Dear Annie: I'm a 40-something divorced mother of two and grandmother of five. I have wonderful relationships with my children and grandchildren. Sadly, the same cannot be said of my relationship with my mother.
This woman has not liked me from the time I was a teenager. Although I was not perfect, I was not a rebellious teen and did very well in school and sports. I always tried to be respectful of authority.
When I became engaged to my now-ex-husband, my mother made her hatred for me even more noticeable. She despised the fact that my partner's family members were God-fearing, churchgoing Christians. They never once had anything bad to say about my mother. She even refused to attend my wedding. Needless to say, I was heartbroken. She will not acknowledge my children or grandchildren.
She has been married several times and is currently married to a wonderful man. She does not treat my siblings this way at all. In fact, she is a warm, caring mother to them.
Annie, I would do anything for this woman. I've tried to talk to her about this, but she always says that I'm the horrible one, that she has done nothing wrong and that nowhere is it written that a mother has to love her daughter.
My friends and family tell me that she doesn't deserve my love, that the relationship is toxic and that I should just let it go. My head tells me they are right, but my heart will always want my mom to love me.
Do I walk away or still try to fight for something that most likely will never happen? -- Motherless in the Midwest
Dear Motherless: It is, in fact, written that a mother should love her children -- and in the best-selling book of all time, no less: the Bible. (If you're interested, see Titus 2:4, as well as 1 John, which commands us to love one another universally.) It's too bad your mother is so averse to reading Scripture. She could use its lessons.
Your friends and family are right that her behavior is toxic and that the best thing for you to do would be to distance yourself. It will always be hard, but your head must be a friend to your heart and keep reminding it of the truth. Your mom has her limitations, for whatever reason; this is as much as she can give you. I'm sorry she's been so cruel to you. It's truly her loss.
For all the love and warmth your mom hasn't shown you, you seem to have made up for it in spades with your children and now your grandchildren. Focus on those mother-daughter relationships, which will bring your heart joy for years to come.
Dear Annie: I read the column with the letter from "Needing a Break in Pensacola," whose siblings seem to expect him or her to always look after their mother. I went through this when my mom had a stroke that had her bedridden. Every six weeks or so, when I could put together a week off work, I drove 500 miles to stay a week with her and my dad to help out. One trip, my husband came with me, and we did all sorts of helpful things for Mom and Dad. Several of my siblings were there, too. My husband and I took one day just for ourselves, and when we returned at day's end, the siblings acted as if we had done something awful.
You're right; caregivers must look after themselves, or they will be of no help to anyone. -- Been There, Too
Dear Been There, Too: Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm printing it here so "Needing" and any other caregivers who have been similarly guilt-tripped will know they're not alone.
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