My mom and I have always had a tenuous relationship. She never agreed with my life choices or lack of religion and I never felt good enough. I tried too hard to win her approval and grew up with a lot of shame that took years and distance to heal. Since moving away, we have enjoyed a fairly cordial relationship that consisted of occasional talks on the phone and a couple of visits a year. But every time there is a visit, one of us inevitably gets hurt and my mother always throws massive tantrums poised at hurting me. However, this last trip was the worst.
She came to visit and it was nothing short of horrific. There were tears and yelling and so much stress. The straw that broke the camel’s back was that she made my child cry and doubled down by saying, “I don’t care.” She left without a goodbye and it felt more like a good riddance. But I am still struggling. I understand the fight escalated because of past traumas and triggers. I am certain there are underlying, undiagnosed, and untreated mental health issues and I feel for her and her inability to take responsibility for her actions or control her emotions. But then I also feel that that does not excuse her behavior. Part of me wants to give her grace and the other half wants to protect myself and my child from her meltdowns. I want a mother-daughter relationship with her more than anything and I have tolerated so much over the years in hopes of obtaining that. Is that desire even justified if it hurts my kids? How much more should I even allow myself to tolerate? I feel so stuck between being a good daughter and being a good mother.
—The Not So Perfect Daughter