Ignored While Not Being Ignored

I awoke Saturday morning to the sound of my phone going off from received texts. One of these read, “Happy Birthday Michelle! Please text me a good time to call you. We love you. Mom and Lane.” I replied that I was up so feel free. Honestly, I figured it would be better to get it over with and the sooner the better.

Afterward the phone conversation, I thought, “Why couldn’t I have pretended I missed that one?”

As I process my thoughts from that conversation, I was trying to find articles I’ve read in the past about the characteristics of narcissists. The thing is, I think there is a distinct difference between a regular joe-schmoe narcissist and a narcissistic mother. I probably think that because I have a narcissistic mother and haven’t, in many years anyway, dealt with a regular joe-schmoe narcissist all that closely. I found a quiz online titled, “Are YOU a daughter of a narcissistic mother? Take this survey to find out.” A list of 33 questions appeared in the body.

I shall start with the very first one and use my conversation with my mom to highlight this characteristic.

  1. When you discuss your life issues with your mother, does she divert the discussion to talk about herself?

When my mom called me after receiving my reply text, she said “Happy Birthday” and then delved into her plans for the day. She made the obligatory inquiry about the children, and when I mentioned that Sarah had been inducted into the National Honor Society the previous Wednesday and was remembering how awestruck I was as they listed Sarah’s accomplishments. She did not miss a beat and jumped right into telling me how proud her own father must have been when she was graduating from nursing school and she would stand for all the honors she received. She listed off things like her Nursing Honor Society and her Dean’s List honors and some other things (honestly, I was so annoyed that I spaced off…)

I also mentioned that Sarah decided to participate on the swim team this year — truly an undertaking since Sarah has never swam competitively before. My mom launched into praise of my nieces and nephews and all of their swimming dominance. I am absolutely supportive of my nieces and nephews and all of their swimming feats. However, I get so sick of my child NOT being acknowledged by my mother. And, I’m really happy that my mom is so in tune with my nieces and nephews — I guess she can pay attention to at least a couple of grandkids. But this is typical and while I never begrudge any of my nieces and nephews their accomplishments, I definitely find myself annoyed at my mother’s constant throwing of them in my face as if my kids don’t accomplish things of their own (which she ignores…often)

Finally, she asked what course of study Sarah was thinking of for university and I did the stupid thing in mentioning Sarah’s potential interest in nursing school. Gah! I was then told how my mother had received “the call” to be a nurse at the age of six. And no, she didn’t realize that call until after she’d had five children, but she had been “called.” And she threw her 20 year career at me with her “advice” that she imparts to anyone who considers being a nurse: “If you haven’t been “called” to the profession, you will not be prepared to make the critical decisions required to be a good nurse.” (yes, it’s okay if you use a nasal, annoying craptastic voice as you read that part.)

So…forget that she was talking to me for a minute and let’s just freaking focus on the fact that she can’t even recognize her oldest grandchild’s accomplishments for what they are and without making it about her. ugh.

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I think I have had it. I think this is the last birthday I allow my mother to ruin.

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27. Did you feel you had to take care of your mother’s emotional needs as a child?

AND 32. Does your mother compete with you?

Many of those questions from that survey linked above resonate, but these previous two I mention are pretty accurate. Growing up, it was often required of me to build up my mother, whether it was to tell her how good she looked for a mom of five kids or to tell her what a great mom she was that she was doing so much for us kids by going to nursing school and taking care of us. It was debatable who was doing the most care of us, but…she was the adult so she gets the credit, I guess.

And even presently, any time she may start to sound like she would empathize with me being a mom of five myself, it often quickly turns into reminiscing about how hard her life was and how much she did for us. Often times she will then bring up one of my siblings that has seven children and then of course, nothing i do is even close to that level and she compares herself to that, too.

So, I guess the point of this post is mostly to help me write out what happened so that over time I don’t start wondering if it was real. If I actually have something to read over that happened in the past the next time it happens (if it does — I’m not so sure I will care to talk to her all that often anymore, because honestly, I am sick of this stuff) and I will know that these things she does are a product of her narcissism and not some flaw of mine, at least in these circumstances.

When these things happen, I’m not going to lie, I wonder what keeps me from becoming like her. I worry so much that I would compare myself to my children (which is SO stupid) or that I would try to one-up them in their feelings or something. I think when I was younger and still trying to figure all this stuff out, that I was prone to behaving like this — I think it was most likely the reason my younger-life relationships didn’t work out so well — and so it scares me that I may dip in and do it again or become that self-absorbed.

I guess it could be true what they say, that knowing and being aware is half the battle. I sure as hell hope so.

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3 thoughts on “Ignored While Not Being Ignored”

  1. First…..Happy Birthday!

    Second……I know you know this, but your kids are awesome.

    Third…..I know sometimes it is nice for people (especially parents, and for women even more so their mom) to validate you as a mom that you “are doing a good job”. Unfortunately in your case and in many, others, that will most likely never happen. And it’s unfortunate not only for you, but your kids as well, as they will never get to experience what could be. But, as a mom, as a friend and as just a woman, let me tell you this. You kick butt at the Mom thing. You kick butt at the faith thing. You especially kick butt at being realistic and truthful with yourself.

    Point of all of this……Keep in mind people do realize and recognize you are an awesome mom, and the best thing about that, is people witness it every day, without you having to toot your own horn so to speak. So in a way (albeit a weird one) your mother did give you a gift (even though it’s REALLY REALLY REALLY hard to see it sometimes). It’s the gift of non-example. You use that gift almost every day. While it is very very hard to reconcile the past, you have done a great job of moving forward. Just keep on keeping on…….and love those babies with everything you have. ❤

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  2. Kelly, thank you. You’re right, of course. And over the years, I have gotten closer and closer to simply accepting what is, as difficult as that is. Whenever I have something I want a mom for, it makes me so sad. Sometimes I call my dad and that helps, but even then…he’s my dad and he’s helpful, but he’s not a mom. Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate them.

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  3. “{K}nowing and being aware is half the battle. I sure as hell hope so.”

    I feel like this very idea/notion is my life preserver when I consider my own parenting vs. how I was parented. Praying for and with you, friend.

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