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Family problems: When a stranger walks in the door

Updated on May 23, 2014

I have always had a troubled relationship with my mother. You see, the problem was and is that we have tempers exactly alike, but our ideas couldn't be further apart. That can be a real problem. All I want, all I think is right, she doesn't. All I have done with my life, she wouldn't. From a few a years to this part, we decided to overlook our differences and focus on the things we can agree on, so basically we keep it very light and simple.

Don't get me wrong, I love my mother dearly and I think she is a strong, wonderful woman, after all she did raise two children alone, after my dad died, when I was just 6 years old and she was just 36 years old. She also did it, while having to learn how to make a living, because my father was quite the old fashioned man and believed in his heart, bless him, that he had to provide for his family and that a woman had no business in business. And that was all quite alright hadn't he just died on us, leaving one woman and two little women alone.

One month after he died my grandmother announced my mother she would better go off and sort her life, since she wasn't willing, nor able, to provide for the three of us. After yelling and crying for a while, that is exactly what she did and she never, ever since, had to borrow for anyone. If she had 20 she would spend only 20, never mind the 20 had to stretch and stretch. If she had 100, she would spend 30 and save the rest for a rainy day. And that was always my mother, a strong, yet teary woman, teaching me to work and save and never ever spend more than what I could, no matter how bad I wanted something, and loving me and caring for me, teaching me about respect and truth, and not understanding me at all, but nonetheless being there for me, as she was for my sister.

Think about it... what would you like to change in your family?

So, my mother was always the typical mother, loving, kind, clingy and overprotective. Besides the natural desire of mothers to protect her children, she also had an experience, which I think changed her: when I was three months old I got sick and was in coma for a while. So, that experience of almost losing me, enhanced her fears and naturally her desire to protect us. Finally, she was alone and she felt it was all on her, the responsability of raising us was solely on her, if we were healthy, if we learned properly, if we were respectful and honest. If we turned out fine, it was all on her, but if we didn't, it was also on her. So, that meant we had to behave, there was no room for mistakes, every slightest thing we did that wasn't exactly to her liking or wasn't according to her standards was like the sky would be falling on her head and ours and all hell would break loose.

I must admit that all that pressure and all that desire for us to be perfect ( which obviously, at least I wasn't), made me want to run, which I understand is not fair, at all, but it is something which I feel deeply, because I think it's impossible to live by those standards.

But all that is a subject for another article...

During all the years she was a widow - about 10 years - whenever anyone suggested she should get married again, she would reply she had her daughters to think of and there was no way she was getting married. Men tried to change her mind, but even dating was out of the question.

As my sister and I grew up, we started worrying, we didn't our mom to be left alone and we wanted to do our own things, go off, see the world, have our own place, but we felt guilty for that, because after all how could we do that, leaving our mother alone, after all those years, after all that sacrifice.

So, it seemed a blessing to us when, finally, after 10 years she found someone, whom she was willing to give a chance, after much talking into from us.

Carrying all that baggage in the door

Then, along came a stranger... which we knew only as a visit... walking in the door and carrying all his life's baggage with him... That baggage was heavy and didn't resemble anything with our own...

It's very difficult indeed putting two families together, two life stories, habits and it's quite the sensitive matter, one step in the wrong direction can ruin everything, as we will soon see. I'm not saying that there aren't success stories, but I think it's very hard to be a success story.

So... the baggage...

During our life we carry all the bits and pieces from our experiences, good and bad alike... Those bits and pieces change us... carrying all that baggage changes us...

This stranger, that is my stepfather, carried a lot of life, very different from ours, for the most part. That life made him look at the world in a different way than we did.

You see, when he was just 6 years old his mother died and little after that, at 8 years old - being a different time and world and having quite some problems with money - his father took him to work in construction alongside him. But then, again just a little while after that, it was his father who died.

My stepfather was sent to live with his godparents, which were, by all accounts, rich folks or at least quite well off, but that didn't stop them from getting him a job, so you could pay them for his spendings with food, clothes and so on...

So, you see how the definition of family could be a little distorted by then...

In time, he did have his own family, a wife and three children, but eventually and unfortunately the wife died and the relationship with his children was strange and detached and they each wanted to go their separate ways, do their things and don't look back much... Not like us at all.

I can't tell you if this distant relationship, this apparent lack of bond was on him, on the children or on them all... I could never figure that out, probably on all of them, but that wasn't too important, since when we all met they were grown ups and they never wanted to have much to do with us, actually it always seemed to me they weren't too happy with the marriage to start with, which always struck me as strange...

So, when my stepfather finally walked in our door he was carrying a whole lot of history that really didn't match ours.


Think about it... what is the most significant problem your family has?

Perhaps it was my mother's understanding we wanted to go off and start our own life... Perhaps it was thinking that all that work and suffering had been quite worthless, because otherwise why were we going away like that... Perhaps all that made her change... And she changed alright...

A lot of that change had to do with my stepfather, with his views of the world, that is, that family is not all that important, that children have their own lives and don't want parents around. That their life should just be about the two of them.

Instead of standing her ground, as she used to, that strong, determined, stubborn woman, she just accepted that...

So, once we were off living our lives, we noticed how my mother became ever more distant from us, no visits, no attempts to be with her grandchildren, to babysit or even to attend their birthdays... It's a bit like having a ghost for a mother... All those little things she was so good at, caring and loving and pampering us and her first granddaughter, making her clothes and embroidering until dawn to have beautiful bed linen for when the baby arrived with the new mom in the morning from the hospital... All that is gone...

It's not that she doesn't want us to visit her or feel the same... It's just she is not willing to do it herself... And I don't pity the whole situation because of me or my sister, since we are both grown ups and for the good or the bad, she is our mother, but it's more because of the children, because for them the neighbours are closer than their own grandmother and that's a bit sad... Obviously, the more they grow up and the more they understand, the more they drift away from her and the more she sees that and resents that, but still does nothing to change it... And although I have often tried, to no avail, explaining to her that this is a two way street, I've now given up and decide to ignore the whole situation.

So, there you have it, it's no drama, it's definitely not the end of the world, there is probably much of that going around in a lot of families, if not worst... It's just sad...

Think about it... Isn't it (90 % at least) just people being stubborn and inflexible?

Just a tale... something to learn... maybe...

There is so much we can take from this story, tale or whatever you want to call it... There are so many issues we can discuss... If it was up to a psychologist or a psychoanalyst we would all be having quite some sessions, all of us... I mean is there anyone really sane amidst all of this...

It doesn't really matter, if you ask me... There is no need for therapy... at least, not anymore...

But if you ask me further, what could be done, here is what I think:

- The baggage must match for the most part...

- Each person, in a relationship, although adapting to the other, should still stay true to who they are and what they believe and don't change to the point of losing themselves altogether...

- Each person should recognize what is important to the other and treasure it, because that is also treasuring that person that you love and want... If that doesn't happen, I wonder...

- We are not islands... we cannot live alone or just with one other person, at some point we will want to be with others... That is not saying that person isn't our world...

- If we want love, care and attention, we have to give love, care and attention... We cannot ask for it, if we don't give it back...

- Some things are lost forever... later on we realize we cannot get them back... By then it's too late... Think well on what you are giving up and if that is alright...

- Finally, we are all a bit selfish and that is alright, it's our nature... but we should look well at our selfishness and make sure we are not taking it a bit too far...

It's just life... But here is the thing... We can do whatever we want with life, it's ours...


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© Copyright Aug 02 2012 / To use part or the whole article you must first get written permission from the author. Feel free, nonetheless, to use an intro of the hub with a link to the article here on hubpages for the rest of the article.

© 2012 Joana e Bruno


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    • profile image

      Mohd 3 years ago

      Beryl , what an Beryl , what an amazing reicpe, I followed your directions to the T and it was amazing my wife and 2 children 3 & 5 yrs old all ate it up. AMAZING , That night the kids slept wit my wife & I because they do that some nights and all 4 of us were in our king size bed and Laughing because those beans gave us some wonderful anal artillary. I will check out some of your other video's as wellBlessings and Grace,Warren Tibbs , KC Missouri

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, Ruchi, I totally agree with you... and I do hope that this story may help some other family, other mother, other daughter - I don't know - to realize what is important... and maintaining out identity, always, is one of the most important things we must keep in mind... Thanks for reading and commenting! Have a great day and take care!

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Tammy, it's quite amazing how people lose such precious moments, lose the possibility to be a part of our little persons' lives... The point is that I don't think they quite understand what they are losing, it's very sad and you are right we can but teach our children differently. I'm glad you liked the hub and thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, Jujanester... I know what you mean, mine was broken too, in a different way, but still... Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting! All the best!

    • Ruchi Urvashi profile image

      Ruchi Urvashi 5 years ago from Singapore

      I read this story with great interest. Our stories are so unique and provide some lessons that we can take and apply in our lives. I believe that when we marry, we need not lose our identity or family members, interests, people. We can continue with our old selves as well as enjoy the happiness of new relationship. For some women, they have low self esteem and hence, they tend to be so flexible that they lose their own identity and try to please their partner. I think balance is key. We need to be flexible but at the same time, learn how to enjoy our own hobbies and maintain our identity.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub algarview. I can definatley relate to your story. My own children didn't have grandparents that wanted to do any thing at all with them also. It is very sad. All we can do is teach our own children differently.

    • jujanester profile image

      jujanester 5 years ago from Philippines

      nice hubs, can relate a little,, but Im a product of broken family.....nice...