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Fuck you, Mama.

My mother and I have been cordially estranged for the past eight months or so, ever since she told me she couldn’t pray that I get pregnant. It’s cordial in the sense that no unkind words have been spoken and that I am polite and sometimes even pleasant when obliged to interact with her. It’s an estrangement in that I have reduced communication to the bare minimum. She doesn’t know about the IUIs or the surgery or any of it. We’ve spoken maybe twice since Christmas, and exchanged a few letters. In my last to her I thanked her for leaving me alone. So when she left a message on Thursday asking me to call, I assumed my grandmother had died.

But no. She wanted to tell me she’d heard a NPR program claiming that the sound of a mother’s voice is comforting. She then said (you know, in her comforting mother’s voice), Everything is okay. You’re fine, everything’s good.

Like with the I can’t pray comment, it might not be obvious why this made me want to sever all ties with her immediately. Her intention is clearly to be supportive. And if she doesn’t know what’s going on in my life, it’s because I’ve shut her out. But I feel like once again she’s managed to find something to say that a) denies my pain, and b) suggests that rather than suffering, I should just let the universe do with me what it will.

Is it unreasonable to think no one is entitled to tell me everything is good? I feel I’ve been clear that everything is not good, though I’ve not given her the details. (And I’d totally give her the details, except she keeps demonstrating this penchant for undermining, hurtful comments.)

I guess my choices, beyond writing about this and hoping you guys will validate my pain (So you know what’s expected of you! Don’t let me down!), are to write to her explaining why she can’t say things like that and why she needs to really, really leave me alone for REALS (I could even ask her not to respond, to avoid the next hurtful comment…) or to add this to the ever-increasing sum of rage I feel towards her. What with my super-sophisticated understanding of the human mind and all, it’s pretty clear which is the more responsible choice. But it’s so hard to want to repair a relationship with someone who has just sucker-punched you.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. JC #

    I actually let out a loud "HA" when I read that your mom heard "the sound of a mother's voice is comforting". Lol, what a bunch of bullshit for her to all the sudden feel like she can call you up and be all comforting and make everything OK. It's not ok. Sure she's trying to be comforting or supportive in a way she thinks is right but it's not. And yes you haven't told her what's going on…but you haven't because you know she can't be there for you based on her comment about not being able to pray that youd get pregnant. And it's not your fault for not telling her, I wouldn't either. I kind of relate this to how I am with my MIL (although I know it's very different), but I don't tell her ANYTHING regarding my TTC anymore. Zip. In fact when my hubby and I took her to breakfast for Mothers day Fred said if she brought up having a baby he would tell her I had a hysterectomy, lol. I think if you want to write her to explain why she can't say things like that you should. I also agree with maybe saying she shouldn't respond. At least in my case I've found people (my MIL) don't change so her response might be just as bad as before.

    May 15, 2010
  2. It is NOT unreasonable of you at all. She should either tell you good things or keep her mouth shut. I honestly believe that goes for everyone on the outside looking in and especially for nearest and dearest.Both comments (I went back and read the earlier post, which I'd missed – all I can say is: sheesh) are about her and not even remotely about you. The first seems like an easy-breezy "this is my life philosophy" comment, which is unfair because in the middle of other people's troubles no one has a right to spout their life philosophy. This last sounds like she is trying to make – in some very weird way – things right. But she can't. She doesn't have a crystal ball and she can't put the universe to rights (and, anyway, that conflicts with the "let the cards fall where they may" attitude). She doesn't even know what has been going on, so how can she possibly tell you it's going to be alright? And, yeah, some of that is because you haven't told her. But the lion's share is because you haven't told her BECAUSE you've needed to protect yourself from comments that cut you to the quick. I believe in self protection. And whatever you need to do to protect yourself is the right move in my book. If your mom is an enlightened enough soul to get it once explained to her, then I would. But if it's going to go in one ear and out the other, then I probably wouldn't. Sorry, Bunny. I do understand why you're angry.

    May 15, 2010
  3. Wow. Sucker-punched is right. It's so hard when people we love do and say really really stupid things when we know they don't mean to. But it doesn't make it ok. You have every right to want some distance when your communication results in pain and frustration for you.I'm just sorry she's not more supportive (even though she may be trying)…but I agree with and totally understand your need for space.

    May 15, 2010
  4. JB #

    I have a severe bias, because I am voluntarily estranged from my mother and have been since she threw a tantrum at my wedding reception, because I didn't pay enough attention to her individually that night. She didn't cause a scene, but it was the last straw for me to hear that vitriol come out of her mouth. (Backstory: parents divorced when I was ~6-7, mother went [continued to be?] nuts and shut our father and his family and even her own family out of our lives, had a series of abusive boyfriends and husbands who ruined my childhood in unimaginable ways, and to this day my mother feels that I "exaggerate" and am "too negative" about my childhood memories.)I blocked her email address and do not take or return her calls or texts. I throw away her letters. All of them are along the same lines as your mom's – "I am so great, you should want a relationship with me" or things to that effect. There's never been a regard for my happiness, what I want out of life, or what this relationship does for me (nada, zip, zilch). I actually went to therapy for the first time in order to figure out what to do about this, and to my surprise, left therapy with validation that it is okay to sever ties with someone who is deliberately disrespectful and who does not show care or concern for my well-being. That I deserve to be happy on my own terms and to not have to continue carrying the baggage she throws on my back. That I can't control her behavior and have no obligation to suffer for it. So I don't speak to her. At all. This has resulted in her ramping up her manipulative behavior (be forewarned), even resorting to leaving voicemail messages implying a relative had died (untrue) to get me to call back. I only fell for that once. I have not, and will not, tell her that I am having a baby because I will get all murdery if I have to hear her say "That's MY grandchild, I have rights!" (considering she has played her "you're my child and I have a right to see you when I want" cards many times). It never goes away, it just gets contained. Like an oil spill. Which is to say, not completely but you hope it slows the damage.Did NOT mean to turn this into my own cathartic rant, but there it is. Bottom line, I think you are entitled to be angry and I think you are entitled to protect yourself and your adult life and family any way you need to. If she generally leaves you alone, I would avoid contact and let that be. The thing to remember is, she will never change. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. Don't hold out hope that she will become the mother you want and need. Circle the wagons, bunny. That's what I say.

    May 15, 2010
  5. JB #

    In that long-ass rant, I forgot to add that I have tried writing, calling, etc. to explain my hurt feelings to my mother, and it did not help her understand nor did it change her behavior. I would advise to ONLY do that if you think that getting it out of your system will make YOU feel better, because it will likely have little effect on her.*off of soapbox now*

    May 15, 2010
  6. It can be tough when the people who are supposed to be there for us no matter what aren't. It is hard when they say ignorant shit and it makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with them. You have every right to be upset, hurt and fed up with the lack of support. Your mom sounds like she may be trying and is just not capable of giving you what you need. I would say that you should decide to either try to explain things to her and be clear about what role she can play in your future, or create more of a space between you. If you have to go through an IVF cycle or god forbid multiple, comments like the one's she makes might push you over the edge.

    May 15, 2010
  7. I guess I see things differently, and it may well be because I'm pregnant (feel free to hate me, I understand and don't mind). But what I see is this: no she didn't give you what you wanted or needed, and was totally clueless while doing it. But it seems to me this came from a place of love and a place where she WANTS things to be better for you because she is your mom. Even the first conversation, as ill-conceived as it was, seemed to be (very ineptly) coming from that same place.Your goal is to become a mom, and now that I am getting close, it scares me to think about my own mother, who I assure you drives me completely fucking insane a lot of the time. I don't want to be her at all. But she does love me so much. You would be so much better at helping a future daughter deal with what you are going through in this instance than your mom is, but I'm not sure that means you will be able to "get" *any* and all types of pain she might have and deal with it well in all circumstances. Or at least I feel this way about myself. I can try to avoid the obvious pitfalls I know my mom made/makes with me, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to royally piss off/alienate/invalidate my kid's feelings at some point.Then there's this. I know what she said hurt you very deeply both times, and I do understand why. But I have noticed I am TERRIFIED to think of what I will do any time my kid is really hurt, physically or emotionally. If it's anything like I do for my dog, who is my 1st baby for reals (I mean it's silly how much I love this dog), or for my young cousin who I am close to…My first reaction is always going to be a mantra of "you're ok, you're ok, it's all fine…" – ESPECIALLY if I don't think that's really the case. This isn't because I want to invalidate. This is because I do not want to freak out the hurt person/dog more, I WANT them to believe it is better than it is, and I want to shield them from the true extent of how shitty and dangerous and unfair life can be. Even if it's impossible. But in a way it makes sense, although when my mom does it to me it often does make me HUGELY angry. Because if SHE freaks out and is like, everything is DOOM, DOOM – well, the fear I would feel from that really might be worse than the righteous anger I get from feeling invalidated. All this being said, your mom really may be a callous, selfish, inconsiderate person at heart – I just read your blog, I don't know the reality. In any case, I feel your pain, while I don't truly get it, I feel it and only wish the best for you. Will continue to read and root for you (I don't pray for anything as am an atheist/agnostic, for what it's worth).

    May 15, 2010
  8. What Adele said.It's selfish of her to put her own need to spout her beliefs (and use NPR to affirm them!) instead of providing you with the emotional support that YOU need.I commend you for telling us exactly what you need and expect from us. I like it when people spell it out clearly, so that I can stop putting my own spin on it and simply give what has been asked of me, and I'm working hard on learning how to ask that of other people.I think it's fair to tell/write your mom exactly what it is you and need from her, and to let her know in no uncertain terms that if she cannot provide it in a loving and unjudgmental way, then she just keep her mouth shut.

    May 15, 2010
  9. Sorry, bunny. Urg. Mothers.Reminds me a bit of my mother telling me I never get lonely, when I was single (huh?) or am such a resilient person (right!).I think it's just more bearable for her to believe these things, because she is an empathetic person, in reality. It's a kind of denial. Stickles' point above is good. It might be worth it spelling out what you need. Your mother may surprise you, and at least you'll have got it off your chest.

    May 15, 2010
  10. What Adele said.I'm sorry Bunny, really I am, as I have a mother much the same and I do understand, I really do.

    May 15, 2010
  11. Oh bunny. Perhaps you should put a call into NPR and update them on that "comforting mom voice" shtick.As much as my mom drives me batty a lot of the time, I know that I need her and rely on her. I'm sorry that you are suffering through this while also grieving your father and estranged from your mother. That is so much to bear at once.

    May 15, 2010
  12. *hugs* bunny. i didn't realize that your mom had said those things back in january about not praying for you. that would've made me flip my $hit in ways unimaginable. ppl who get pregnant easily, or who used to, will never realize what we are going through. at all. they either think "it's bound to happen sooner or later so what's the big deal" (yeah, if only it could be so simple) or, "some ppl just aren't meant to have kids" (only a fertile would say this).you don't need your mom's prayers bc you have all of ours, and i'm sure they're better quality prayers for you anyways. you have every right to be upset, and especially given that she won't pray for you, i can't imagine that hearing her voice on the other end of the phone was very soothing. in fact, i have to imagine the very opposite. lots of hugs to you :o)

    May 16, 2010
  13. You know, I think there may be something to that comforting mom voice thing. It was comforting…to *her.* And maybe that's the point. It's a sad thing to think about, but sometimes support can come from a bad place. I am majorly projecting here, but I'm guessing your *mother* really needed to feel good about supporting you, so she did something that would make her feel better.It's the opposite of listening and of giving someone the kind of support they need (and often are screaming for). It's selfish and bullshit and unhelpful, and I'm sorry it happened to you. But hey, at least she feels like she's helping. :-/

    May 16, 2010
  14. Ack! Your mom…is something else. I don't think she understood the concept of how a mother's voice could be comforting.It goes beyond you just physically hearing your mother's voice. She has to be emotionally involved in your life, obviously have a love for you that can be heard in her every tone, and is actually COMFORTING YOU IN THE MOMENT. Like at your bedside, feeding you ice chips and putting a cold hand on your brow (obviously calling up childhood memories here of a comforting moment with my own mother). Not just calling you up like she's going to hypnotize you with her voice. So weird.And yes, it does seem rather demeaning, like she is reducing all of your pain to a simple "boo-boo" that just needs mother's kiss to go away.Sorry :(.

    May 16, 2010
  15. Adele nailed it. It's all about her performing the role of "mother" according to her own fantasy script. Here's wishing you lots and lots of authentic love and support IRL.

    May 16, 2010
  16. Al #

    I think you're completely validated in feeling sucker punched and hurt by her comment. It's your life and it's up to you to decide if everything is fine or not. And it's not fine.It's like my Mom saying to me whenever I speak to her that good things are coming. That all this pain for some reason is leading to somewhere wonderful soon. But isn't that what she said last time? That things would work out the next time I got pregnant? And then I did, and then what happened?! I got shat on by life again. It doesn't help that somehow someway down the line things are going to be okay and roses and flowers are waiting for me…because, you know what, right now I'm just trying to claw myself out of a shit hole full of quick sand. Sometimes, it's okay to say that things suck. Because they do. Life isn't always peaches and now amount of talking yourself into thinking it's okay in however soothing of voice is going to make things suddenly okay.Why is it that our mother's can't accept this life truth and we have live it on a daily basis?If it were me, I would send a letter or an email telling her why you're hurt by such words that minimize your pain. Tell her how she should act. And if she still can't be supportive in the way you need her to be, cut her off.Sorry she's so….dismissive. I would be furious too.GL, Bunny. I hope things get better soon.

    May 16, 2010
  17. Oh bunny, the good thing is that you've had so much good advice given to you here already so I just have to agree with all the previous commenters really because you are totally within your rights to feel the way you do. It is completely justified. Your mom's comment was so ridiculous and patronising. How could she think it could have possibly helped you? It's as helpful as the 'relax and it will happen' philosophy… not helpful at all.Relationships between daughers and mothers are complicated, well mine is anyway and I am constantly stunned at the patronising things that come out of my mothers mouth. It's nice that you can identify that your mom means well but is that really enough? Shouldnt a mother actually DO well? Isn't that the least you could ask for from your mother?I'm not sure what I'd do now if I were you. It's sad that the mother/daugher relationship can't be perfect for everyone. I often feel guilty for my lack of connection with my mum. For years i've blamed myself because I assumed that since I was the child it must be my fault. But as the years go by I realise that it takes two and when you are both coming from different angles on such a delicate subject its sometimes better to keep things at a distance and protect the little you have left of your relationship with her. That would be my advice, but then I am the queen of conflict avoidance.Good luck Bunny, and rest easy, you've done nothing wrong here. xxxxxxx

    May 17, 2010

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