A ‘disappointment’ to mom
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.”