The Mother Target
By Bernadette A. Moyer
Is there anyone out there who hasn’t had issues with their mother, over one thing or another, not ever? I am beginning to believe that “mom” wears the target and always has and always will. I mean without “mom” we wouldn’t even have been born so surely our struggles are all “her” fault, right?
Mom didn’t love us enough or she loved us too much. She was overly protective and controlling or she didn’t protect us enough and neglected us. I never hated my mother, not ever. But I never really related well with her either.
So what was my beef with her? Initially it was that she just wasn’t very feminine and not the mother I had envisioned for myself. She was tough as nails and often without much class. She was big and loud and boisterous. Yet I was told that these were the things that she became after my parent’s divorce. The woman that married my father was tall and just 105 pounds; the one who got a divorce from him was closer to 300 pounds. So what happened to her?
Later my issues were much bigger when I learned that her second husband was a child abuser. After that there was no coming back to her. She stood by him and I stood alone.
Recently I met up with one of my favorite young people. He is the same age as my twin children. We have a professional relationship but often talk about our families and issues. He loves his mother and I know that she loves him too. But … the little guy that blindly loved her is now a grown up and questions what makes her tick. He is becoming his own man and here comes the natural separation that occurs when our kids declare that they aren’t just our kids anymore. But rather an adult with their own moral code, set of values and ideas on what their life should look like sans any parental interference.
Another friend loved and adored his mother, always did. He talks about her all the time, she has passed on and in his words, “not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.” Yet it took decades before he could confide in her that he was a gay man. He was so worried about being honest with her. When he finally told her she said, “Is it my fault? Did I make you gay?” His response, (I love) “You give yourself far too much credit. No, it has nothing to do with you.”
Mothers are often so accustomed to accepting blame and responsibility for what their children do even when they aren’t little children anymore. How often do we blame the parents? What kind of home did they come from? Yet sit and talk with any parents of adult children and you will soon learn how little if any control mom or dad has when their child reaches the age of maturity.
My son and I have a very different relationship than what I experienced with my girls. We are really close and accepting of one another. Yet I see that same kind of “rub” with his father that I once experienced with my daughters. So is it that mirror image thing? I watch my husband get ticked off at our son for doing the same exact things my husband, his father does. I have to laugh.
Therapists have made a fortune trying to unravel the mother-daughter relationship. They say it is the most complicated of all relationships and can offer the greatest of joy or the most painful experiences of all. I always believed that life was tough enough without at least having a mother. I don’t think I would have been driven to adopt pre-mature infant twins if I thought their life would have been better without any mother at all. After their birth mother died, I assumed the role of “mom.” The mother is the one person who is supposed to love you no matter what you do.
From the beginning of time mothers have worn the target on their backs. The blame game, mom did this or mom did that mom was there or mom never was there for me. It is a miracle that any mother gets it right when our expectations are so high for her. The mother is supposed to be all loving and all giving and all of the time.
How does that work though, when the target of the child’s rage is so often directed at the very person who gave them life and brought them into the world? I don’t believe that anyone’s life is better without their mother in their life. I learned how to live without my mother. I lived without her for more than two decades before she died. I did okay but it was not at all ideal.
My husband always loved his mother and had peace with her. But that didn’t mean that he was always happy with her either. In his words there were times she was “loud and embarrassed him in public.” Yet he always chose love over denial. He never denied her.
When you have little children no one tells you that one day they will grow up and they just might reject you and target you with all their rage and anger. The more I talk with other parents and mothers of adult children, the more I learn just how challenging the mother-child relationship can be and is for so many.
We want “mom” to be everything, virginal, pure, perfect but cool and worldly and educated too. We want “mom” to be everything and more, we want to dismiss her too when she is not in keeping with our “vision” of what “mom” should be and mean to us. What a burden to put on anyone. When I think of it, what right did I have to expect my mother to be more “feminine” if that wasn’t her, that wasn’t her!
The best part about having raised our kids and knowing that they are adults now is in knowing that our job is done. They can love us or hate us, their choice. We know that we did the work. We did the best we could and there are no do-overs. I don’t know if there are any women though, mothers or mothers to be that go into having children with a desire to being the target for their children just because they are the “mom.”
Here is to all the “moms” out there, I know one thing for certain, we all want the very best for our children whether they are with or without us!
Bernadette on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer