being a mom

Turning Into Your Mother Is A Terrifying Prospect For Women Who Grew Up With Mean Moms

By  | 

MOm-daughter-oceanOnce you get to a certain age we all end up saying it: “Oh no, I’m turning into my mother.” Usually it’s followed by a feigned look of terror when doing something like calling our kids the wrong names, asking who Taylor Quick is, or saying, “That’s okay I’ll pick up your mess, I have nothing better to do!” sarcastically.

But for someone who was raised by a mother who wasn’t the best, “becoming my mother” takes on a far more serious tone. And when I became a mother myself, not being like her was more of a directive than a silly unpleasantry I’d bump into when searching my brain for my kid’s name.

It’s a tricky thing coming out to say your mother wasn’t the best. It’s even trickier to admit she was downright awful. You’ll just have to trust me when I say that my mother was reminiscent of the evil stepmother in your garden variety fairy tale book. My life with her inspired a persistent question that came up for me when I had kids: How do I become a good mother when she was my only role model?

This was never a fear of mine before I had kids. But then, my children arrived. I had babysat a lot of kids in my life and worked at a preschool, but I had never met a child like my daughter. Here’s the thing, the girl did NOT want to be nurtured. Still to this day at 8 years old, she wants affection only on her terms. In my pre-motherhood dreams I’d have a baby and we’d bond and share a bed and I’d look at her lovingly while I held her as she fell asleep. In reality this girl would not sleep unless she was in her own space, would literally get FURIOUS if I tried to rock her to sleep for a nap, and really seemed to not like me. A year in I would know that not to be true, and that she is just a stoic girl by nature who is fiercely independent and ALSO loves me. But as a new mom who was having difficulty bonding with my daughter, the fear that I was like my mother began to seep in. What if this is what my mother felt? What if I was like her, I just didn’t know it until it was revealed to me through having my own child? My mother (by her own admission) conditionally loved me. She only loved me if I abided by her vision of what she wanted me to be. So was I like her? Did I only love my daughter if she showed me affection back?

It was a scary time as I sorted through those feelings, but I soon found out that it was not true at all. Yes, it was harder to bond at first. And I do feel some shame that we didn’t bond immediately like I thought we would. But I was dominated by hormones, my daughter had acid reflux so she was upset a LOT and she didn’t want me to comfort her with affection. Yes, it made it harder to bond. But unlike my mother, I didn’t dismiss her full throttle and give up, declaring I didn’t love her. Our relationship didn’t look like I thought it would, but I worked on it with her and we came out stronger because of it. That’s not what my mother did.

Pages: 1 2