Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day Isn't A Good Day For a Lot of Daughters

I had a mother I wasn't good enough for no matter how hard I tried. She didn't make a secret of her expectations and I tried to live up to them, but I always fell short. You might think this was some rebellion or some passive agressive bullshit of a sullen daughter and maybe in my adolescence for a moment or two you would have been right, but I did try to be a good enough daughter for my mother from beginning to the bitter end.

There are many people who knew my mother and almost worshipped her.  The mythology about her is larger than life and I have no reason to do battle with that ghost.  That woman was a fiction anyway so no amount of revision can correct the record.  That woman had press clippings. That woman won awards and served on boards of directors and Grand Juries.  That woman went to the International Year of the Woman.  That woman was a poet and an artist.  That woman was a pioneering Utah Feminist and those two words aren't often spoken in the same sentence together.  That woman was larger than life.  And I knew her just well enough to know my job was to stay well out of her lime light.

My mother told her fans and those she called her friends that she loved me, but I knew that was part of her image.  How could you tell your friends you didn't love your own child? Truth was it was motherhood she hated.  And any competition for attention. Maybe it wasn't personal, but why did she hang onto me so desperately? To me it seemed like mere sadism, that need to ruin things for me just when I was starting to have a bit of a life for myself.  She would manufacture some personal crisis of hers that required my return home to Utah and I'd be trapped again. Why was I so dutiful?  Why was I so obedient? It was then again the list of my many failures and shortcomings that would be hauled out and enumerated over and over just in case I'd forgotten how much of a failure I really was. I smelled bad to her, she hate my voice, I walked too fast or too slow, I payed to much attention to others and too little attention to her. I didn't share her hatreds or causes. She hated fat people. Though always skinny, I empathized with them. I always felt sorry for the targets of my mother's enmity, since I'd always been one. She said jump, I asked how high.  Why was that? Why did I never have the courage to turn my back and walk away?  Because she was my mother.  That's the power a mother has.  Use it well mothers.  You have the power to warp a life forever.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

It's posts like this that made me stop reading your blog on a regular basis. Your blog is a black hole of negativity.

grettalulu said...

Misery loves company, so I found comfort on this lonely day. I am so sorry you had such a bad experience.

Nan said...

Sorry you had such a bad experience.

Utah Savage said...

Dear Dr Monkey Von Monkerstein, I'm sorry I was not able to manufacture some conventional sweetness on mother's day to satisfy the needs of happier readers. Sounds like you've found me insufferable for a long time. Sorry about that, but I'm just the sad little crazy bitch that I grew into, in part because of that crazy mother and her insatiable need to punish me for not being good enough for her. I spent a lifetime stuffing my feelings, but here in this space I get to say what I feel for a moment and not sugar coat it. I cared for my mother in her long slow death from vascular dementia. I was a far more loving daughter than she had any right to deserve, but that's because I'm that kind of person, not because I was her daughter.

Grettalulu, My mother is dead, so I have no longer to dance to the tune of cards, flowers, calls and all the rest of the obligations of duty to a mother who deserved none of it. Now I celebrate a bit of freedom long overdue. If you found comfort I'm glad.

Nan, No sorry necessary. It's all in the past. I only write about it now as a way of saying to other women who have to dance to the tune of despotic mothers, you aren't alone.

Kay said...

I found your post sad but I so feel sad that you had such misery perpetuated by one sick person. I think we all have someone like that in our lives on occasion. And we deal in many different ways. It is terrible that it was you biological mother who should have been an instrument of uplift and love in your life. Since she wasn't and is gone, I hope you have found different love in your life and have learned that you are valuable and wonderful for yourself. The line was drawn when she died and you did your due diligence. I hope you have crossed that line into a life of fulfillment and happiness that you have made for yourself.

Beach Bum said...

I've mentioned my late mother a time or two and this day is one of mixed feelings at best. Mom was a person of unique cruelty and indifference to her children and her hold on us, especially my younger siblings, was akin to that of a cult.

I do my best not harbor ill feelings since it only brings me down, maybe thats why I have embraced the carefree Jimmy Buffett mindset as much as possible.

Peggy, hate to ask this my I would greatly appreciate your opinion of a short story on my blog right now. It's a lost love, almost romance with a Southern flare.

BBC said...

I had no fucking use for my mother and did little to try to please her.

Nikki said...

Im sorry about your relationship with your mother. This makes me appreciate my mother a bit more now. :)
best wishes
~Nikki Carter

Cleveland Bob said...

I loved your post.

Honest, forthright and true. Just because you're biologically linked to someone does not mean you have to like them...although you're right, the dutiful stuff is a hard rap to beat.

My Father is a blowhard fake who traffics in many of the same behaviors your mother excelled in. My brother and I still call each other Biff and Happy. Ha.

Good on you, Savage. You're a brave and well adjusted person in this reader's eyes.

gfid said...

i had a similar experience with my stepmother, to yours with your mother. did they have any inkling of the damage they inflicted? Dr Monkey, i fear, isn't comfy with real... and calling your words "a black hole of negativity" is positive? a case of pot calling kettle, methinks.... i've been out of the loop, mostly caring for an elderly father after the death of the aforementioned evil stepmother. mother's day has become a day to help my granddaughter make a fuss over my daughter, and to do something nice for myself. no more unsuccessful attempts to be the daughter of someone who actively disliked me. The day is redeemed.

Naj said...

Hello Utah!

yesterday's girl said...

When I was a kid I used to ask my Mother if I were adopted. I won't be upset if I am, I would say.
Do you suppose we could be sisters?
Mom sounds the same.