I Got Upset And Became My Mother Yesterday, And It Sucked
I think even those of us with the most happy childhoods still have something that sets them off and brings back terrible memories. For me, it was the emotional outbursts my mother was prone to. To be fair, she did not have an easy life – and she was certainly entitled to be a human being. But I have such distinct, stress-filled memories of watching my mother occasionally come unhinged. I hated it. It’s one thing I always vowed to never do in front of my own children.
I’ve been having a rough week. My mother helps watch the kids while I write since my husband is away and has been for almost two months. It is something that I am very grateful for, but mother-daughter relationships are tough, and occasionally she does things that must trigger something in me that I have never fully resolved. She has this amazing way of making things about her at the most inopportune times. It’s like she can unconsciously sense when I’m breaking – and at that very moment acts in a way that reminds me of something I hated from my childhood. The only way I can describe it is emotional blackmail. Yes, there is such thing as the suffering Olympics – and she’s always the gold-medal holder.
Yesterday I returned home after a particularly hard day – I won’t bore you with the personal details, I’ll just say I’ve been a little stressed and very transparent with my mother about it. When I walked in the door of my house, I as usual asked my mom how the day went. She told me that my three-year-old threw a book at her. Not good. I went and talked to him, very sternly, and explained that I was really upset at what he had done and that he could not throw things at his grandmother. Then she walked into his room, crying hysterically. Immediately I thought, “Okay. This is too much for a three-year-old. My mom is obviously exhausted. I have to get the kids together and take her home.” I said, “Okay, mom. Let’s just go. You’re exhausted. The kids are hard to deal with. Let’s go.” I was clearly frustrated.
Cue my mother internalizing everything and making it about her. She started yelling about how she can’t say a word to me without me becoming upset, and her histrionics just elevated. I was getting incredibly frustrated that this was happening in front of the kids – and just trying to get us all out the door. She kept crying. I kept getting more and more frustrated. Finally – I snapped.
THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. CALM DOWN. HE’S THREE YEARS OLD AND YOU’RE BEING HYSTERICAL. CAN ANYONE ELSE JUST HAVE A SHITTY DAY? CAN YOU JUST GIVE ME A PASS, AND NOT FREAK OUT AND MAKE THE TANTRUM OF A THREE-YEAR-OLD ABOUT YOU AND ME TRYING TO GET YOU HOME ABOUT YOU BEING UNAPPRECIATED? CAN YOU JUST STOP YOURSELF? FOR ONCE?
“Too loud!” I hear. I glance down to see my three-year-old, looking scared. I realize that not only am I yelling at my mother – I’m also crying. I’m crying and yelling. In front of my child. I’m doing the exact thing that I hate having memories of, that my own mom did.
After I finally got my my home, I tried to explain to my child that I was just upset, and although I was disappointed that he hit his grandma with a book, that’s not the reason I was upset. Who knows if he got it. He’s barely four years old.
I got upset and became my mother yesterday. And it sucked.