Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mommy Dearest

My mother and I have a strained relationship at best. She raised us with an iron fist, rice and beans and a little thing called “fear” (as was she). I’d like to think we had a good relationship once upon a childhood, but I don’t remember. I can pull up snippets of fun here and there, but nothing steady.

Things only worsened after dad surprised her with divorce papers moments before the clock struck midnight New Year’s Eve 2000. That broke her. And like a sponge I soaked it all in – the crying, the anger, the pain. Whenever she’d call me at school, I’d bear through the hysterics until I felt just as inconsolable as she did. We’d do this everyday. I thought this experience was at least bringing us closer since she kept running to me with her tears and frustrations, but in the long run it only distanced us further.

It took three years before I inevitably shut down. All my emotions were gone. I didn’t care whether I was nice or mean; I just was. Days would go by without speaking a word to my family and I’d shut myself off from the rest of the world. If I could have dug a hole, I would’ve nonchalantly crawled inside it. I was exhausted from feeling so much and if I had to become empty inside to not hurt anymore then so be it.

I’ve only started to open my heart again two years ago and the process has been long and slow.

Still, it's been hard having your mother right next to you, yet as much as you’d like to you just can’t reach out. There have been many times when I wanted her to hug me, to stroke my head, to tell me things will be ok. That no matter what happens I will always have her. But she and I don’t have that bond that I’ve always envied in other families. Families where children share their events of the day, their hopes, their dreams, failures and successes.

I wanted my mom when I was eager to share the ups and downs of my first relationship. I needed her when I cried for days on end when that relationship ended. Yes, I had close friends, a caring sister and a father who too often tries to overcompensate on the parental guidance, but sometimes a girl just needs her mom.

Yesterday, I was feeling really blue and had another crying fit. For some reason I decided to call her and in turn she surprised me by coming to my apartment by herself for the first time since I moved out four months ago. (I live a 15-minute bus ride away and she’s visited only four times).

After she dispensed her usual “comfort” – in the form of sweeping, dish washing, and cooking – (mind you I’m crying on the couch and the first thing she reaches for is a broom), came what I really needed. She pulled me close, put my head on her lap and let me know that things will get better. She ran her hands through my hair and in between moments of calm and never-ending sadness I listened to stories she’s shared about a million times yet never seem to grow old.

It lasted about an hour, but it felt like forever. I ended up going home with her for the night where we spent the rest of the day with the house to ourselves, curled up on the couch watching TV with my head on her lap. I know it’s only a matter of time before it all reverts and she lets anger get the best of her.

But at least I got my mom for a day. And hopefully for a while after that.

So, I'd love to know: how are your relationships with your mothers?


  1. Aaahh, moms. :) They're tough, aren't they? It sounds like your parents divorced when you were 17 or 18...? I was nearly 17 myself when my parents did as well. It's tough, and if you never had the cuddly relationship with your mom before, it certainly doesn't get too cuddly afterward. Moms are emotional and I think it's hard for them to be supportive for the children when the're being emotional for themselves. At least SOME moms. I'm with you - not a cuddly relationship, and I envied my friends that had such open and fun conversations with their moms.

    Just remember it DOES get better as you get older. You have to give moms some slack....and learn that if you've been a strong child, they see you as a support system as well, I think. At least mine does....and I've learned to cherish the role because it gives us opportunities to talk about personal things that wouldn't have come up if our relationship never altered in that direction.

    One of the toughest parts of being an adult is recognizing and forgiving the mistakes we notice from our parents. They're human and they deserve our understanding as we mature enough and experience enough to relate to the things they've gone through. The next time she has anger, try and relate to her, and see if you can help HER break through and work out some kinks in her heart.

  2. Tooj, oh yeah they can be tough as hell and sometimes even more so if you're the first-born daughter! You're practically the guinea pig and it's been an uphill battle trying to get her to let go.

    Parents divorced when I was 18/freshman in college so I had to add that to the adjustment of being away from home for the first time. I think it was hard because you look to your parents for support and guidance, but where do you turn when they're crumbling to pieces themselves?? Not like I could talk to her about how I felt about the divorce; she was too busy dealing with her own emotions instead.

    I've tried to forgive her, but sometimes I still get too mad for how she raised us. I mean why would you ever be that tough with your own kids? But I have to remember that she had a super tough childhood with a strict mother and 11 siblings. It's just harder for some people to break that cycle and I only hope I do before I have children of my own.

    Torrance, thanks so much for the compliment! And yes, I know moms are all that, but sometimes they could use some improvement, as we all can :)

  3. your mom seems cool,
    me and my mome have a very sour sweet relationship, mostly sour from my side cuz I build walls between me and my parents, I like it that way.

  4. Tough love schooling. :) My parents are from it as well....once you DO have kids, you really learn to appreciate the things from our parents' ways. I think there are far too many people having children today with the mindset "my parents were so tough on me, too strict, not loving enough" that they fail to see one very important thing: they turned out GOOD. DECENT. CARING. EMPATHETIC. So my question is this: If you're able to care, and see the world in a positive light...your parents instilled SOME of that in you, no? :) Oftentimes as a parent, you get the bad rap of disciplinarian....but what that word really means isn't punishment. It's to teach, to instruct, to give lesson. So keep in mind that if you like how you're turning out...they secretly injected some of those things in you, or at the very least, the ability to HAVE those good feelings and convictions.

    Just as before, you take the good things from this relationship and use it going forward...when you have children. It's a beautiful thing, the things you come to be appreciative of.

    P.S. I'm the oldest daughter myself...I UNDERstand. LOL

  5. Have you ever read the book Languages of Love? You should! Because it's so beautiful and just sounds like this situation might apply :)

    Also, thanks for commenting on my blog! I always visit those who visit me, so come back anytime..water's fine :)

  6. how come you didnt acknowledge your siblings in those pictures?!and im sorry to hear you had another episode, but im glad mami went. im so proud of her!

    ps. a puesto k dormiste en mi cama!! i hope you sterilized it, im uber sick!

  7. me and my mother do not have a mother daughter relationship...its more like were sisters...(and i don't mean this in a good way) the competition, silent treatments, snapping at each other, calling each other when we find some hot item in the store, getting mad at each other for buying something for ourselves and not for the other....sometimes she tries too much to be like a sister and i'm like MOTHER (yes i call her mother at times..just like she calls me ES-TE-FA-NY when shes mad) back i don't like all that gushy stuff from my mother so im usually like maaaa stop or look at her all weird when shes like "take me out with you and your friends" ... ohh and lets not forget the plenty times she tries to have a conversation of me and the ex or bashing his new girl like shes my best like ill tell her anything about that...ive learned like im sure u have also ... that u say one thing to a Ramos' mom and i don't mean the new moms im talking about the generation b4 us....u say on thing to a Ramos' mom and within an hour all the Ramos' aunts know it...and then its just the talk of the fam lol...omg when i first got my period...every aunt from all corners of the world were calling in like "i heard your a women now"...ok so my final conclusion moms come in all shapes and sizes and we will have ups and downs with them but in the end we love them...and when do something wrong we get hit with that guilt trip cus you know the instilled that in us too along with the fear...and another personal Ramos' family conclusion...our mothers should not be allowed to own phones would solve a hell of a lot of problems

  8. franco- eh, my mom is cool sometimes I guess, lol. and I totally understand the walls between parents and ourselves. Sometimes when she does try to hug or kiss me I'm like "Ew! What are you doing, get away!" That act of her showing me affection is so foreign to me that it weirds me out sometimes. Oh, plus I'm not the most affectionate person around.

    tooj- hello fellow child guinea pig! nice to see you've survived the ordeal with your sanity intact ;)

    and yes, I'll give my parents that. Despite all our problems and family craziness, my sibs and I turned out pretty decent (well the bro could use some major help, but my sis and i? oh we're simply marvelous!) so we owe them that. We're good, compassionate, intelligent people so I should start focusing on what they got right instead of where they went wrong more often :)

    colby- hi and welcome!! i haven't read that book, but i'll def add it to my list of books to request from the library (i'm a cheap geek like that). and in turn, have you ever read The Mastery of Love by Miguel Ruiz? He also wrote The Four Agreements (which I wrote about so feel free to search through the Books archives). I LOVED Mastery of Love and it gives such good perspectives on the way we act in relationships and why. Check it out sometime :)

    dama- wattup sis! How's the mini vacay treating you? And I didn't include you foolios because this was about ME and MY MOM, got it? Thanks.

    And yes, I was so proud of her too!! (Is that sad that we celebrate when mother decides to pay her child a visit? Oh well, baby steps...) I didn't even ask her to come or anything! Aaaand I JUST got of the phone with her after talking for two hours. No crying, yelling, name-calling or hanging up in frustration was involved. Oh happy day...oh happy daaaay...

    And yes, I slept on your bed with clean sheets. Hope your germs didn't get me.

    dariany/ "es-te-fa-ny"- hahaha, I know you don't want to hear this because I hate it when people tell me this about my mom, but...I love your mom, she's the bestest! She's so easy to talk to (which probably gets on your nerves because she prob always wants to talk) and so...I guess relatable? Like she doesn't act like some stiff adult so i can open up to her. I know when I was having all that trouble during our family reunion in DR, she was the one who pulled me aside, took me for a walk and calmed me down. And I'll always remember that she was concerned about me and understood what I was going through with mom.

    btw, your comment made me bust a laugh! "Take me out with you and your friends"...awww!

  9. Wow, I realized everyone has different type of relationship with their mother...

    My relationship with my mom is really close and tight. I can honestly say that I wouldn't survived many things without her support and love. I tell her everything and she has been there for me no matter what. She is my best friend.

    I hope that your relationship with your mother will grow stronger and closer than ever....

    PS - so sorry about misspelling your name!!!

  10. Thank you for your honesty dear...
    what a touching post. It's time to heal now, the scar might always be there, but healing it will be... Use the 'F' word... Forgiveness that is! May both of you move fwd & leave the past behind... the future can always be better, it's the choice each one of us must choose... Choice to forgive & receive the blessing of peace & joy. Take care sweetie!

  11. maki, I'm so happy to hear you have such a great relationship with your mom. Isn't it great knowing you can turn to her for comfort and guidance? I'm hoping my relationship with mine will one day resemble the one you share with yours :)

    And no worries about the name )I get it All The Time! Btw, where'd the post go? It disappeared!

    lenore, thanks so much for reading all that, I know it was quite long. Great prescription for healing my scar...I'll totally drop the F bomb on her ;)

  12. hi dorkys. boy, what a difficult situation you had. but here's a few things i hope will help you and your mom (i'm OLD! i get to say this stuff!). first, it's never too late for her to wise up and make your relationship better, but she's got work to do. second, you have work to do too. you're young but old enough now to put your hurts aside and never look back at them. be strong and show you're mom what you're made of. but only from a place of love and acceptance. i'm a mom of a daughter 21 who's angry at me for leaving her abusive dad. we're trying to reconcile but my daughter is a cussing hardcase. please think 2x before disrespecting your mom. nobody deserves that...

  13. Aw, I'm really sorry to hear your relationship with your mom is kind of broken. I hope one day, down the road, you two will both be able to heal together and have a better relationship. :)

    My relationship with my mother is pretty good considered we're are two very very different people, with very different minds and personalities. We do fight a good bit, but I know she'll always love me.

    My dad on the other hand... that's my relationship that's really broken.

    Thanks for sharing your story, though sometimes it's hard to be so open, I think a good bit of people can relate to this.


  14. Lisa- thanks for your wise words! we both have work to do I know, and I really want to do my part to fix whatever needs to be fixed. Although I don't outright disrespect her (because apparently there's a special place in Hell for children who do) I know my attitude and actions hurt her as well.

    Susanna- Hahaha, we each left a comment on each other's page at the same time :)

    Yeah, I was a bit iffy on what people think or if they'd even care, but it's been so nice to hear about everyone's different relationships with their own mothers. I love reading everyone's comments, thanks so much!

  15. Moms can be tough sometimes, because they're people and no one is perfect.

    But at the end of the day they love you and you can be a million miles away and you know they are thinking of you. And all you can hope is that you learn from their mistakes so you don't make them with your own children.

    And even if they don't say it as often as you would like, you know that you are loved.

  16. I guess motherhood is one of things you learn on the job, huh. Just jump in there and hope for the best. Also, mothers love you more if you say you're coming over to do laundry I just did.

  17. Wow--I just linked to this post in my recent post (I hope I did it right!). I have had a very tumultuous relationship with my mom, too. Thanks for speaking truth to the Mother Power.

  18. Well now. I'm a Mom and you have me checking myself here. Wish my Mom was still alive, bad moods and all. I do know what you mean about tough Moms though, mine was too and if she hadn't of been I probably wouldn't have had her as long as I did. Pray and Love through it girlie.

  19. merc3069- thanks so much for linking to this post, I'm happy to hear you liked it. And I loved your post about doing your best as a mom. Your little girl is such a cutie petutie :)

    Darla- I'm sure you're doing a wonderful job with your children (but I'm only basing that on the lovely family pictures you post). And that's a diff take too: maybe some people become tough because it's the only way they know how to cope with a given situation. Thanks so much Darla. You sure know how to make a garden grow :)

  20. beautiful, honest writing. thank you for this. it made me miss my mom, haven't since her since december.

    hope you feel better soon. sending warm thoughts your way.

  21. Mira I'm over here at the library all teary eyed w/ Javi on my lap. That puts a smile on my face cuz I know whats been going on. Sometimes I take being able to talk to my mom about stuff for granted, until I read this. You can't blame your mom though cuz its not her fault she was raised the way she was. You see how you are often insecure? Well where do you think you get it from. My mom has that side to her too, son bien timida y no disen como se sienten. I think our grandmother had so much going on wit trying to feed 11 children, that she forgot to find time to give all her girls and boys that special love they now don't know how to pass on.... so when you are ready to blame, dont forget where the roots started... Maybe you need to make your mom feel loved at times too and let her know it will be ok. We have opportunities they never in a million years will get to do or see and guess how we are able to see these things... because of our moms.... so the least we can do is shower them with love... you get me ;) But that makes me so happy she is trying to come through, it will take time.

  22. Just read Darianys comment.... I just realized that the Ramos mothers live through us.... they r not to blame, buela is not to blame, our great buela is not to blame.... and it goes on and on mis primas

  23. Odessa- I think I set off a "Big Daddy" moment when everyone in the courtroom had to call up their dad, lol. Thanks so much for your kind words and I hope you gave your mom a call ;)

    Anonymous- Hey cousin, I'm sorry I made you teary-eyed around the little guy! And yeah, as family you def know how it can get. Why is there always drama going on in our family? It's funny that us cousins have never really fought even though our parents don't speak to each other. I love each of you and I know that we don't express it enough (at least I don't).

    This weekend was a step in the right direction. I spent a night and a day there, then we spoke on the phone for hours at night and then I went back again yesterday and I'm passing by tonight. I really missed being around her and just talking to her/goofing around. Maybe I can show her that it's ok to not fight so much. I know each of them had an extremely rough childhood- rougher than any of us will ever experience and that's thanks to them. Thank you for reminding me of that. I guess becoming a mom now has spilling wise words, huh?

  24. wow. This was so raw and honest. Thank you for posting this.

    My mother and I have a strained relationship as well. I always thought it would get easier as I've gotten older, but it's likely gotten harder.
    But, like you, I have hope.

  25. Ooh, here's a topic I've avoided on my blog so far (hiding behind the fact that it's mostly about my kids). My parents got divorced when I was 9 and my mom had two surgeries for breast cancer when I was growing up. Over 20 years later, she continues to play the victim. Yes, she was hurt very badly by my dad (more by the marriage than the divorce), but her bitterness is toxic. As an adult, I've distanced myself and focused on raising my own family. Her health is okay (no thanks to her--w/a pack of smokes and a few beers daily) and she lives alone, but I'm already the parent in the relationship. She adores her grandkids and they adore her, but I intend to shelter them from her icky side. I love her. She has mental health issues and refuses to get help. She's been a bad role model. I know for my own sanity I can't try to fix it anymore.

    Ahh, felt good to get that out. Glad you had at least one close day with your mom, and hope there were and will be more to follow.

  26. Mom Dukes- We are still learning how to transition from the mother child relationship, to the mother - adult child. Hard times, but in the end she's all I got and I'm all she's got. Nothing else matters.


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