3 Things We Don’t Talk About on Mother’s Day

In the fanciest words, the most unusual descriptions, and the deepest expressions of love, people often rave about their own family members and their own mother, “The most radiant role model, the best friend, the greatest inspiration, and the most unconditional support.”

Optionally, the roles are often reversed, and one’s own child is at the peak of emotions because that is “The greatest love of life, the deepest fulfillment, the only destiny, the most overwhelming happiness.”

Don’t get me wrong, there are happy families out there, with (almost) perfect children and wonderful parents, who deserve to be celebrated not just one day of the year, but every day -without all the commercialized side of beautiful days like “Mother’s Day.”

But the truth is, there are many messed up, complicated, or lousy mother-child relationships out there, or parent-child relationships, but because we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, I take THE MOTHER as the basis for my text- and because, in case you haven’t guessed it, my mother (parents) sucked but I survived -not just that, I blossomed and bloomed, now starting to wilt a little, but still in bloom -kinda.

Nobody talks about these things, and yet these dysfunctional relationships are the root of enormous potential for suffering.

“You poor thing,” how often I heard this sentence, from strangers mostly, or people who didn’t know me too well.

I never got why I was a poor thing. Did THEY say it because my parents were violent alcoholics and I grew up with my grandma from an early age on, or maybe because I visited an elite boarding school in the South of Germany, even though we were poor farmers? Maybe I am a poor thing because I got a heck of an education and had the most wonderful childhood -just not with my parents.

So to all the misfits and orphans out there, the black sheep, and the apples that rolled away from the trees, this one is for you! (Why isn’t there a black sheep day or a misfit day, or a day that celebrates the bravery of orphans and foster children?)

In order to finally put an end to the suffering, I’m going to talk about it today –someone has to 🙂 so it’s me -again.

1. You are not responsible for your mother’s happiness.

For some mothers, frustration, bad mood, and stress are the rule rather than the exception. Perhaps they are in an unhappy partnership, have financial worries, suffer from depression, or don’t really know what to do with themselves and their lives.

If the resilience is low anyway due to the circumstances, then everything spontaneous, loud, unpredictable, wild, and difficult, even childish little things are an additional stress factor for the mother and no matter how much she “pulls herself together”, the children have very fine antennas and quickly find out what makes mom happy and what gives her extra work.

Accordingly, they adjust their behavior (often unconsciously) so they are quieter, or funnier or they make an enormous effort in school. Or choose a hobby that mom likes. Or help more in the household.
This pattern can continue into old age, because after all, you know what mom likes, right?
Hasn’t she always wanted someone to study?
And isn’t her greatest wish grandchildren?
And wouldn’t she be deeply disappointed if you didn’t show up at every family party?

And bang! You try (even at the age of 47) to make your mom happy, because “If you would stop by more often, I wouldn’t be so lonely.”

The truth is, you are not responsible for the happiness or misfortune of your parents.
You are not responsible for whether your mother is in a good mood today, or bad, because “you haven’t reached out for so long”.
You’re not responsible for making her bitter because she “wanted to make something out of her life, but then she got you, and missed all the opportunities.”
You’re not responsible for her secretly blaming you for staying in a toxic relationship “so you can have a home” (WTH, who wants to grow up in a toxic home?)

You are not responsible for your mother’s happiness or unhappiness.
It’s not your fault!

If you want to encourage, love, gift, support, and help her, do it because you want to -not because she expects it from you.

What are you responsible for instead?
You are responsible for keeping your distance when every encounter and conversation with your mother puts you down.
You are responsible for not attending a wedding party, communion, birthday party, and all other family get-togethers if you always need two days to recover emotionally from it afterward.
You are responsible for not allowing yourself to be manipulated and not having to listen to smug, hurtful, or disrespectful remarks –about yourself in general, your figure, your parenting style, your way of life, your style of clothing, your choice of job in particular– by setting clear boundaries, or -and that will sound brutal- as a consequence, by breaking up contact altogether.

Often mom’s relationship with her mom wasn’t great either and she never got over it. Break the cycle!

That is your responsibility.
Not if mom is okay and not whether she likes you.

2. And hey mom, you are not responsible for the happiness of your children.

This I have watched all my life, as a bystander. The mom beats herself up because her child became a drug addict. The parents don’t understand why their children are in trouble with the law. The mom, who watches her daughter stay in a relationship with a guy who is not treating her right.

The truth is, having children is a fulfilling task, but not THE FULFILLMENT.
Having children is the closest thing to selflessness, but not LOVE.
Having children is really beautiful, but short-lived –because they move out (most of them), they become independent and you may not see them for years.

If you have established your identity in your motherhood, then it will be bad for you when the children are gone –from one day to the next your fulfillment, your love, and “everything that is important to me” is gone, and then?
What about then?
Do you then live in the “abandoned nest” without fulfillment and without love?
That would be very undignified.

You can actually draw a lot of affirmation, love, and fulfillment from this mother-parenthood thing, and really lose yourself in the emotions –socially absolutely accepted and highly praised- just the same way you can lose yourself in a relationship.
However, I think this child focus is totally unhealthy for everyone involved.

Don’t get so focused on your child and don’t go crazy when something doesn’t work out (which happens often enough), instead focus on living a happy life –that’s what everyone benefits from the most, including your children.
Once the children are gone, nothing changes for you at all –you are just as happy as before, only this time without children (which is also cheaper in the long run ;).
Being free from your own children is the most relaxed thing of all, and you can practice that even before they move out completely.

If the child is your absolute priority, your mood of the day will also depend on the child’s mood of the day, and you will always try to keep it positive. What can you do to make the mood good again? An ice cream? Cinema? Help with homework? More pocket money? Funny jokes?
This is not only very questionable and exhausting but on top of that it is wrong because then the child is actually leading your life.
In a parent-child relationship, however, the child should never lead.

It’s your life! You set the course.
You set the direction -the important thing is that the direction is good, the child can follow!

Your child will do some nonsense in the future, it will make wrong decisions, it will be with people you don’t agree with, and sometimes they will be unhappy.
Remember! None of this is your fault.

Oh yes, speaking of guilt…

3. Your parents are not to blame for your misfortune.

There are horrible homes with beatings instead of love, and manipulation instead of affection. There are homes with abuse instead of support, with neglect instead of caring. The list of hellish torments is long.

You know what I believe?
I am convinced that people who play an important role and have a great task in life often experience the worst resistance at a very early age. As an older person once said, “The devil is not stupid, he knows who he is dealing with, and if he manages to harm the person in childhood, then this has only advantages for him.”

The wounds are deep, the consequences for the personality devastating, a clear 1-0 victory of darkness.

I know that I am walking on very thin ice with what I am about to write because there are countless therapies, books, methods, and techniques on how to work through the past out there. It basically means you will deal with the suffering for years and decades and you kind of re-invent the victim mentality over and over.

Then you become the one whose mother was mentally ill, or whose mother was an alcoholic.

My proposal is -considering you are healthy and mentally stable- to turn the whole thing into the exact opposite.

Today. Now.

It’s bad enough what happened. But now it’s your turn.

Step one! And please remember that!

Stop looking at yourself as being a victim, and don’t think about yourself as being a victim, because then you will act like a victim.
Make a conscious decision against the victim role, against the “My parents are to blame for my …”, against the “If the bad hadn’t happened back then, then I would be somewhere else entirely.”

No matter how loud the opposite feelings and thoughts scream and argue against -and they will- always, ignore that.

No matter what terrible things happened back then, you are stronger.
Show the world why you’re here -and it’s not to come to terms with your past, it’s about your future.
Show the world how strong and beautiful you are.
Be happy. The past is history, learn from it, forgive (you won’t forget), and look forward.

1:1000000 victory for you.

Are you in?

So love yourself, love life, and be happy!

And to all others who happen to have a great relationship with their mom.

Happy Mother’s Day


27 thoughts on “3 Things We Don’t Talk About on Mother’s Day

  1. There are so many people who need to read this, Bridget. I have friends of more than 50 years, well into their seventies who still carry the baggage of their childhood and have never learned how to apply the truths you’ve outlined here, and they are emotionally crippled.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tho my family was not dysfunctional, so to speak, my mother was not the nurturing, affectionate, understanding mother my friends had. Thanks for the honest and welcome post in the sea of “My Mom IS The BEST!” posts

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excuse me while I cry a bit. I’m not a violent alcoholic. I’m not a drug user. I’m a teacher…a damn good one. But I am the pariah of my family. I am toxic. So though I have 5 grandchildren, it’s best if I keep my distance from them. I have 5 children. Same thing. So though I sent flowers to both daughters and to my daughter-in-law, I got 1 picture of flowers, and one cat meme. I got a card “signed” by my youngest grandchild applauding a grandmother though I have not seen him in 2 years. It hurts me to the core.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rebecca, it seems like you would like to change the situation, and if that’s the case, then please do it. Your grandchild is reaching out to you, just answer!
      Perhaps you should ask for a gettogether and then just ask your daughters and your son what they want. The truth might sting and perhaps could even hurt, and there is a chance things might not get solved, but then at least you tried.
      You wouldn’t cry if you would be happy with the current situation. I am sorry my post made you cry. This was not my intention at all, rather the opposite, I hoped to make ‘children’ of all ages who grew up with similar circumstances than mine, feel better.


      • The grandson that sent the card has no idea who I am. His mom bought the card and he just wrote on it.
        But she wants nothing to do with me.
        I have been teaching for over 50 years. So obviously I don’t know what I’m talking about–I’m a dinosaur. Let’s get them labeled as dysfunctional so they can get the help (therapy! and drugs?) they need to be normal. I think they’re already normal, and labeling them is going to reinforce the fact that they now think they’re abnormal or subnormal, and they’ll carry that around for the rest of their lives. And because I said that out loud, I’m now toxic.
        I’m sorry. I’m venting.


  4. Great post. I’m sad about your parents. Their loss! Your grandma is an Angel in every sense. And she passed that on to you. I’m happy to read your words. Always. My dear one, I wish you miracles on this day. Xoxo.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I hear what you say and, sadly, have witnessed the negative effects dysfunctional (for whatever reason) families have on their offspring. Being involved in education means that we often have to deal with the ‘less than ideal’ aspects of life. I am one of the fortunate ones who enjoyed growing up with loving parents and whose children have all found ways of wishing me well today. I have never enjoyed the commercial side of any of these so-called special days – I saw so many people walking around with supermarket flowers, potted plants, cakes and cards this morning! For me a message or phone-call is best. I have regular contact with my scattered children anyway and so I count my blessings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think it resent years we have become more aware of it and we address the issue more freely. For years it was a subject nobody wanted to talk about.
      I am glad your scattered children all reached out! Happy Mother’s Day.


  6. Very good post! All the points are valid, but I think #3 if you are from a really toxic family situation is the one that lingers sometimes for the child’s entire life. Self-pity is one of the most destructive emotions, and it entitles the person to do many self-destructive things to compensate.

    Liked by 3 people

    • As you probably know, I am on of these children. I come from an abusive, self-destructive home, but was fortunate, after an accident that involved me, I went to live with my grandma. However, and you are correct, the past lingers in our lives and it often does, because of our society. The picture-perfect family, while existing, is not the norm. There are many broken homes out there and family situation one might call ‘not normal’.
      Self-pity is often how we react when people around us feel sorry for us.
      I started healing when I accepted my past and when I started to look around. I wasn’t the only one. There was nothing wrong with me, but a lot with the people who meant well, but couldn’t articulate their feelings.
      Today, because I talk openly about it I set the ‘tone’.
      “My parents were violent alcoholics who abused me, and my grandma later on gave me the most wonderful childhood a kid can have.”
      When I think about my past I smile!

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Well said. We don’t get to choose our parents and they are not always the stellar individuals we think they are, but as children, how can we gauge it? It is only once we reach adulthood and sometimes have a lot of therapy, that we can start to figure things out and realize we can move forward. 🤗

    Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s