When It’s Not About You

This is the sixth entry of “The Chip On My Shoulder Is A Boulder,” a series on the complex relationships between black women and their mothers. The series will run through this week. Previous entries include “The Adoptee,” “The Rebel,” “The Gypsy,” “She Did Her Best” and “The Reluctant Mother.”

Someone is supposed to be the adult and someone is supposed to be the child, but what happens when you become the mother of your mother? When she sees herself as your rival and not your parent? What happens when it’s all about her and never about you?

Many equate motherhood with selfless sacrifice. It’s usually the children who are accused of being ungrateful or users of a constantly relenting mother. But when your mother is demanding you for bailouts from her financial troubles and treats you more like a prized pet than a person, it’s easy to develop the mother of all mommy issues.

The Narcissist’s Daughter loves her mother and believes her mother loves her. But she also knows her mother loves herself most of all.


I feel for Rebecca Walker.

I truly don’t believe that my mom really wanted to have children. I also think she blamed me for her marriage and a host of other decisions she made because she had me, and later my brother. I think she is jealous of my degree and, in general, our relationship can be really strained. I think it took real courage for (Walker) to out her mother’s inadequacies. If I were to tell my mother all of hers and why I have so many mommy issues she would probably try to knock my head off.

My mother is the quintessential baby boomer. She reminds me of Hillary Clinton and the mother character on “Two and A Half Men” — entirely too narcissistic. Every thing, decision, mistake and triumph is about her. She even tries to dress like me and I am almost 25 years younger than her.

When I was pregnant with my first child and she wanted to give me a baby shower. I was under the impression that she wanted to give it in my town. Nope, she wanted to have it at her house so that her friends could attend.

My daughter’s godmother had already offered to do the baby shower so I explained to her that she had already offered to do it. She complained for two months because her friends wouldn’t want to drive a hour and a half away to attend my baby shower and how I was being awfully inconsiderate to her. I explained to her if they were not willing to drive they weren’t my friends anyway. She pouted and threw back handed comments about it for three months. My daughter was already born then.

With my second pregnancy, I was admitted into the hospital. She showed up at the hospital with her date. I did not know this man, and here I am in the hospital almost undressed, wearing one of those those God awful gowns. You probably get the picture. She promised me that she was going to spend a week with me after having the baby. I have had two babies and after they were born she spent a grand total of 4 days.

Seventy five percent of the time that she was there she spent it on the phone talking to her boyfriend.

My mother only wants to visit and interact with my brother and me when she isn’t seeing anyone. We don’t get phone calls or regular visits when she is in a relationship.

The stop by the hospital thing was to show off that she had family. I often times feel as if we are the toys she pulls off the shelf when she wants to play with us. She has been this way since my dad died, so I have tried to chalk this up as grief related, but when I look back at some of the crazy things she did when we were growing up, I begin to wonder.

Now don’t get me wrong, when I was growing up I can never remember a time when she didn’t have a hot meal on the table for us when we got home from school, and I am sure that she wanted us to be the best dressed, and my school accomplishments were things that she could brag about, so that was all good, and she attended all of the school functions. I can’t get angry about any of those things. But unfortunately for me she blamed me on several occasions, usually during arguments with my dad, her husband, that I was the only reason she was married to him, and if they hadn’t had me she wouldn’t be there. So I grew up feeling that I was the reason for her unhappiness.

To this day, she still expects me to bail her out of financial difficulties, drop everything when she calls (doesn’t matter that I have my own family to take care of), give her pep talks when she is down, etc. Sometimes I feel like the parent.

Now that I am older, I realize that momma was just a professional victim. She was too young to have me (22), and she didn’t have the tools to cope with her own personal issues. I understand that and I respect that, but I have developed my own psychosis because I want to be the kind of mom that is a champion for her daughters. I don’t want them to feel obligated to me. I want them to want to be around me, but not out of some guilt enforced sense of obligation.

I am sure I have other stories of her narcissism/selfishness, but I have probably suppressed them because some of them hurt quite a bit. So maybe narcissism is not the word maybe it is just plain selfish.

We currently have a good relationship — this month. But I keep my guard up with her because I don’t want my feelings hurt.

2 thoughts on “When It’s Not About You

  1. It is very unfortunate that children have to grow up in that type of environment. I’m sorry the author had to endure that, but I pray that she learned from her mom’s mistakes and do better with her own children. It sounds like she is!I also want to take this time to recognize how fortunate I was to be blessed with one of the best mothers in the world. She lost her mother (my grandmother) when she was only 12 years old and she was the oldest of 3 girls. I think because she was so wise, she waited until she was ready to have children. She was 30 when she had her first child, my brother. A few years later I was born and a few years after that my sister was born. She has always been there for us, nurturing, teaching, and supporting us. The thing that sticks out in my mind as one of the nicest things she has done in my life, was when my husband and I went on our honeymoon, my mom came and cleaned our apartment (I hadn’t had much time to unpack before the wedding) and STOCKED the refrigerator and pantry!! When we got home, we were so excited because we could just come home and relax instead of worrying about cleaning up and getting groceries!!!Yeah, I know my mom is the greatest! And I hope I can be even half as good to my children as she is to me and my siblings!

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