Grudges Part Two – Mom


I always thought my issues with mom started after my parents divorced, but when I really think about it, it was probably before that. She has an angry streak. One time when we were little, she was infuriated because the playroom was a mess. Any parent would have been upset I’m sure, but she took it to another level.  She started throwing toys — big ones, breakable ones. She didn’t care where she threw them. Eventually, a toddler-size rocking horse hit the wall, bounced off and smacked me in the head. I still have a nice dent as a reminder.

I also remember times when she would get frustrated with my dad even though he was trying to do something nice for her. Once, my dad surprised her with a trip to her favorite place, Niagara Falls, for her 40th birthday. Instead of being grateful, she angrily woke us up that morning, acting like it was the most inconvenient thing in the world that she had to get us up and packed for the trip. I know now that Joe was feeding my mom lies. Telling her my dad is not right for her and that he and mom would be a much better fit. I’m not putting it all on Joe, but I believe it was a big factor toward her decision to leave my dad.

After my parents split, things went downhill. The first house we lived in after the divorce was a town house. Mom thought it was a great idea to get a Rottweiler puppy even though we already had a dog, birds and at least two cats. But the real issue was, she was rarely around during this time. As kids, we didn’t know how to train a dog. We were too young. Later, that dog (Sinbad) tried to bite the mail man. It wasn’t the dog’s fault. After that, we found him a new home with people who could actually take care of him. You would think that would have taught her a lesson, but sure enough my mother decided it was a wonderful idea to bring home a white German shepherd… Princess. Don’t let the name deceive you. She was no princess. At the next house we moved to, us kids would compete with Princess for food.  Somehow she managed to open the fridge and would eat whatever she could find. To be fair, she probably didn’t have much food either. Because mom was never around at this point (it would be weeks in-between seeing her) it didn’t leave us much food. Our friend Sarah’s mom used to bring food to the house just to make sure we had something to eat. We also had no working bathroom — which did not lead to much self-confidence when I was in Junior High. When I was a freshman in High School, I would walk to my friend Steph’s house every morning before school so I could use the bathroom. She would feed me breakfast and, in the winter, have a nice glass of hot chocolate waiting to warm me up.

One time, Princess ran through our back room’s glass sliding door. It was crazy!!! But only recently I found out that dad came over after and saw that mom never fixed the door or cleaned up the glass, leaving shards of everywhere. When dad told mom she needed to clean it up and get the door fixed my mother told him that, “he cannot tell her what the fuck to do.” Finding this out surprised me even though it shouldn’t have. It was like she didn’t realize she was a mother with kids. As though we were just there when she felt like seeing us and we were interfering with her social life. It took my dad calling social services to finally get the door and glass fixed.

Even though it should not have taken that for my mother to fix the door, involving social services was the best thing that could have happened to me. I mentioned in another post about a time when my mother showed up to the house out of the blue and tried to get me to go to school. Well, she ended up literally dragging me there. She even called the principal to meet me outside. Thankfully, most teachers aren’t stupid, and they knew there was more going on. They sent me right to the guidance counselor’s office. Having the school and social services involved gave me the opportunity to live with my dad. It ended up being the best decision for me and my mom. If I had stayed there one of us probably would have killed the other. I am not one to keep my mouth shout, so when my mom behaved in a way I didn’t feel was right I would speak up. I would yell, but hey, I was a teenager, that’s what they do.

Once mom moved in with Joe, life got a little better. Still, she was barely a parent. We could do whatever we wanted. We drank with her and her friends, smoked with them, partied all the time. Most kids would love this, and don’t get me wrong, I did. Looking back though, I see that it wasn’t a healthy atmosphere. Every couple of months mom would try to discipline us or tell us we couldn’t do something. Nice try. You can’t let us do something one day and not the next. That’s not how it works.

Mom was an alcoholic. Her and Joe drank and smoked constantly. The fights they would have were terrifying to experience. They would beat each other up all the time. And yet, neither could walk away. It was torture. On numerous occasions I would have to try to pull one off the other or threaten to call the cops. Not something any child should have to worry about.

The thing that impacted me the most happened when I was opening my own checking account. Mom came with me and had them deliver my checkbooks to her house (red flag). Mother has never been good with money. She had so much credit card debt. My dad once told me he had to keep a secret account from her just so she wouldn’t blow through all their money. She ended up writing a bunch of checks in my name to businesses for bills and whatever else. Of course, all the checks bounced. This ruined my credit for a long time. To this day I won’t write a check unless I have to.

You think I would have learned after that not to trust her with money but somehow, I fall for it every time. When I was getting married, she offered to pay for my wedding dress. However, she couldn’t open a David’s Bridal credit card herself so I opened it under my name (Dan was so mad) and she said she would pay the bill (red flag). A few months later, David’s Bridal contacted me to tell me the bill was never paid. So, in the end I paid for it myself. I told her she could just pay me back, but I knew she never would. You want to believe that your parents are responsible and you can trust them but sometimes you can’t. It’s sad but it is what it is.

My mother is also a compulsive liar. As a kid especially, it was strange and unnerving. Mainly she would say that she was a cop. The first time I heard her say it she and I were yelling back and forth when she grabbed me and started twisting my arm behind my back and pushing me to the ground. It hurt like a bitch and I said so. All she kept saying was, “I was a cop. This doesn’t hurt you.” I was very confused. A couple years later, my grandma told me that mom was never a cop. She never even went to school to be one. But she still says so to this day. One time she shared that she was a cop in the city and met a pigeon lady in central park (sound a little familiar?). It’s scary to think about because it makes you wonder if that will happen to you one day. I truly think she believes lies she tells. Am I one day going to say I was in the Army or something like that? It’s a scary thought.

I know my mother must have experienced childhood trauma and that is part of why she behaves this way. Knowing this is also the reason I was able to move on from our own traumatic past. In her mind, I don’t know if she acknowledges half the shit she did. After Joe passed and mom moved to the mountains, I did see a change in her. She drinks less and makes an effort to come visit us. She still lies and believes things that are not true but its progress.

It took many years, but I eventually realized holding on to this grudge wasn’t helping me or her, especially since she thinks most of these memories didn’t happen. For my own mental health, I had to leave it all in the past and try to move on. Some days are harder than others. Because of these experiences, I struggle to be open with people about my past unless they were there when it happened, and I have pretty much zero confidence in myself. Therapy is a must for me, but I have been unable to find someone who takes my insurance and is accepting new patients. Hopefully, that will change soon.

 The biggest challenge now is trusting my mother to watch Autumn. I finally let her babysit for the first time this past week. It took me 15 months to let it happen. I was only gone two hours, but I was freaking out the whole time. Thankfully, it was fine. They seemed to have a great time together. What made me decide to let mom watch her is that she really does seem to be trying to be a good grandparent to Autumn. She comes to visit at least once a month and facetimes with her every Sunday. It seems like she is trying to make up for what she put us through. Maybe she remembers more then she lets on. She has hinted at apologies to us over the years but nothing concrete. I don’t need one though. In the end, she’s my mom and I will love her no matter what. But boy did she teach me a lot of things NOT to do when parenting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *