Mother’s love – a right or a privilege?

I have always had a difficult relationship with my mother. Unconditional love was non-existent in our house, approval was all based on how good, pretty, smart or funny we were. No matter how much we excelled at things, anything short of perfection was a failure. A score of 99% only elicited questions about the 1% we got wrong.

Since becoming a mother myself I can appreciate that perhaps she did the best she could, I am sure she had no better access to that child raising manual than I did, but it still leaves me wondering, what do you do when you just don’t like your mother?

My mother has never understood boundaries and has always tried to infiltrate and control every aspect of our lives, and she has attempted to continue this with my own children. To give her credit, she stepped in as chief babysitter to my eldest when my second child was extremely ill, during this period she was a lifesaver, however I sadly learnt that her motives had not been entirely pure, and my need for assistance has been systematically thrown in face as an example of my poor parenting skills and that I cannot cope on my own.

Later when I found myself a divorced, single mother of 3 children, she again stepped up to the plate and helped with child minding. It was working reasonably well until she started referring to my children as hers, and when we got to the point where she actually argued with me that they were more her children than mine the alarm bells rang. Too many boundaries had been well and truly crossed and the relationship deteriorated immensely. (not to mention she started rearranging my furniture and the clothes in my closet because my arrangements did not meet with her approval)

When I remarried, she even accused my new husband of trying to take “her” children away from her! During this enormously stressful, and I admit, venomous period in our relationship, she told me that I should have stayed married and unhappy rather than bring down the embarrassment of a divorced daughter on her head. This statement just cemented for me the distance between my mother and I. Is not the most important thing for a mother the happiness of her child?

After a recent episode where she (and my father) denigrated me, behind my back but in front of one of my children, quite a distressing event for my daughter, I have no desire to continue with any sort of relationship. I do wonder though, am I going to regret this?

Society norms dictate that parents, particularly mothers are special, to be respected and loved. Is this a right or does it have to be earned?

Leave a comment


  1. Wow, that’s a tough question. As far as the comments about you in front of one of your children….my husband and I have always said that, if that ever happens, it will be the end of the road for us as far as a relationship goes with that person. Is that the right call? Some people would probably say no. They could be right. For us, since it is already a strained relationship, and it is something that the parent of said person did continually in front of the ‘said person’s’ children, that’s the breaking point for us. And with the allowance that things could change in the future, because who can see the future, right? There is no reason to allow someone to undermine your authority like that just because they are family. Would you if it were anyone else? Thats the question I ask myself. It helps me to get some perspective. Hope you can figure it out. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading what you had to say!

  2. I believe a mother’s love is a right as long as the children are small, when they grow up and they can understand what’s going on, a mother’s love is a privilege. In your situation, I doubt you’d regret it, because after all.. it was her choice to treat you this way. If she expects you to smile and be fine after she does all these things, then I think she’s wrong. You’re a human too, after all..

  3. Goodness, that is a tricky place to be in. In full disclosure, I grew up motherless and so have no experience with this very intimate relationship. I am a mother though ( to a little boy) and my wish is to remain an important part of his life for the rest of my life. I think to be able to do that, I have to know where my bondaries are. At the moment, he is 10, so I am all over the kid. In 10 years time, and in 20 years time, this relationship will change and it seems like your mother hasn’t recognised this and can’t change her position. An adult woman with grown children requires support and love, not guilt and drama.
    I think you’ve made the right call, but I know you will feel heavily about it for some time.

  4. goodoldgirl

     /  April 1, 2012

    I’m not sure that unconditional love is even possible. We base every relationship we have on how the other person treats us. It doesn’t really matter whether they’re family or not. None of us have the right to abuse another person, especially our family. Even if there is no affection, family members should, at the very least, show each other the respect they would show others. We can’t pick our families but we can choose to walk away from family members who hurt us. And if we do, then we shouldn’t feel guilty about self preservation.

    • I do wonder often about why society seems to dictate that our families can treat each other in appalling ways and you are supposed to turn the other cheek, the old adage ‘you only hurt the ones you love’ I guess. I have always thought that the ones you love are the ones you should treat the best. Love is such a scarce commodity it should be nurtured and cherished, not just assumed and trampled all over.

  1. Unconditional love « Lipstick Rhetoric

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