A week ago I drove almost 2 hours (each way) in early morning hours, to visit my mother.
My mother and I have an “interesting relationship”..
I think many women have an “interesting relationship” with their mothers. I am not a psychologist but I know this relationship is a naturally complex one, and research proves it.
So a few minutes after arriving, I suggested we go for a walk towards the nearby park. my mother is 75 and after surgery, and I strongly believe that physical exercise is crucial for her health.
She looked at me and bluntly said: “i am not going anywhere with you until you put on makeup”.
At first I thought she was joking. (she has a great sense of humor by the way). when she repeated it – still no smile on her face, and added a demanding tone to her voice, I realized this was no joke.
This was my mother telling me I wasn’t pretty enough for her without the mask and camouflage of make up.
(I stopped wearing makeup since my 50th birthday, (read here why –Why (and how) I stopped wearing any makeup-and a frugal tip!)
Up until that moment, I felt gorgeous .I look at the mirror and smile at my reflection, I go to work feeling good about my appearance, and the whole issue -has stopped being an issue for me for-until those remarks.
I am 50, for crying out loud -(if you are wondering- I did cry out loud later in my car on the way to work) – and I still care so much what my mother thinks of my personal choices. wow. does this ever stop??
When I was 18 I left home- at first came on weekends, then came on holidays -and since I moved up north- almost 14 years ago- I don’t make the trip that often.
For years I had difficulties enjoying family dinners- although my mother puts a lot of effort and money into the fancy side of hosting: she has expensive cookware and makes many gourmet dishes -but I have genuine difficulties enjoying that food , and for years I didn’t understand why.
Looking back, I realize that my difficulties had/have a lot to do with my unresolved issues with her, issues that led her to say something so offensive- in my opinion- to me.
That got me thinking about my relationship with my kids: am I guilty of the same behaviour? am I letting any of my children believe they are anything short of marvelous?
Should we tell our children our honest opinion about how they look -what they wear- their choice of friends- their school skills?
I mean- should we give them our honest opinion if they never asked for it to begin with?
Is this our “obligation as parents”?
“If we don’t tell them the truth- how will they improve? ”
It’s been over a week since that visit- and I still can’t stop thinking about it.
I can’t ask my children a direct question -obviously- I can only try to reflect on my relationship with them, and hope that the fact that I honestly think they are the most wonderful human beings to walk the face of this earth– is a good sign that I probably didn’t base my relationship with them on criticism instead of reassuring them that they are wonderful and capable- and therefore can do whatever they wish- even if they sometimes fail.
I have no idea if this is the right way to go – and don’t get me wrong- I’ve had my share of arguments with my children- harsh things were said, and I regret saying 99% of them.
I wish I were a perfect parent, I wish I was that laid back mother earth always calm and relaxed waiting at any hour to feed them with their favourite food and listen to their troubles. I most definitely am not that kind of mother- and honestly I never was.
I work full-time at a very demanding job- lame excuse I know and yet- I almost never waited for them when they came back from school, most of the time I was so tired my eyes closed while they were ranting about their teachers, and I can only say to my defense that I did the best I could.
I hope so.
I hope I never offended them in a way that made them question their choices, their appearance, their partners: themselves.
If you are wondering whether I
confronted talked to my mother about the way I felt -well, no. I didn’t.
I know some may think avoiding difficult conversations such as this one is the wrong way to go, and that you cannot build a healthy relationship when one party has unsolved issues that are repressed .
I am a strong believer in this exact attitude as a general rule .
But in this case-I am hesitating.
I understand some people believe it is ok to give their opinion- harsh as it may be- without sugar-coating it in any way.
Truth is something I value highly, and it seems to be very double-standard of me to be a strong advocate of truth when it suits me- and to deny it and call it unfair and cruel criticism when I am being told something I find offensive.
Plus- I tend to think that trying to change your parent’s behaviour at a certain age- has a less than 5% chance of succeeding, while more than 100% chance of turning into a major argument involving buried issues from both sides.
I am still thinking about it.I would love to hear your take on this.
p.s. thank pexels free photos for a good photo that captured my intention.