Mother’s Day Wishes

I used to hate Mother’s Day. It’s not like they make a card that’s appropriate for neglectful drunks. But ever since my broken mother ceased to be a part of my life, I’ve found joy in this day. It was as though in all the tension and stress of trying to make sure SHE was happy on that day, I forgot that it was supposed to be MY day too.

She spent nearly 60 years trying to please her mother before that wretched woman finally did the world a favour and dropped dead at the tender age of 96. I spent nearly 40 years trying to please mine before I finally realized I’d have more luck trying to turn water into wine, and it would be a more useful skill.

Since I closed ranks around my nuclear family, and did away with the pain and stress of trying to maintain relationships with fundamentally broken people. It was a clean break, the entire maternal side of my family gone in one fell swoop. You know what? I regret nothing!

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to sleep in. I’m going to spend the day cuddling my babies. The Husband is cooking me my favourite meal. Mother’s Day used to be fraught with dread and panic, and now it’s a thing of beauty. If you’ve ever asked yourself if you life would be better without the stinging bite of a mother who can’t love, it will be!

You get two chances to have a strong mother/child bond, first with your own mother, and then with your children. I’m enjoying my second kick at the can immensely!

Quoting Wisdom

I belong to an online group that helps people cope with difficult family relationships. One member has had the experience I will face some day – the death of the estranged parent. She wrote an open letter to her now dead mother, and it was a thing of beauty. In fact, I’m stealing it.

I’m not going to link to the original because I’m not sure how she’d feel about that, but I am going to yoink it, almost word for word, as a template to keep for my own broken mother. I may never send it, but it perfectly articulates the damage that reckless, irresponsible people do under the guise of “doing the best that I can.”

You’re dead to me, and nothing will change that. You blew all your chances. You made the wrong choice. Time and again you chose addicts and alcoholics over being a mother.

You lived a careless life. You were careless with yourself, and through your reckless choices you were careless with me. Then you were careless with my children. My heart, my happiness, and my future were your responsibility until I reached adulthood. You failed me time and time again.

You did nothing with malice. You never intended to cause harm. But that’s because you lived without thought. You never considered consequences. Never thought about the effects of your choices. You lived without intention, just coasting from one mess to the next without concern for the damage you left in your wake.

Your inability to care about anyone but yourself has left scars on my soul that will never completely heal. But, I’m not broken. Scarred, damaged and wounded…but not broken.

I’m not like you. I’m strong. You, without intent, without thought, tried to destroy me, tried to make me like you. But, I’m not like you. I’m not empty inside. I’m not more concerned with the appearance of respectability than with actual character.

I still have wounds that need to be purged so I can finally heal. But, my kids have no wounds. I’m not perfect. I’m not raising perfect kids. But, damn it, I’m better than you. My kids are safe, they know they’re loved. They have confidence in themselves and trust in their parents. They are strong.

The legacy of shame and pain and corruption ends now. I can’t save anyone else. I can only save myself. Through saving myself, I keep my kids safe from you and and your ilk.

You can no longer hurt me. I’m free.

On Being a Mother

I have two children of my own. When my daughter was very small, it became clear to me that having an incredibly fucked up mother was a significant obstacle to being a good parent. It was a very difficult realization to come to, but it was also very necessary.

When it became clear to me that I wasn’t equipped to be a good mother because I had only shitty examples to look to for guidance, I got help. I did the work that needed to be done, in formal therapy sessions and on my own, to make sure I was up to the task.

These babies of mine bring me SO MUCH JOY! Not because I’m broken and need them to fill my giant pit of need, but because I am growing two really awesome little people. Watching them become their own people, giving them direction along the way, it’s just wonderful. Truly amazing.

It’s also clear to me that my mother derived no joy whatsoever from parenting. She resented the shit out of every single parenting obligation that she was forced to deal with. I have vivid memories of telling her I was hungry as a very young child, and her telling me to go get an apple.

Yes, you lazy cunt, I should go get an apple. Because obviously the expectation that you stop feeling sorry for yourself long enough to get off your ass and prepare a meal FOR YOUR YOUNG, HUNGRY CHILD is just totally unreasonable. In case anyone is wondering, I ate A LOT of apples as a child.

You know what? That sucks for her. I was a great kid. Funny, witty, warm, loving and intelligent. My daughter is a lot like me. She is so much fun. A simply adore spending time with her. Talking to her. Hugging her. Holding her. Making sure she knows she is a valuable person who deserves to be heard. Oh, and to be properly fed 3 squares a day PLUS SNACKS!

The problem wasn’t me. It was never me. Instead of finding the joy and deciding that joy was worth fighting for, my broken mother chose to sit in a puddle of shit and wonder why nobody wanted to sit beside her. Being a mother is awesome. There are hard days, sure, but who the fuck ever said life was easy? Not seeing the beauty in the gifts that are our children is a very sad choice to make – but make no mistake. It is a CHOICE! And a very poor one indeed.

Changing the Future

Yesterday DD said something that annoyed me, and I reacted by saying things that made her feel bad for expressing her opinion to her mother. I made a 6-year-old feel bad for saying something, anything, to her mother.

Sweet Jesus! Another landmine of growing up with a shitty mother reared its ugly head.

I thought about as I went to bed last night, and it kept me awake until I came up with a plan to do something about it.

This morning I had a private moment with DD. I recapped what happened and I told her what I did was wrong. I told her what I should have done instead, and I apologized. Then I held her and I told her that she should never, ever stop expressing her feelings. That she is NOT responsible for how I feel, that’s my job.

And do you know how I came up with that plan? As I was awake in my bed, feeling bad about what happened and how I handled it, I thought about what I would have liked my own mother to do. Even a small child understands that people aren’t perfect, that we all make mistakes sometimes.

The difference between being a child and an adult is that an adult is supposed to be capable of the introspection and wisdom to know when they have done wrong and to take steps to make up for their actions when they do.

I’m not saying I’m a perfect parent. I fuck things up all the time. BUT, I do know that my precious little babies are people, and they deserve to have their feelings valued and protected. I don’t use my experience of having a shitty mother as an excuse for being one myself.

This life has all kinds of ups and downs. It’s my job to teach my children how to handle difficult emotional situations, to admit mistakes, and to make amends for those human failings. It was her job too. Once again, having my own children has shown me yet another way my broken mother failed me. I hope these life lessons are over with soon.

Running Away from Home

In my family of origin, Christmas was a stress-filled time with tempers and emotions flaring. In the house I grew up in with my mother and my grandparents it was full of backstabbing and sniping from a couple of women who really didn’t like themselves or each other very much at all. I hated Christmas and started feeling dread every year around the middle of December. I promised myself that things would be different for my own children, and so far I think I’m doing a pretty good job to make sure that happens.

Last year we were driven from our home for Christmas by a three-day power outage after an ice storm. After the second night of shivering, we packed up a few presents for the kids and holed up at a local hotel. It. Was. Amazing. There was no stress, we swam in the pool and enjoyed a feast that was made by someone else. Oh, and we avoided a lawn tantrum from my mother. I know this because someone from an unidentified number called my cell phone 16 times while I was in the shower on Christmas Eve. Who does that? Either the person you are trying to contact is unavailable, or it’s not a good time, or they don’t answer unknown numbers. Anyway, we returned home to a big bag of unwanted gifts left on our front porch.

My mother has been told, repeatedly, not to contact us and yet continues to try to violate the sanctity of our home with more crap my kids don’t need. It is all promptly disposed of in an appropriate manner, i.e., in teeny tiny pieces. On my daughter’s birthday, a lawn ornament of a variety my mother is fond of was planted in our garden under cover of darkness. It was also smashed to smithereens and thrown out. The mail campaign started shortly thereafter. It’s like a million annoying flies that I have to keep swatting down.

After the birthday incident we installed security cameras. I want a heads up when crazy comes to call. Because we had such a good time spending Christmas away from home last year, we did it on purpose this year. Is it running away from home? Maybe. But I prefer to think of it as re-framing the conversation. My nuclear family, a few special gifts for the kids, and all the comforts of a local resort. Once again, it was amazing. We also avoided another drop-by which we were able to see on video from the comfort of our hotel room. At midnight on Christmas Eve, my broken mother had nothing better to do than to violate my privacy yet again to leave unwanted things for my children on my porch.

For the first time in a very long time, I am not angry. I pity her. Not enough to have her in our lives, because the fact that she refuses to respect the boundaries of no contact is enough to prove that she hasn’t changed at all. And to be frank, this period of no contact has taught me that my life is happier without her in it. But I’m sad that instead of doing the (admittedly hard) work she needs to do to make herself a safe person, she continues to do the same things over and over again hoping things will change. In other words, the very definition of insanity. Meanwhile I continue my journey towards emotional health and happiness for myself, and ultimately for my children. I’m further away from my broken mother than ever, and it’s beautiful here on the other side.

The Miracle of the Crab Pot . . .

I read about the “crab pot theory” in an online advice community (DWIL – Represent!) and had to learn more. This explains so, so much about not just my mother, but the entire cesspool that created her. To this day, other “crabs” are trying to use manipulative tactics to drag me back into the pot. Little do they know, I’m already swimming in the ocean.

Zara Cordella

The Miracle of the Crab Pot is a story I share when people have experienced or are going through a difficult time with their family or relationships. It is especially inspirational if you have come from a highly dysfunctional family or partnership or have ever encountered a narcissistic relationship.

I have no idea where it came from and I think perhaps someone may have sent it to me a long time ago, nonetheless it is very much worth reading as it gives a great insight into how you may have been treated or perhaps someone you know.

The Miracle of the Crab Pot – A beautiful story of survival.

When fishermen catch crabs out at sea they place them in a holding ‘pot’ on board their boat until the time comes to sort them out. In sheer fright and panic the crabs begin to fight and wrestle and try to kill each…

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Shower Revelations

I have taken to vigorous exercise to help get out some of my pent up aggression towards my mother. A very healthy, effective strategy that I highly recommend. Between going no contact with her, going through the introspection that comes as part of therapy and generally taking better care of myself, I very rarely feel angry about the past these days. I’m moving to forgiveness, though reconciliation is not in the cards, now or ever.

Anyway, for reasons I do not understand, I had a revelation while I was showering at the gym today. My mother vented all her rage at me when I was a child, and then I moved out. The first time she tried it after I moved, I got every bit in her face as she was in mine to shout that bitch down. Then we swept everything under the rug and pretended it never happened. Because that is our way. But the switch had flipped, and there was no going back. She never screamed at me again. Instead, my grandmother who was a tyrant to her until dementia took hold, was the subject of her abuse. Under the guise of taking care of her mother in her dotage (“Oh, what a Saint!” her friends and colleagues would say), that woman threatened and screamed and terrorized a woman in her nineties.

Because my mother is a bully and a fucking coward.

And then my grandmother died, and my mother had no nobody left to rage at when she was feeling the itch. So she started hanging around here and tried to make my daughter feel responsible for her feelings too. It’s a subtle game and it takes a long time. It didn’t take her long to cross a line that cannot be uncrossed, managing to hurt my daughter and endanger my son in one swipe.

AND THANK GOD SHE DID! It has made cutting her out of my life forever that much easier. You see, when she started the “come hither, go away” routine with my defenceless child, she was grooming her to take up the abandoned role of Receptacle for Broken Mother’s Shit. She’ll probably find another victim out there, and for that I am truly sad. But there’s only enough room for me and mine in this life raft.

Get Out of My Sight

“Get out of my sight” is a terrifying thing to say to a child. I know, I heard it a lot as a kid. It was usually said with a threatening tone, the implied “or else” was left to my imagination. Let me tell you, the imagination of a small child is nearly limitless.

My daughter looks a lot like I did at the same age. Same innocent little face and big blue eyes. I tried to imagine saying something like that to her. I could not. That’s my new litmus test for normal behaviour towards a child. “Could I say that to my child and not realize I was an out of control monster?” Invariably, the answer is no.

I was the emotional crutch to my broken mother for decades, and now I have cut her completely out of our lives. It has been over a year since the last time I told her I would be in touch if I was ever interested in resuming contact, and that respecting that boundary would go a long way in the healing process. Predictably, she didn’t last long.

Here’s a tip: If someone tells you that you lack the emotional health and stability required to be a safe person in the lives of their children, ACTING LIKE A CREEPY STALKER DOES NOTHING TO ASSUAGE THOSE FEARS!!! With the fresh eyes that come from taking a long break from a problem, I have come to the realization that she will never be a safe person to have around my children. 

Though I live in a city of millions, it often feels like very small town. One of these days I’m going to run into my broken mother in a public setting. I’ve thought long and hard about what I’m going to say to her when that moment comes. Busting out a childhood favourite, “Get out of my sight,” seems as good an idea as any. I’ll let her draw her own conclusions about the “or else.”


My house is a cluttered mess. There are three loads of laundry waiting to be folded and another in the dryer about to ding. There are children’s toys and brand new baby shoes (ridiculously cute, BTW) that just arrived from the online store. It is cluttered, but it is clean. Because I grew up in a filthy house I just cannot tolerate it in my own home. I know the shame that comes with not wanting to have anyone see how you live.

The thing with entering therapy to address childhood issues is that it means opening up old wounds. On the whole this is a healthy process because those wounds did not heal properly and therefore they will always nag and pull. But damn it, it hurts like hell to drag all that dark and twisty stuff out into the light. Like, for instance, Christmas when I was nine.

After my dad died, mom and my grandparents bought a house together for us all to live together in. Sounds like family supporting each other in a time of tragedy, but it was really a dysfunctional shit show. Anyway, my grandparents moved away when I was nine but were coming to visit for Christmas. Even though my grandfather was distant and my grandmother was a bitch, they were the most stable factors in my life. I was so excited to see them again. My mother “let” me stay home from school to get the house ready.

That’s right, a grown woman pulled her nine-year-old CHILD out of school to clean her house for company. There was no list, no instructions on exactly what “clean the house” was supposed to mean. Apparently I was supposed to figure it out myself.

What. The. Fuck!

Predictably, I did a shitty job. Because that’s what happens when you assign inappropriate tasks to CHILDREN and then give them inadequate instructions. When she got home she gave me shit for not properly cleaning her house for company. It’s only now, as a mother, that I recognize the completely asinine nature of that situation. A disgusting slob pulled her CHILD out of school to clean her house, gave her no instructions on what to do or how to do it, and then gave that CHILD shit when it wasn’t done right.

I just… I watch these vignettes of my youth with my adult eyes and I just can’t fucking believe it. I am working with a professional to help deal with my unresolved anger over all of this, but at the same time I’m really quite amazed that I’m not more fucked up.