A ‘dis­ap­point­ment’ to mom

The Peterborough Examiner - - Arts & Life - DEAR EL­LIE el­liead­vice.com

Q. For as long as I can re­mem­ber, my mother’s never been a per­ma­nent mem­ber of our house­hold.

She’s al­ways away on “work” trips (my par­ents own a shop).

Given how fre­quent, long, and gen­er­ally un­help­ful they are, I feel it’s her po­lite way of say­ing that she’s sick of us for now, and wants to get away.

I love her so much, and want her to be a good part of my life, but even on the rare oc­ca­sions where she’s home, she’s a night­mare.

She misses im­por­tant per­sonal events due to her “busi­ness trips,” such as my first day of pri­mary school, first time deal­ing with acne and grow­ing up, first re­la­tion­ship (which ended hor­ri­bly), first day of high school, first lacrosse game, first time try­ing on makeup, etc.

She con­stantly nags me to get rid of my acne which is dif­fi­cult to do, es­pe­cially if you’re ashamed to ask your par­ents for help and ad­vice, be­cause they’ll al­most def­i­nitely laugh in your face.

She makes me feel like such a hideous dis­ap­point­ment, no mat­ter how hard I try at school, at home, with my so­cial life, and with my face.

I’ve seem­ingly raised my younger brother and sis­ter more than she has, yet they’ve picked up her aw­ful habit of sham­ing and putting oth­ers down.

It’d be a dream come true, hav­ing a mother I could go to for ad­vice, and who’d care about me when I need it the most. Sorry if I seem overly dra­matic, but I want things to change.

How can I tell her how I feel about how she par­ents us? Would I be able to get her to love and pay more at­ten­tion to me?

A. The depth of your feel­ings are clear and trou­bling to read. Yet nei­ther you nor I know your mother’s true feel­ings … not about you, her­self, her mar­riage, or her sit­u­a­tion in life.

What you see and feel is that she’s dis­tant emo­tion­ally, and phys­i­cally away a lot.

This has ob­vi­ously been hard on you, es­pe­cially dur­ing the ups and downs of ado­les­cence and teenage.

But dur­ing that same time, some­thing has also been driv­ing her. Per­haps your mother will be able to tell you what and why as you be­come an adult. Or she may feel she can’t share her pri­vate in­ner life with her chil­dren.

Mean­while, here’s what you’ve re­vealed about your­self:

You’re ca­pa­ble and strong-minded, re­spon­si­ble in help­ing raise your sib­lings, coura­geous in try­ing all that’s avail­able from sports to dat­ing, de­spite the pit­falls of early ex­pe­ri­ences.

Con­tinue to use your per­sonal strength and in­tel­li­gence to achieve what you want. See your fam­ily doc­tor to dis­cuss your acne, but if that’s not pos­si­ble, try a drop-in clinic. Also re­search on­line to learn about healthy eat­ing that doesn’t ex­ac­er­bate acne.

When you feel con­fi­dent enough, ask your mother some gen­tle ques­tions (without ac­cus­ing, blam­ing or judg­ing) about why she trav­els so much.

It’s some­times pos­si­ble to build a dif­fer­ent mother-daugh­ter re­la­tion­ship, once you show that you’re ma­ture enough to lis­ten and try to un­der­stand a par­ent’s point of view.

In­sist now on more “to­gether time”

Feed­back: Re­gard­ing the wife whose hus­band’s too busy to spend time with her (Aug. 3):

“Years ago, my ex­tremely am­bi­tious hus­band spent most of his time at work or out of town. When he be­came more es­tab­lished, I chal­lenged his choices.

“He said he couldn’t set aside time to be with me (un­til he re­tired — in 30 years).

“I was of­ten a sole par­ent at our chil­dren’s school/sports-re­lated events. I cel­e­brated many an­niver­saries and birthdays alone. I pur­sued grad­u­ate stud­ies and cre­ated a net­work of friends and contacts. I ben­e­fited greatly, both pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally.

“We lived par­al­lel lives, be­com­ing strangers act­ing to­gether only as co-par­ents. Iron­i­cally, this was good prepa­ra­tion for our sub­se­quent sepa­ra­tion and di­vorce.

“She should in­sist now on more “to­gether time,” and coun­selling with her hus­band.”

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