Mother’s Day Blues
So much has been written about the complexity of the mother daughter relationship. Generally, it’s from the perspective of the daughter who never got her needs met from her mother. But what about the mother whose daughter seemed oppositional from the time she came out of the womb? In fact she was so oppositional that she didn’t even want to come out. Her mother labored for 21hours, until they finally did a cesarean to get her out.
This girl, whom I will call Willow, was combative from the day she was born. She came into the world kicking and screaming, and decades later; she’s still kicking and screaming.
So, what does this say about nature vs. nurture? Willow’s three siblings seem to be loving, high-functioning individuals. Are we born with a particular temperament? I believe that we are.
Willow has always spoken her mind to the point of being incredibly cruel to others, especially her parents and siblings. From very early on, it seemed that Willow was pretty much addicted to being angry. Not a day went by when she didn’t have disparaging things to say about someone.
So, how do parents deal with such a child, who seems to cause chaos wherever she lands? Willow’s parents poured love into her, but none of it seemed to soften her up. Her barbs kept everyone close to her, at arm’s length. The one who got the brunt of it was her mother. Willow would wait until they were in a car and she would spew her venom at her mother, holding her physical and emotional hostage.
Mother’s Day has been a particularly difficult time for Willow’s mother. The day is almost always ignored by Willow, who feels entirely justified in doing so.
I have worked with Willow’s mother (who I will call Diane). Diane is quite heartbroken at the lack of acknowledgement from Willow on Mother’s Day. As her therapist, it is difficult to try to help her feel anything but bad. So, each year, she goes through the pain, over and over again. It is a constant reminder of the rejection Diane felt as a child. As a therapist, all I can do is be a source of support for Diane, who tends to blame herself for Willow’s bad behavior. So, is it Diane’s fault? I don’t really think it is. Perhaps she could have set more limits, and had stronger boundaries, but I’m not sure how much that would have helped. Sadly, some people just come into the world who they are, and instead of adjusting to others, they want everyone to adjust to them.