email from a friend yesterday that justified my feelings. He said he’d be happy to come to the housewarming we’re going to have “Just so long as your mother doesn't go on pontificating and noting how you do a lot of things wrong.”
So, it’s not just me. I was really starting to feel like I had this complex left over from my childhood or something, like I was reading into things.
Last night was the capper, though. She was telling me how her friend was over the other night, admiring A’s graduation picture my mother has on the mantelpiece. The friend thought A was a handsome kid (he is – you’ll just have to believe me). My mother agrees with her friend. After relating this to me, she says, “Well, it stands to reason he’d be handsome, doesn’t it? I mean, after all, his dad is a very good-looking guy.” I’m waiting for the “and you’re very pretty, too,” or some such thing, but no. She just starts talking about knitting or quilting or something. I can’t even remember, I was so stunned.
I mean, even if you think I’m a troll, lie. Is it THAT difficult to pay me a compliment? To tell me that my child looks like me and how handsome he is?
I used to think there was something wrong with me, that I was fundamentally flawed and a failure because she never, ever thought I did anything well. I’m constantly held up to my sister and step-sister and found wanting. “Your wedding was nice, but K’s (the step-sister) was just SO classy.” “It always made me chuckle to hear your high school chorus attempting to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. That high A was so brutal.” “Well, yes, that’s nice, but did you see the piece of art that your sister did?”
And she wonders why I have zero self-confidence.
This is why I praise my kids to the sky when they do things. Yes, O’s soccer team has yet to win a game, but I always, always, always tell her how great they played, how much they’ve improved, how hard it is because they have no subs. I play up her strengths. If she talks about weaknesses, we strategize how best to overcome them. When A’s show choir took second place in a competition, I was thrilled for him. I always tell him how great I think he’s doing with that stuff. I get interested in the stuff he’s doing and I tell him how proud I am of him when he improves his grades in a class he’s had trouble with. I try really, really hard to be there for my kids, to be supportive and kind. I don’t want to stand by and watch as they fall and then tell them what they did wrong; I want to be their safety net, the person they come to when the world kicks them in the shins.
My mother is incapable of that. Nothing is ever good enough. She finds fault in everything I do. Everything. It’s a suck ass way to go thru your childhood, feeling like you’re a big, fat disappointment to your parents. It’s not a fun way to live as an adult, either.