Posted by: Amber @ NotMommy | July 4, 2010

It's Not Her Job

No, it’s not her job to make me happy!  Peter asked me today “what makes you happy?” We’ve been fighting a lot again lately so it’s been rather tense around here.  I’m, in general, not a very happy person.  I’m more of a neutral type with depressive tendencies.  MAJOR depressive tendencies.  I don’t get excited about much.  If I am excited, I rarely show it.  I don’t know why.

Back to his question, I answered with “nothing”.  Then he asked if Alexa makes me happy.  Being a mother has been the single most amazing thing in my life thus far.  It beat out any other accomplishment I’ve ever had.  That said, I wouldn’t say it makes me a happy person.  I told him the truth.  I love her, and yes, some of the time she makes me happy.  I cannot count the times she’s made me smile, laugh, cry with joy over the last 16 months, but that’s not her job.

I don’t want her to grow up thinking that what she does, or doesn’t do, has any real bearing on my emotional well being.  I want her to know I love her regardless of what she does, I love her because she IS.

I grew up with a mother that used me as a comfort item.  You could say I was her “lovey”.  I was something that she thought completed her.  It has been a huge weight to bear for me.  Whenever I did things that “disappointed” her, I would get multiple page letters explaining to me what I did wrong and how it made her feel.  HUGE guilt trips.  I was used from a very early age.  I’m sure she thought she was doing all the best for me.  I’m certain she had no mal-intent, but that doesn’t stop me from having a strained relationship with her now.  I still feel like I’m the one that has to tell her everything will be ok, be the one she complains to, rants to, looks to for comfort.  It should be the other way around!

So no, it’s not Alexa’s job to make me happy.  Even if I never snap out of it, or “get better” as Peter likes to beg of me…it will never be my daughter’s duty to bring me up when I’m down.

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Responses

  1. No, a mother’s happiness is not her children’s cross to bear. And I’m so sorry that’s what you experienced with your mother. I know what you mean about neutral tendencies. I feel like unless I’m smiling ear to ear and jumping up and down, wagging my tail when he gets home from work, my husband thinks I’m pissed. In a shitty mood. Being a bitch. I tell him he shoulda married a gal who wears her happiness on her sleeve. I wear mine subtle-like. But…the zoloft helped…

    • I guess Peter has gotten over my normal sour-puss face, because he rarely asks me “what’s wrong” these days. I do have to remind him that I’m not in need of fixing….and that I can’t just “get better”. I know he would love it if I were a cheerful person, but I really did warn him going in :-)

  2. Amen. Happy Fourth!

    • Thank you.

  3. Gosh it’s tricky being a mum!! I completely agree with you that we should love our children for who they are and we shouldn’t live our lives through them! They don’t belong to us they belong to the world!
    My mother was completely opposite to yours… I felt she pretty much ignored me, hardly showed me any affection and wasn’t particularly interested in what I was doing with my life! I tried SO hard to please and make her happy, and try to gain some sort of attention, affection.. anything when I was younger! I utterly craved a close mother/daughter relationship but it never happened! Sadly she passed away 6 years ago but we did managed to patch things up little bit before she died, which good but a quite sad too! But I am lucky enough to have a very close realtionship with my Grandma (mum’s mum) and now I also have a really close bond/friendship with my MIL, she is amazing and in a funny way I have adopted her as a surrogate mum :)

    I’m glad Alexa makes you happy… not because she has too :)

    • “we shouldn’t live our lives through them” EXACTLY! People will ask me what I want her to “be” when she grows up. As if her throwing or kicking a ball automatically destines her to a future career in sports. I’ve joked that she’ll be a stripper because she likes to gyrate her hips to hiphop music….”they” didn’t like that little joke ;D

      I’ve never felt like I had any real affection from my mother. I was more of a belonging..a means to an end (long ass reasoning for that, but there were a lot of issues between her and my father before DURING and after my birth). We “get along” but I wouldn’t call us close. I know she craves a close relationship with me, specially now that I have a daughter. She adored her mother, loved her without fail….and she wants so much for me to feel that way about her. The thing is, you cannot dictate how others will feel about you. You can’t force it. She’ll ask me if I miss her, instead of waiting for me to just say it. Then it feels insincere if I do answer yes.

      • It’s sad isn’t it, that our mum’s were/are rather crap! I always wonder what happened to my mum when she was younger to make her the way she was! Though oddly enough she always doted on my sister and brother??? So I don’t know?? Who knows what goes on in peoples heads!!! All I know is I’m cerainly not going to be like my mum! On a positive note at least we know what NOT to do!! We can only try to be the best mums we know how, love our little ones unconditionally and hope they grow up happy within themselves :)

        • Oh that makes me so sad, and angry! To think that you were treated noticeably different than your siblings. I fear I was the favorite…and my brother paid the price. He has suffered because of it, and while it’s his job to fix his life now that he’s an adult…I can only imagine how much better it would have been if he was “wanted” by my mother.

          She has warned me repeatedly NOT to have kids close together in age because of how hard it was for her. I’m not sure I would have fared better had I gone down the same road as her. Luckily…there won’t be another baby for a good long while, if ever, so I can dote on Alexa and not have to worry about spreading myself too thing :-)

  4. It’s great when your kids make you happy. It’s a bonus and a gift. You will find that inner happiness. In the meantime.. enjoy and relish those happy moments that make your heart smile and uplift your spirits.

    • I really do need to learn to live in the moment more, specially when it’s a good moment. I am a pro at dwelling in the bad ones. Thank you for the lovely sentiments.

  5. I’m sorry you’re not feeling happy. It really sucks when people who deserve happiness don’t have it. If happiness existed for people solely based on how good they are as individuals, you would have mountains of it.

    It’s so good that you’re able to recognize the mistakes of your mom and not carry them over into your own parenting style.

    • You’re awesome for saying that! Sometimes I don’t feel as if I deserve happiness, but I think I’m a pretty good person most of the time. I hope so. I hope that all my stupid issues don’t get in the way all the time.

      I feel kinda horrible for always thinking what I can do differently from my mother. Weirdly enough, I don’t remember having a particularly bad childhood. I guess I was shielded to some extent…or I just blocked it out, because now when I think back and know more of the facts, it was pretty effed up.

      All I want for Alexa is to have her grow up and truly know she was loved unconditionally. Even if she doesn’t love everything that I do, I want her to KNOW without a doubt, that I loved her.

  6. this post really hit home for me. i often felt (and still feel) like i was a badge of honor for my mom instead of a person with feelings. she just wanted to have me there, to make her happy and show me off, and what i wanted and the person i turned out to be was incidental and unimportant. it is a killer pressure to be responsible for an adult’s entire happiness when you just want to be a kid. i always knew that her entire life revolved around me and as i grew up it seemed really… unhealthy. creepy even. so like you that’s a huge goal in my parenting now, to break that cycle.

    we could probably gab on and on about this, but GIRL, i can relate. that shit is damaging.

    • OOOH I feel you on the creepiness factor. My mother always asks for hugs because she “needs” them. I’m not a huge hugger to begin with, but specially not when it’s forced. She also pushes for compliments and for me to tell her how much I miss her. She needs me to need her, and it kills her that I don’t. When I had Alexa and told her NOT to come up to visit till a few weeks after we brought her home, I thought she might die.

      When I was born my parents were separated. She likes to tell me how I was “her baby”, and she had me all to herself for months, like that’s a good thing. She goes on and on about how cute I was, and how she would dress me up all the time. It feels as if she’s talking about a doll she bought rather than a baby she birthed. UGH. Maybe that’s why I hate it when people comment on Alexa’s looks and part of the reason I resist dressing her up like a doll (I tend to buy baby clothes that look like they’re made for humans, lol).

  7. Whoa. I just stumbled over here from Sarah at an elephant mom’s everyday adventures blog roll. I have nearly the same relationship with my mom. She has always tried so hard to be my best friend and not really my mom… and I really wish she would have just been my mom instead.

    I’m glad I stumbled over here.

    • My mother never really tried to be my friend, but I had a bff in H.S. who had that mom. We both have such scared relationships with them both that neither of us know what it’s like to have a real mom.

      I can’t say that she didn’t do her “job” in taking care of me…but she also needed me too much. Weirder still, she was totally jealous when my father and I would go out together. This was when they were still married. She’s even more jealous now that I live next door to him and am far closer to him than I am to her. I guess she thinks that daughters ought to be closer to their moms.

  8. You are already a far better mother than your own for even recognizing that you DON’T want to be like her. I know exactly how you feel. Motherhood is so hard and just having a child around you all day does NOT make you feel happy. It is your job to be your daughter’s mother, not her best friend. So I feel that since you already know this, you are farther ahead than most! Keep up the excellent mothering!

    • Thank you for that. I kind of feel like an asshole for NOT wanting to be like my mother. I can’t even imagine trying to be Alexa’s friend. I mean, I hope she feels safe telling me things, but I don’t want to be her bff, and I don’t want her to feel like she needs to be mine, ya know?

  9. 1. I’m sorry you’re not feeling happy. I know too well what that’s like.
    2. I think not wanting to be like your own mother is excellent fuel in terms of making you the parent Alexa needs you to be.
    3. I really don’t like the phrase “make you happy.” NOTHING makes me happy. The only real happiness I’ve ever experienced has come from within. It’s just getting there that’s the hard part.

    Hang in there, mama. I know it’s tough – marriage, parenting, managing your own moods, all of it. But you’ve got what it takes to make it all work!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m feeling much better lately. Now that I’ve realized my moods are much more dependent on my monthly hormone cycles I can pinpoint the days where my outrageous swings are going to happen (or at least realize that the horrid moods will end in a few days, even if I can’t circumvent them happening in the first place).

      Like you, nothing really makes me happy. I have a few times in my life where I can say I was happy because of other things. Those other things were mostly illegal, haha, so it was a “fake happy” but at least I can say I’ve felt it. Even if it was fleeting. I can feel proud of what I’ve done, but I’m hard-pressed to say I’m happy these days. I’m pretty good with feeling “neutral” if nothing else :-)


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