Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanks Mom

I have a grievance. I have a grievance and I am airing it here.

When we were at my parents for Thanksgiving, my mother called me into a room and showed me some pictures that she has framed. She has dozens of photos of our family everywhere in her house. Her mother did the same and I think it is really cool. She picked up a picture that was about 10 years old of herself, my sister and I. Then she said "Look at your hair here, doesn't it look pretty?". Then she picks up another photo, really old, points at me in it and says "Look here, look how nice your hair was then".

I stared.

*thud* is the sound an eyelash would have made falling, if such a thing dared to happen.

I have been growing my hair long because I love long hair. I fear "Mom hair", that is true, but I also really love it long. I don't like to take care of it long, and quite frankly I wander around looking like a wife of Warren Jeffs from his polygamous sect in Texas most of the time. I pin up the bangs on top in a little poof, then shove all the rest into a ponytail, loop, or ugly braid most days. But it's there when I want it to look good and after all, it is my head and my head has been owned by me longer than it was owned by her by now.

I was fairly well stunned. Sadly, not terribly surprised. So I muttered a few things about, well yeah it looked good then and um yeah, that was nice. Then my mother is starting to notice that I am not as excited about her observation as she is. So she starts asking "Don't you think it was pretty then? I mean, you have to agree it was pretty". I said something to the effect of, "I can't believe you" and went out to tell The Husband that my mother just told me my hair was ugly. He is a good The Husband and if nothing else I have taught him his lines well, so he said of course, that he thinks my hair looks great.

By now my mother has charged out of the room following me. Now she is hammering at me to agree with her. "It looked good, you don't agree that it looked good? You don't think it was pretty?" and she repeated herself about 20 more times. Stuck like a record she was, or like Genea on a bad day (more on that later). Finally I told her, "you know what, I am totally going to write this down on my blog and the whole world wide web is going to know what you said". Then she repeated the questions above and ended it. She must have thought she saw some confidence that needed squelching. Sigh.

So we were on the phone the other day and she mentioned something she had said on Thursday but I had thought I did not hear her right so I had ignored it. Lucky for me she repeated herself. She said, she doesn't think Genea has gotten any better in the past 2 years. Not better at all, in fact maybe even worse.

Talk about soul-crushing. Damn.

I work harder with Genea on any given day than I ever have in the span of any 2 random months of my entire life. Genea spent the first 18 months or so with us doing the Miss Pretty Perfect act with other people. Not at home with us mind you, but around anyone that was not us, she was a delightful charming child. It was all fake. So now the past year or so around my mother aka Genea's grandmother she has started to let out a smidge, just a smidge of The Crazy. So that is what I told her. I said, its a compliment she feels more comfortable with you now. She used to be fake around you and now she is showing herself a little.

The truth is, even a little peek into The Crazy is more than folks can take. The girls stayed with my parents for a few days over the summer and my mom sent them home early when they were surprised by a visit from The Crazy. It sent my mother over the edge and after a day of it was so overwhelmed, sucked in and dragged down, she called us to pick them up early. The Husbands mother, the other grandmother, saw a brief glimpse about a year ago and she literally ran out of my house, hustled down the stairs crying after less than 10 minutes. She had to leave.

So that's how things are rolling over here. Uphill.


  1. my oh my, well if it is any consolation I think G is doing amazing and you are right, she is learning to trust them and it is only when they trust that they can test. Huge steps for her, to bad she can't see that.
    I have long hair too, it is easier in so many ways.
    Too bad your not coming for dinner, it would be fun but it is kinda far.

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  3. Oh this just pains me to hear. I am so sorry that you're not getting complete unconditional support from your mom right now. The hair comments were enough, but then to hear that she's just not acknowledging your unbelievable efforts AND RESULTS with Genea galls me. So sorry. Please know that we all think you are doing great work (and we all know how hard it is every waking moment...), and also your hair? It looks good!

  4. Too mad to say anything nice....

    but some people should try to walk just 2 inches in our shoes!

  5. Wow. My mom never says anything about my hair, but she harps on my weight ALL the time. Sometimes I just want to tell her that at least I'm not old and wrinkled up. Sigh. Mothers. I'm sure I'll be just as bad as my own.

    I guess you can't expect them to understand, what you are doing is something that not a lot of people would do willingly, and apparently something they wouldn't choose to do themselves. C'est la vie. You just keep right on doing it, it's for you and for Genea, not for them anyway.

  6. Yeah...what they said! Long hair has proven to be much easier.

    I know it's not nice when people talk about your family BUT.... Double Dog Damn....that was NOT nice. Santa is NOT going to be happy with her.

  7. Well, that is just the charm of a mother, I suppose. Once, my sister said something about getting her hair high-lighted like mine, and my mom very quickly piped in, "on no! don't do THAT!" I was all, "so, Mom, you don't like my hair, I take it?"

    (And, good perspective on the Genea thing.)

  8. Sorry about your mom and the hair thing. My mom only knocks me about my parenting. (i.e.My kids have issues because I am too strict, too lenient, too nice, too mean, a pushover, a drill sargeant...great setup...I am not supposed to win.)

    I am with you on that nature walk thing. Like looking at it but walking in it...not really.

    I think Genea was very brave. You can tell her I am many years older and would not be that brave!

  9. Ugh, I'm so sorry. Why can't people just have common sense? I'm sorry that it has to be your MOM who's oblivious, too. =( Big hugs~
    Oh, and I agree-long hair is SO much easier in the end!

  10. Thanks guys! I know I always try to leave a comment when I see other people going thru this sort of thing with their radlets, and mention that other people are probably not going to understand unless they have lived it. It is just impossible.
    All that, and it still felt like getting hit by a bus! But, she's my mom and most of the time she is great. Sigh.

  11. If nothing else, Essie, you are teaching me what kind of Mom NOT to be (meaning the examples of your parents/in-laws, not you). I tend to be critical of my children, and I KNOW I have to STOP IT RIGHT NOW!!! Good lesson! :)

    You are an amazing woman to have taken the life of this little girl into your hands and loved her with more than you have to give! I think I might need to give you a call some day b/c my kids have "issues" and I might benefit from your wisdom! :)

  12. do you think the first comment was left by your mom?

  13. I am sorry, Essie. I have noticed with my adopted children that the average person (family included) has lots of sympathy and compassion and love for the poor, abused, neglected orphan until they see behavior. Once they see behavior, they associate the kid with the behavior, assume it is all the kid's fault and proceed accordingly.

    It still hurts me and surprises me when it happens and we have had our boys for almost six years.

    ...and how rude of your mother to make comments about your hair!! That would be enough to make me lock myself in the bathroom with my flask!

  14. Wow. My mother has always had this hard and fast rule about never making any critical comments or even any suggestions that could ever possibly be interpreted as critical. And when my mother makes rule for herself, she will keep it! No one ever came close to the self-control and will-power of my mother. HOWEVER, I've thought, it hardly matters because I can easily dream up 150 critical things that she (or anyone else might be thinking).... but you now have me convinced to be grateful and appreciative! Hadn't actually imagined how unpleasant "critical" could be!

    One thought though...I think her repetitions simply asked for an honest response (like you gave us). Occasionally someone (definitely not my mom) will say something like that - and I just tell them straight out what they want to know. (In my case, often: "Yes; I'm sure I would look better in pants but I like dresses, and decided to please myself." This clarifies that you take their point, and also that you don't care!

  15. Ugg...So sorry. I think it's amazing how hard you work with Genea, and she definitely has improved- a lot.

  16. Well, there is some consolation that she sees that Gena has problems. That you aren't just too hard on her and making it up. We started out with the fam thinking we were nutso and that the kids were great. . .Grandma watched the kids ONE NIGHT (when I was in labor) and got kicked, spit on, and yelled at and she has vowed to never do it again. It made me feel vindicated.

    The next time she says something about the Jessup Poof let the kiddo have a sleepover with her.

  17. Dang girl! You so fine with the long hair, I was fixin' ta put the moves on you.. (except for the being hetero and all.. technicalitities)

    Mothers are a complicated thing. But girlfriends, besides trying to make you giggle through your tears, will also tell it like it is. So here goes: Your Mom is WRONG. That was not nice. She clearly has zero concept of what your life is actually like, how hard you work, how much you love your little porcupine, and she just does NOT KNOW what she is talking about.

    So, come to Orlando. But please don't bring your mother. ;-)


  18. You are doing a great job! Mom's know just how to say the WRONG thing sometimes. When ever I try to address it the whole thing back fires on me and the offender suddenly becomes the victim and why am I attaching them and being so sensitive and taking things the wrong way.

    I have long hair too and when I went for a trim last week my regular stylist wasn't there. This new person informed me that I "need a style" and went to work on me. She said, "There now you have style instead of your hair just hanging there looking bad." My MIL said she couldn't believe I wasn't offended. In the end I like what she did so that's probably why I wasn't offended.

  19. I swear, you could have been writing a blog post for me! Only I like to wear my hair shorter (not short, just shorter than long) and my mother does the same trying to be manipulative, but mostly being mean speech about how she likes it better long and so of course, I do too. Despite the fact that I like it shorter. At the moment it's long and I can't wait to cut it. Just in time for Christmas. Because I can, so pppbbbrrrtttsss!!!!

    And, I have a foster son who is perfectly perfect for others, but has brought The Crazy for my husband and I daily. Somedays we spend more time with The Crazy than we do The Boy. My MIL has never seen The Crazy, but we were at my mother's this week and boy, did Crazy ever show up. Head smashing, screaming, furniture throwing, blind rage Crazy. And my mother tried to say that it was our fault. At one point she attempted a liberation march into the room where we were holding him to the ground (to keep him from bashing his own head in), took one look at the screaming, fighting tangle of 3 year old rage on the floor and went running back to the kitchen.

    Sometimes commiseration helps. Knowing I'm not alone in both of these areas made me feel better. Thanks.

  20. Ha ha- Liberation march... I can just picture it!

    Just to clarify, I was comparing myself to a Jessup Sista-wife, not my mom!

    So its nice to know its not "just me"! Cuz whenever I do try to say, ya know that was a bloody rude thing to say, I get the turnaround. "Why are you so negative, you always focus on the negative. You are too sensitive" blah blah blah.

    Jen- you can email me whenever you want! I plan to be a horrible mother in law some day.
    Annie- I know and I think that is true but no way was I going to throw that bone.

    Genea really HAS come SO FAR. I know that. I have to remember, unless you have lived it it is almost impossible to understand. I would never have understood this whole pile of craziness before either!

  21. BTW - the worst thing I EVER did was cut my hair. It is a LOT harder to take care of short and looks stupid to boot.

  22. I love your hair and think it is so cute that you and your girls have similar hair styles.

    My mother recently told me that the last time I was well-dressed was when I was ten and she was still dressing me... and it's a fact and everybody knows it! (I'm laughing as I read this but I wasn't laughing at the time.) Oh, the buttons mothers can push.

  23. If it's not one thing, it's your mother. *le sigh*

    MY mom likes to buy me things out of the blue. It's her "credit" to withdraw from my bank of self-esteem, and you know what? I get sucked in EVERY TIME. Yay, new shoes! But, I'm too lenient on my kids/fat/slovenly/rude. My kids dress slutty/like boys/are too chunky for that outfit... But hey! NEW SHOES!


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