I got along real poorly with my mother from about the age of 13 until her death when I was 18. I think about her a lot, usually in a negative way.
I was thinking the other day, and the thought popped into my head- did I kill her? My behavior became problematic at around 13 and continued to be bad until 15. We never really sat down and hashed out our differences- my dad didn’t let on she was terminal until she was out of it.
My mother had a pretty disappointing life. Things went bad for our family when my dad lost his government job. He was out of work and going to school for a few years, and then we moved to a new area and he got into another career with less pay and prestige. She lost her social circle and her sense of social status and she had to go back to work.
During this time she developed colon cancer, got a late diagnosis and a colostomy, and then died. Maybe having an angry, misbehaving boy who rejected the thing most precious to her- her religion- put her over the edge. If she had possessed a little more insight, it might have occurred to her I was angry and misbehaving because she wouldn’t help me and her religion demanded unrealistic things of me, but she was not a person inclined toward introspection about such things.
Fundamentally I was a big disappointment to her. (I’m a big disappointment to a lot of other people, but that’s another story.) She came from a family of socially skilled, aggressive and successful people. She had a much more reserved personality than her two brothers and one sister, but was still quite good with people. My brother and sister are a lot more along her line, so their difficulties and failings in life come from other factors.
I on the other hand take after my father. He is quite quiet and reserved, although with people outside the family he opens up in a very charming way. He was actually popular in high school, but he went to an all-boys prep school with upper-middle class boys (although he himself came from a poor family) where a guy like that could be sort of a mascot for the cool guys.
If my mother was disappointed in me, and I’m just like my father, what does that say about their relationship? I think she was disappointed in him too.
I think my mother was ashamed of my geekiness and lack of ability to cope with bullies with social skills. A person like that was a loser in her book. And then the loser stole stuff, ran away from home and refused to go to church any more. Maybe I was the death of her.
But I can’t be responsible for her. Life holds no guarantees, especially with children. And if I caused her a lot of heartburn, well, she caused me a lot of heartburn. And she was an adult and I was a helpless child under her care, so I have more reason to be put out.
I’m not generally into Freudian stuff, but the first relationship with a woman a boy has is with his mother. The Spearhead has this post on dealing with women’s manipulations-
My mother was a very manipulative, passive-aggressive person. My brother has this characteristic also. She could do so much with just a hurt look……. But like I said, I’m a disappointment to a lot of people. Get in line, Mom.