My post about aging brought out comments about mothers and our relationships with them (which wasn’t really the intent of my post). It reminded me of this article I read in “Coup de Pouce” (a local magazine) asking if we were obliged to love our mother. It almost seems inconceivable, doesn’t it? But what if our relationship with her makes us unhappy? That might happen. I know it does.
Despite the fact that she brought us up, gave us values like respect and being polite we often feel deceived or angry with our mothers. Their constant critiques of the way we dress, the way our hair is cut (or colour), our poor choice of friends (and boyfriends), our career choices, our weights, our grades, our successes, every little aspects of our lives are comb with a fine-tooth comb and commented on. It isn’t always negative, but those critics will alienate our love for her. Her attitude irritates us and if it were any friend doing this we would ditch them so fast. Because she’s our mother we feel guilty (so girly of us) or it is simply because of filial love. But, really, we don’t have to love our mother. Since my father died (seven years ago) I've been treating my mother the way I would a friend; if she says or does something that I would not tolerate from a friend, I let her know. It's not always easy, but it's so much easier between us.
Being raised in a society based on religious principles such as “Honour Your Father and Mother” it’s only normal that we feel guilt when we don’t feel all warm & fuzzy about our parents. Daughters will feel tormented by this because deep down we want that good relationship with our mom. On top of the mother-child link there’s the mother-daughter one which also makes the mother out as a model for us to look up to. We relate to her as a “girl/woman”. The first real conflicts usually occur in the teen years. We feel this need to be different from her, and yet we seek her approval.
If we tried to better understand our mother we might get along better. But in doing so, we shouldn’t feel sorry for whatever she went through. We’re not responsible for her either. We can only be compassionate. Often when we get pregnant all emotions regarding our mother come rushing back. If we had tried to stay away from her, we will then try to get closer. We realise that so many of the things we disliked about her were her way of protecting us. We often only realise that when we have a child of our own.
Often there’s a big gap between a “perfect” mother and the “real” one, who’s not so perfect. We must forget about the perfect one and see our mother for who she is. If our mother is frail or sick it might be a good time to tell her how we feel, but if she’s healthy we should let her know that we were unhappy during our younger years. We have to make sure it’s said in a way that it’s about the way we feel. Of course we’d love to hear her apologize and admit her wrongdoing but we shouldn’t expect that. The only thing we can really change is ourselves, and how we see things. If that fails, and if we still feel frustrated with her, we should try to limit our visits or the time spent on the phone with her. And if we decide to keep a relationship going, we have to accept the fact that forgiving is a long process. We should not hope that she would really change, because she may not, and that will add to our frustration. In the worst-case scenario, maybe we’ll have to cut our mother from our life. It might be temporary, but a needed pause. We shouldn’t hate ourselves for the anger we feel. If the idea of never seeing our mother again is unbearable, then let’s hope that with some help, some time and once we feel stronger and “healthier” we will be able to reconnect with her.