- Family and Parenting
My Mom Would Be Happier If I Was A Loser (Part 1)
Most people have the feeling that their parents are disappointed in them because they're not good enough.
I have the nagging feeling that my mom is disappointed that I'm not a loser.
This is not to say that my life is awesome. This is not to say that I am some kind of wunderkind that never makes any mistakes. With my life right now, I am not in a position to judge many people, save for maybe the most vile and terrible in our society.
Even with all my faults, I have a nagging feeling my mother wants it to be worse. She wants me to be worse, and she is willing to help me with my race to the bottom.
I often feel like it is only when I succumb to drug addiction and homelessness, utterly devoid of morals or personal hygiene, that she might - might! - feel like I have lived up to her expectations.
I'm not really sure what prompted this crusade.
My childhood was perfect. I had seemingly loving parents, grandparents who were happily involved with my upbringing, and I didn't want for anything. My mother worked outside the home, but my sitter and her family were so wonderful that I never noticed her absence.
That all changed when I turned 9. My mother decided we should move to Colorado; this had been her dream for many years and it was apparently time to fulfill that dream, right now and regardless of the consequences. We moved into a much smaller house, far away from my grandparents, friends and school, and soon after, my mother divorced my father. In a terrible twist of fate, my grandfather then fell ill with Alzheimer's, after which my grandmother was forced to sell the family farm and move into town, where she quickly fell back into the alcoholism she had worked so hard to overcome. A couple of long and painful years later, both my grandfather and my great aunt (my grandmother's beloved sister and constant companion), died within six months of each other.
My grandmother never fully recovered from the loss. From the many losses.
I was in a new state at a new school with new kids. I went to a new babysitter. It wasn't the same as before; the sitter watched a lot of kids and I was not the most beloved of the bunch. We were all like oil and water: We didn't fight or argue, but we also didn't "blend." This went on for a couple of years, and then I was old enough to stay at home on my own. And she left me home alone a lot.
You're probably going to justify her absence. She was, after all, a working mother. But she was a teacher, so she got off work the same time I got out of school. The only days she came home after school were the days she taught private music lessons at home; afterwards, she would retire, utterly exhausted, to her bedroom, where I would not see her for the rest of the night. On the afternoons and nights she didn't have to teach, she went out with her single and childless girlfriends.
Outside of school, I spent huge amounts of time alone. My poor father didn't have the strength to deal with her on top of his own issues, so I rarely saw him. My mother was either gone, commandeering the living room with private lessons, or lying in her bedroom, incapacitated from exhaustion or migraines, for most of my elementary and middle school days. I quickly grew accustomed to the solitude; an unfortunate side effect is that nowadays I have to spend time alone or I start losing my mind.
When I turned 12, I noticed her attitude toward me. It was the time of Satanic cults, teen pregnancy, crack, and the possibility of total planetary destruction by nuclear war. While kids my age worried about the total annihilation of our planet, parents worried about their kids getting hooked on drugs, getting pregnant out of wedlock, and generally turning into bad people. All while doing the absolute minimum of parenting, ignoring and isolating their offspring so they could "find themselves."
Of course, she assumed I was on drugs and drinking. In reality, I had a lot of time and opportunity to do both, but little inclination. My grandmother terrified me when she drank; when we visited her during the holidays, she would often drink too much and end up yelling at her reflection in the bathroom mirror.
I also had a vague terror of the control that I knew I would lose if I dared even take a sip of a wine cooler.
Alcohol smelled and tasted bad. I couldn't choke down enough to get the high, so was ambivalent about drinking. And although my mom had countless bottles of prescription drugs she never finished (she always claimed to be "allergic"), I was too clueless to even attempt to steal any medications from her stash.
Boys, on the other hand, were a real concern. Raging hormones and desperate loneliness are a bad combination. But that issue could have been quashed with her being home more. But she didn't want to be home more, so in dropped the vicious cycle. My friend and I roamed the mean streets of Aurora, Colorado, occasionally meeting men who wanted to toy with us. They weren't dangerous and we weren't stupid; most of these encounters ended up with us giggling uncontrollably on the sidewalk and the men gazing at us longingly, knowing what our parents could do if they found out. Every so often, though, one would come along that liked me too much to worry about the consequences (usually after I greatly exaggerated my age), and I always beat out my friend by being very, very sexually compliant.
But even in the throes of a savage attack of hormones, I always made them wear a condom. Because I did not want to be pregnant.
I vaguely noticed that my life was too good when my mother finally remarried a normal man (after having wed a violently abusive man, a man who chased her with a knife on the night of their wedding). I noticed that she did some things to him that she had always done to me. Things I didn't like.
She would make a big production out of going shopping, and make wild promises; we would invariably come home empty-handed. We would ask for some thing for Christmas; we would invariably never get this gift, but numerous other, unrelated items to take its place. Numerous items that would have cost several times the amount she would have paid for that one thing we wanted.
In disagreements, she utterly shut down. She would sit, arms and legs crossed, looking dejectedly down at the floor, until we realized that there was no winning and just gave up.
She saw that my stepfather and I had formed an alliance, and she didn't like it.
With the arrival of this new ally, the veil was lifting.
I began to understand that her attitude wasn't normal. It's not normal to have expectations of people, then sabotage them when they are approaching those standards. It's not normal to nag people into submission, then be disappointed when the nag-ee executes the task exactly as you demanded.
So I escaped. It took my grandmother dying to accomplish it, but I ran. I ran all the way to Russia. I had to suffer for a bit, but then every piece fell into place. I had a great job and great friends in a place I loved more than anything.
I got pregnant sooner than I hoped, but it was with a good and devoted man. Russia is no place for an expat to be crippled by constant morning sickness, so my husband and I returned to America.
And then the real mind games started.