Fly on the wall anonymous post: What I'm afraid to tell you

(This is the first in (what I hope will be) a series of anonymous posts from readers, called Fly on the Wall. These posts are the things you wish you could share with your universe, but for whatever reason can't.

I want everyone in the world to have a place to share (I am a trained counselor, after all). I think it's crucial to mental health and happiness, I really do. Not putting into words the feelings you bear is paramount to letting a sore fester: expunge it, share it, shed light on it, chew it, work it out. Even anonymously and in confidence, the power of moving something from just you and your thoughts into the real world can be felt.

Please show your support for this author's bravery and story. And thank you, author, for your efforts.)

What I'm afraid to tell you

I heard a lot when I was pregnant from women who suddenly understood their mothers so much better after their own children arrived. "Oh, now that I've done it I totally understand how much my Mom loves me." and, "We're closer than ever, it has deepened our relationship." I was suspicious, afraid to believe it, but deep down secretly hopeful that maybe we would finally understand one another.

My mother and I have a rocky relationship. She was an excellent provider to a very small person. My childhood is full of good memories and laughter. However as I approached adulthood it became abundantly clear that our path, as adults, would be quite different. Our personalities are incompatible with friendship. Our values somehow misaligned. Add on to that a history of teenage conflict and... it was over.

There are things that can be said between a mother and daughter that you can never take back and never forgive. Those things have been said out loud. There is no going back for me.

I soldier on, faking through the steps that mothers and daughters are supposed to do- the weekend visits, the phone calls.

When I finally had children I hoped for some kind of revelation, some kind of magical connection that would appear between us. Instead I feel further apart from her than ever before. I force myself to give in to those occasional visits but I dread them more every time. I find my head thinking, "Ok, a child's relationship with their grandparent is special, something to treasure. Just suck it up and let them figure out their own path. It's good for kid to experience different ways of doing things."

Meanwhile my heart is screaming, "NO NO NO MINE MINE MINE."

Clinically I try to separate my relationship with her from what my child's will be. Emotionally I am at war. I wrestle with my desire to pick them up and keep them away from her. A primal instinct in me screams over and over to claim my child as MINE, not HERS. But there isn't any harm waiting- just a loving grandma. I'm not sure what I'm trying to protect them from. All old scars and battles stand in relief every time I am with her and throw me right back into the past. My emotions rage completely outside my control.

I don't think our mother/daughter relationship is salvageable and frankly I'm not interested in "working on it." I can appreciate the excellent job she did getting me this far but every time we're together I just want to escape. My adrenaline goes through the roof; every action grates on my nerves. It's too much, too long. I promise myself over and over, "I'm going to be a different mother. I'm going to do things differently. I'm not destined to repeat her mistakes."

Unfortunately I have no issues sharing my child with anyone else. Only her. I'm happy to share with anyone else and don't feel these same crazy urges. It intensifies the awkwardness of it all. What kind of mother doesn't want their kids to spend time with their grandmother?

And each time after she's gone I lay awake into the night wondering if I'm some kind of monster. And if the people around me knew would they think the same thing?


  1. I will say that I honestly cannot relate, because I have such a close relationship with my mother...but I definitely applaud you for putting these honest thoughts out there. I think you will make a lot of people think.

  2. You're not a monster, not by any means. You are feeling the urge to protect your child, and that urge stems from your own experiences, your own need to protect yourself too. That does not a monster make. When your kid gets old enough to make his own choices, it might get easier to let him go to his g-rents', or just spend time with them, but as he's so young, it's your responsibility to protect him when you feel you need to. It's instinct. Don't feel bad for instinct.

  3. I'm torn on this one b/c in some ways I am closer to my mom but in other ways I'm not. Times have changed and studies have been done on what's best for babies. Don't get me wrong...I don't listen to every piddly thing that's out there but when she fed my then 2 week old rice cereal I was not particularly happy with her. She once told me that she loves him more than I will ever know. Ummm...I'm his MOTHER. She tends to say and do things that I don't agree with but now that I'm pregnant with our second wee one I wonder if I won't let some things roll off b/c it's all about choosing our battles. My mom has always been there for me no matter what (which I hope to do for our children as well) and I'm eternally grateful for that but she definitely has her quirks.
    So becoming a mom has brought us closer in some ways but in other ways not so much.

  4. I don't have a great relationship with my mom but it isn't "bad" either. But I can relate to those feelings around having my babies around her. When my first was born she called my daughter *her* daughter/baby and it drove me crazy. She doesn't do it anymore, but now she also doesn't visit my girls or have us over much either. She lives an hour away and would rather spend time with her friends and on her bike than with her grandkids.

  5. You know- My mum used to refer to Dylan (my son) as "hers"...and it incensed me to no end. She made my baby shower not about me having a baby, but about her becoming a grandmother. My whole life I've had to deal with this.

    I think that we've been trained to believe that we MUST love our family members because they are our family members- but I think setting ourselves free from that brings a lot of peace of mind.

  6. I'm sorry to hear that your relationship with your own mother is so far gone. :( I think all you can do is to make sure you keep your relationship with your own son full of honesty and communication and dialogue so that he doesn't ever feel that way about you. Respecting other's opinions and beliefs is so important, and I think too often parents discount their children's feelings, simply because they are young. The problems in this world were never caused from too much love...

  7. I can totally relate to this, my mom and I have gone years without speaking to each other. Actually, strike that, I WENT years without speaking to her...

    The best part about being a grown up though, is being in total control of your life and the family YOU have built. You are not a monster, you are a normal Mama, protecting her baby at all costs. There is nothing on this Earth I wouldn't do for mine. Just stay on your toes, and if ever looks sketch - YOU ARE THE MAMA now, and if you want to bail, then bail you can.

    Wonderfully written man, life isn't always rainbows and unicorns. Mommies aren't always Carol Brady.

  8. I did not have any big epiphany, or find greater understanding with my mother, when I had children. In some ways, in fact, it was the opposite. I have less understanding, now that I am wearing the mama shoes myself.

    I can relate to a lot of what you're experiencing. You are not alone in this, not by a long shot.

  9. I think it's perfectly normal for you to feel this way. There are things about the past that you want to protect your child from. It's natural. One thing I have noticed though is that most grandparents treat their grandchildren completely different...except my grandmother kidnapped me once so I don't really know what I'm saying. However, that's the exception. Go with your gut. It sounds like you're thinking not only about your own needs but your child's and that is what makes you a good parent. xo

  10. I feel the same way about my MIL. My hubby never had a close relationship with her and we never really saw her before the kids. I can honestly say my kids will never be alone with her and I have no problem with it. They are my kids and I decide who influences them.

  11. You don't really say what issues led to the break in your relationship or what she's doing as a grandmother that you find objectionable, but let's assume it's not because she wouldn't give you a new BMW when you were 16 but now wants to buy one for your toddler. (sorry making dry jokes is my way)
    You are the one making the decisions as your own woman and as a parent, so if you decide to be busy everyday except holidays that is your prerogative. (even if your reasons include the aforementioned Beemer) You seem to want her in your life in some aspect, is there really no conversation that could at least make you not want to run screaming from the house with your child tucked under your arm? Some thing to be hashed out so you can sit comfortably in her presence with your child? You don't have to strive to be besties. If there really is not, then perhaps you should go with your gut. I may be full well talking out the side of my head, but what ever you do - it is your decision and your right to make it. If you're going to carry around the burden of the relationship with her then I hope you can at least find a way to let go of the guilt over it.

  12. This post really resonated with me, as I've had all these feelings towards my own mother too. My eldest is now nearly 4 years old and finally I've found that some of the walls are crumbling down between my mother and I. I think this is simply because I'm really determined that she will be an active part of my children's lives. It's hard but we are getting there and it feels so much better. I hope that you can get to this point too, life is short. A series of small steps is all it takes.....

  13. I've always had a rocky relationship with my mother, and it has gotten worse since having children. I look at my children and love them sooooo much and will do anything for them, protect them, do whatever it takes to make sure they know they are loved. I think in my heart, "My mother must never have felt this way about me" because I never felt it from her. These feelings make me feel even more distance from my mother. I think becoming a mother makes or breaks your relationship with your own mother in many many ways.

  14. I hear you. Sometimes becoming a mother makes you grieve what you wish you had. I console myself by trying to be the mom I wish I had.

  15. I can now understand the quirks of mothers as one myself but I still am not close with my family....I wish truly but nothing in common and frankly if our island wasnt so small,I would have loved the long distance excuse

  16. i have that want to escape feeling w/ my mother too...and despite all she has been through w/health issues this year, i don't have a strong connection with her, and doubt i ever will.

    having a child only made me want to move 5 states away.

    i like what you say about being grateful for your mother getting you this far. sometimes that really is enough.