I had low self-esteem as a kid. My mom worked hard to fix it. One of the things she use to make me do was say at least once a day, “Every day I’m getting better and better in every way.” Yeah, I hated it then too.
The year I claimed myself was probably the worst year of my life. Sure, there was my senior year in high school when I became suicidal, but I crawled out of that dark spiral and found a new stride. Sure, in college I was stalked for several months by an ex-boyfriend, and I knew if someone didn’t intervene, I end up dead, but I had great classes, great friends, and a lot of great memories of that year. Sure, 2010 my marriage imploded, and I went through a zombie week plus all kinds of emotional pain, but that was the year I had Aidan, which really makes up for the other sh*t. So my 7th grade year was the worse year of my life. I was bullied, picked on, tormented, and all sorts of things I repressed until I put an end to all that. That was the year I got my period and my first bra and puberty hit me hard with a clumsy, awkward phase. The only bright spot is getting an A+ in math, which just shows what a crappy year that was. But I learned from it.
Now Evan is having a hard time with friends. Something about his quick-temper and often poor attitude, which would be forgiven if he would just play sports. Which he won’t because obviously, I’m raising a nerd. And the ex and my mother are beside themselves, trying to fix it. And I won’t let them.
As a parent, I remind him to do something kind every day. I am trying to teach him how to control his anger and to shake off a bad day. But I will not interfere with his social life because my mom interfered with mine.
She was always full of advice. Just hang out with them. Ask them if they want to come over. Ask if you can play with them. Talk about what they want. Tell them some jokes. Here, take extra cookies to share. You know what that did? It opened me up to fresh hell. And now I was be bullied and my mom was disappointed I wasn’t following her advice. Clearly.
The more I think about my childhood, the more I listen to how my mother talks to me.
You could stand to lose a few pounds.
You’re just not firm enough with your kids.
Stand up straight. Suck in your belly.
Are you really hungry enough to eat a whole hamburger?
Hmm, those jeans are snug.
I have never seen your house clean.
When I was your age, I was going to school too and kept my house clean.
Of course I understand being home alone with three kids, your father was a police officer.
You should exercise more.
I don’t think you wanted to be a writer because you would have been writing this whole time.
My dad is justifying that my mom is in a lot of pain and doesn’t sleep well because of the anti-cancer pills. But I don’t think that’s it. And my dad has reminded me that when I was growing up my mom had horrible PMS. But I don’t think that’s it either. Because when I was in college, she didn’t have cancer and she was given Prozac for PMS, and every Sunday night my first semester, she made me cry.
You see, I didn’t get a job my first semester. I waited a week to get my feet underneath me, and by then, all the campus jobs were taken. I needed a job on campus. Every week I reported my failure with my weekly call. Every week my mom would scold me and admonish me, and I would hang up the phone crying because I was a failure.
A month into the cycle, a guy friend learned of this and began to beg me not to call home. “Just don’t call, Fae. You don’t need this. She doesn’t have the right to make you cry.” “But I have to call home. I have to.” Once he realized it was pointless to stop me, he began showing up in my room 20 minutes into the call, so that I had an excuse to hang up. From there, he would cheer me up.
I wonder much tearing down did my mother do as she was trying to build me up.
And how do I deal with her now?