Monday, September 14, 2009


We're finally company-free tonight. And it feels really good. I feel like my true purpose and duties always get clouded when I'm trying to please someone else. And I suppose they do.

Now I need to pick up the pieces of my real life and put everything back in order. What does Mark need? Have I been supporting him? I haven't gotten to talk to him. What does he need me to do?

Time to get the kids off the TV and back into the family world.

Time to get back to the running of the house.

I used to feel overwhelmed by the duties that can back up while you're entertaining, now I'm energized by them. I feel out of sorts if I'm not doing them, and happy to get back to my own life.

I'm a "pleaser" personality, and it's draining for me when I am unable to "please" someone even when I'm trying so hard. I always feel like I fail at that with my mom. I just need to realize that there is nothing I can do to please her. My duties are to my husband and children, not to her. My worth comes from my relationship with God, not my relationship with her. And that's ok.

So I feel a release when the visit is over. I can go back to being myself. Let my guard down. Put my focuses back where they should be, and never should have left.

I love my mother. All I want is for her to be happy with me. I've been striving for it my whole life. And that's the problem.

But I guess that's the mother/daughter drama eh? I may open up comments on this one for some discussion. Do you have a good relationship with your mother? How have you worked through your conflicts? What attitudes/perspective have you achieved?


Gail said...

I would have to say I do have a good relationship with my mom, and probably a better one than say the one my sister has with her or my brother has with her....but it was not always that way by any means,haha. My Lupus changed me as a person a lot, and in turn changed our relationship, and changed my appreciation for her. I also think me getting married, and being an adult, and all that helped our relationship. It was lot of circumstance changes. The biggest one being my condition and everything that came with it, that was the biggest catalyst for change.

Our visit recently went enormously better than I thought. I too try to please her, try very hard to be something she will approve of, something she will be proud of...but what I realized from the visit is she is pleased, she is proud, she does approve. And I don't even need to try as hard as I do, cause the natural me, she likes that person. I was actually very disappointed she left. She was a great help to me, and I learned a lot watching her interact with Roland, about paitence, about technique, about practical things, etc. I wish I could have her around more...but not too much, haha.

I think gratitude is the perspective that helped me. She was there for me my whole life, and I never really had the attitude of gratitude about that, until I encountered great great suffering early in my diagnosis, and she helped carry me through. it might have been the 1 millionth time she had, but that time had greater significance compared to the other times...also becoming a mother myself changed my perspective, now I realize there were indeed millions of times she carried me through.

Still we have our moments, haha. In the end though, I don't think she is much different than she was years ago when our relationship was not so hot. The person that changed was me, I think she is the same her for the most part.

Anonymous said...

I have a good relationship with my Mom at this point. It was hard to get it to that point. I never fully appreciated her in my younger years. About 3 years ago, I realized that she is the person on this Earth that loves me the most and would do anything (and I mean ANYthing...anyone recall my crazy surgery mishaps?!) for me. We have our issues...constantly, honestly. But we have decided to work through them and even avoid subjects if we have to. I have been very honest with her about what bothers me and what I need from her, and after many years, she is very supportive and rarely pushes my buttons. :) I think she is proud of me, though I wasn't sure of that for a long time.

Maybe you should talk to your mom about what you need from her (if you haven't already that is)...

Just Me said...

I think I might have a "different" kind of mother, haha. Just a little context...

I was basically one of those super pleaser kids growing up. My worst offense was maybe being moody (but of course never yelling) and almost getting a "B" in a class. I never smoked, drank, did drugs, had sex, partied, snuck out, nothing.

In fact, I wasn't really allowed out much at all.

I went off to college and found "freedom"! Well, sort of. I was just having sex and spending most of my days and nights, with my boyfriend (not dozens), who I later married.

This + getting a D on a mid semester report in one class was enough for my parents to disown me. I got a not so nice letter saying they wouldn't watch my "destruction" and not to contact them. Oh, and cut up my emergency credit card (which I'd never used) so I didn't add stealing to the list. Ouch.

Lots of on and off drama since then which boils down to - her love is conditional based on my behavior.

I see the same thing playing out between her and my son Hayden. Her love is conditional on him loving her first - which is not an easy task for a two year old.

Gail said...

I understand this, as I have seen it with Dan and his father. Dan's dad's love is definitely conditional, to the pt that unconditional love was an odd concept to Dan for awhile.

Gail said...

Loving someone first is hard for even an adult, as how does one show this love to your mom? Sitting down with Hayden and explaining love languages would be interesting.

Robyn said...

I've been really and truly blessed with both my parents and my in-laws. I was always (still am) a pleaser too, and never got into any real trouble. That said, I know I was a snotty teenager sometimes and lost my temper, did stupid things, whatever. The great thing about my mom is that she and I are a lot alike -- we get mad, we lose our tempers and then we're over it. Most of them time, we'd yell at each other and then make up on the spot; neither of us can stay mad long. I think she saw a lot of drama in her own family growing up and learned the hard way. It's a shame she had to learn that way, but I think it's cool that she's been able to change things so her kids didn't have the same experience she did. For the record, we don't yell at each other anymore -- that was when I was a kid. ;)

I don't remember any real conflict with my MIL, but part of that I'd attribute to her style of dealing with conflict, which is to head it off before it gets going. I think she's also dealt with family drama and had enough of it. Another thing that helps is that she and I have been close since I was in junior high, so I had years to get to know her and learn to work with her and relate to her without there being any pressure from her being my MIL. She even wrote to me once a week when I left for college, and that was before Aaron and I had ever noticed each other.

Let me state for the record that this does NOT mean I have a perfect family... we're just dysfunctional in other ways. :) And I don't want it to sound like I'm bragging about my "perfect" Mom and MIL, but thought it might be encouraging that you can come from a background of family drama and conditional love and completely reverse that thinking in your own family. I think that's what you're doing already, Mel!

Gail said...

Interesting to me is that now that she is gone, you can get back to things like running of the house, and less TV watching by the kids, and more attention to your husband's needs, etc....whereas for me, to please my mom, is to super focus on those things, so when she visits I feel I have to be super wife, super mom, super woman...and than when she leaves, I am like ahhh, back to being the real mediocre me....What is it that pleases her?

LeftyMama said...

It's comforting to know that so many people are blessed with loving, supportive parents, but I thought you might also want to hear from someone with similar experiences to yours, Mel. I can't speak directly to the mother question, as I lost my biological mother to cancer as a small child. I did, however, grow up with lots of surrogate mothers in my life, primary among them my two much older sisters and my step-mother ("Mama") who raised me from the age of 7.

Mama did the very best she knew to do, accepting me as the daughter she never had after raising 4 boys to adulthood. She taught me about faith/religion/ethics and how to be a good wife & mother. She gave me her time and loved me as her own. As an adult (especially after her death in 2007) I can appreciate how extraordinary that is. BUT, we had tons of conflict in our years together and from the time I hit puberty, we were very distant from one another. Mama did not understand me (for a variety of reasons) and often withheld her approval/support in what I found to be odd and cruel ways. In retrospect, I've come to think that much of the problem was that she wanted MY approval; any deviation from her modeling was seen as a rejection of HER, and she responded in kind (not the way that we'd hope a mature parental figure would, but only human and maybe understandable for a woman in a step-mother situation). She didn't seem to know that it's only natural for children to separate from their parents and find their own paths in life, and that truly, if you set them free, they will be more likely to come back to you. Interestingly, this is exactly the same conflict that she had had with her own parents when she left the nest....

(continued on next post)

LeftyMama said...

We've talked before about my difficult relationship with my older sister. While (through years of difficult personal "work") I've learned to accept her for who she is and to understand that she will likely never change, it still smarts when she pushes my buttons, and she knows how to do it better than anyone else. This sister had held the coveted role of "one whom I'd most like to be" when I was growing up, and until adolescence (oh, the hormones! the drama!), I had idolized her (really, an unfair burden to her). We didn't grow up in the same town (she has a different mother), and so our times together were always exciting, special events. By the time I'd reached 13 (and she 21, just out of college & married), we'd begun to have terrible conflicts which inevitably led to my idol saying things like, "You're not my sister and I don't ever want to see you again." This would be okay, maybe, in a typical family where everyone would say their sorries and hug before the sun went down, but in our case, there would be no kissing or making up for 6-12 months; basically, my adult sibling disowned/abandoned me on several occasions, at times in my life when I really needed her. The trust was broken, and it has never been fully restored. After our last separation of a couple of years (during which she missed my wedding in 2001), we've seemed to be able to keep our relationship mostly civil (sometimes even warm!), but this is only accomplished by limited our time together (never more than 3 days per visit) and taking extra-ordinary measures to avoid topics sure to erupt in raised hackles (especially anything to do with politics -- we are polar opposites on that spectrum). I know that she loves me, but I accept that her understanding of what love is is just different from mine. Due to damages that were not her doing (again, too complicated to detail here), she'll never be able to step outside herself and see the world in someone else's shoes; she's always in a "me, me, me!" mode, something that was a necessary survival tool at one time in her life, but now only serves to alienate others and prevent her from getting (or seeing that she has) the acceptance that she craves.

Where does this leave me? Well, I am often lonely for the kind of mother-daughter relationship that it seems others have. No elder woman is in my life to offer guidance and support in that way, and I have to seek out bits & pieces where I can get it from non-family member women. This has been especially apparent since I've become a mother myself. I regret that my child won't have a maternal grandmother in his life, but he doesn't know what he's missing, so he's really okay (plus, his dad's side of the family more than compensates).