The Awful Moment With My Mom I Hope Never to Repeat With My Children

Mom Moment 55

Have you ever noticed how wonderful and happy memories can be as slippery as dry sand, eventually pouring away between your clutching fingers until what's left is a shadow of that seemingly unforgettable moment, lovely to look at but two-dimensional like a photograph -- while a terrible and humiliating memory forever retains the ability to race physically through your system with the visceral full-bodied punch of the day it happened?

I'm sure there's a neurological explanation for this, how cringeworthy moments are hard-wired to your synapses so they never lose the ability to turn your face red and send your heartbeat soaring all over again. It's unfair as hell, though, isn't it? I couldn't tell you exactly how I felt the moment my babies were pulled from my body -- despite how I believed I'd carry those memories to my deathbed -- but I can still feel with perfect clarity the time I was certain my mother hated me.

It was at least 30 years ago.

I was in fourth grade, I think, and my chronic homework-avoiding habit had caught up with me in a big way. My report card, full of poor grades, had been sent home with me, and after I'd taken a look at all those Ds I decided to hide the evidence. I told my mother a whopper of a lie: every student's report card was late, due to some unfortunate administrative error. She bought my story, but after a few days had gone by and I'd continued to claim there was an ongoing delay with getting our grades, she drove me to the school to find out what was going on.

I waited in the car when she went inside, and it's the only time in my life I can remember resorting to prayer. Please, God, I repeated in my head, over and over. I had no specific solution in mind, I was just hoping against all odds that some deus ex machina would save me.

What happened, of course, is that my mother was informed that all the report cards had gone out on time, and then she learned just how bad my grades had been. It seemed like hours had crawled by as I sat in the backseat of that car -- I can still remember exactly where we were parked, and how my breath came in nervous pants like I'd been running -- but she finally returned. And oh, her face.

It's the memory of her face that brings it all back to me like it was yesterday. Her cheeks were flushed and mottled, her mouth was a thin angry line. She yelled at me, but it was her expression that sunk in and stayed with me for all these decades since. Her humiliation, her anger, her complete and utter disgust with me. I was a disgrace, I was a disappointment, I was bad. There was some sort of punishment, I'm sure, but I couldn't tell you what it was. It was secondary to the sensation of being given up on. My unworthiness had crossed a line and there was no going back, not ever.

I'm finding it hard to even type this. I remember that day and I feel bad all over again. Not regretful -- although yes, that too -- I mean I feel bad. Like a bad person. Damaged goods. Crack me open and you'll find that little girl who never left. She's been whispering in my head for years that I'm a piece of shit, that I don't deserve nice things, that no matter what I accomplish I'll always be a fraud.

Please understand, I'm not saying every stupid mistake I've made can be traced back to that one event. I've never shifted blame away from myself for any of the things I've done or the faults in my character. But I am saying that there are repercussions in how we react to our children when they fuck up. There are echoes that go on and on, like the ringing of some great mournful bell.

I think about that moment a lot, for many reasons. I wonder if it marked the start of what became a broken relationship with my mother -- not an angry one, but distant to the point of near-estrangement. I wonder what made me cling to that stupid lie, even though I knew in my heart it would make things so much worse. I wonder if her reaction was, as was once gently suggested to me, more about her own issues than mine at the time.

But what I really think about are the times I've been completely fed up and angry at my own children, and I wonder: what did my face look like? Was I transformed into something they barely recognized? Did my loss of control translate into a message I never meant to send? Will they remember it forever? (Please, god. Please no.)

Do you have any memories of a bad interaction with your parents that you hope you won't repeat with your kids?

Image via Linda Sharps



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Happy... Happydad73

While I can really appreciate how you feel here since I too carry mental flash freezes of times my mom looked at me like I was the biggest disappointment of her life, I let them go and don't let them color who I am today. It sounds like you may have something else going on that it still hurts you so bad this far down the line. I hope that you are able to work past it, living with open wounds from childhood is devastating.

fave82 fave82

You need to put yourself in your moms place and realize that even though she was mad and disappointed she still loved you. Just as you still love your kids when they do something infuriating. Don't be so hard on yourself.

nonmember avatar Kristen

Oh Linda. This really hits home. I hope I can remember this when I feel myself losing control with my daughter. Thank you for reminding me to be better and not let my anger turn me into someone I don't recognize and hopefully someone my daughter won't remember.
Merry Christmas, I hope you and your family have the best one yet!

Traci... Traci_Momof2

I totally get the concept that you are explaining.  I find that the strongest memories from my childhood (and even adulthood) seem to be the ones that have the most intense negative emotions connected to them.  Whereas the ones even with intense positive emotions, even though I can remember them, there is a certain cloudy curtain over them which just gets thicker as each year passes.  The details fade.  But the details of the negative memories remain vivid.

Strange how our brains work that way.

nonmember avatar Nancy

I do not & will not repeat the mistakes she made with me. The belittling, name calling, beatings, never good enough but she did it cuz she wuz nothing more than a piece of ass & a doormat

nonmember avatar Really

I honestly don't blame your mom for being angry ... and I am sure she was angry because you blatantly lied to her ... not because of your poor grades. She probably wondered where she went wrong in raising you because you LIED to her. I would probably give my kids the same type of look if they blatantly lied to me and made me make a fool of myself, too. Perhaps that makes me a bad mom, but moms are human and they are allowed to have emotions and be angry at their children. I think it's high time you get over it, move on, and stop blaming your mom for the strained relationship you have with her.

nonmember avatar Me

I remember being about 6 or 7 and telling my parents about a boy in my class who liked me. They thought it was funny or cute or whatever and resirted to teading me about it for days. I was so mortified and humiliated, I never told my parents about another boy. That moment scarred me for life lol They never met any of my boyfriends and only heard about my husband a year into our relationship. I neverinvited them to the wedding, I told them we were just going to courthouse and them being a planeride away they didnt feel the need to come. Wh

en we decided to do it in a church instead with about 20 guests I waited just few days before to tell them to make sure they couldnt make it

Obviousy there are other issues too but thats what started it all

the4m... the4mutts

I find this to be really.... for lack of a nicer word, pathetic. You cant get over your mommy being disappointed in you? You still feel like a bad person because of it? Seriously? You need help.

She didn't beat you, she didnt lock you in a closet or something. You deserved to feel bad at the time, but you now need to put on your big girl panties and grow up. Learn, and move the hell on.

Donna Plumley Brubach

Yes.  Only much more horrific.  And I did not make those same mistakes, but I made other ones....

And some of your commenters are douches.


nonmember avatar Erin

OK- ALL of us can relate to remembering the good times as children with our families and friends with a cloudy overcast but the bad times are clear as day. However, in relation to this incident with your mom- cut her some slack. Moms are humans and get mad, scared, anxious and everything else just as surely as women who are not parents. Put yourself in her place: if your child had lied to you and instead of coming clean about said lie, your kid made you go all way down to the school, had you confront some administrator, have it dawn on you that your kid hid something so big from you and lied about it- how would you feel? You would feel like a fool. You would feel like an embarrassed fool, that the administrator is probably thinking, 'Gee- what kind of parent is she that her kid would do something like that?' Your mom probably felt disappointed in you for lying but as a woman and a parent, she felt humiliated. I'm sure you felt (and still feel) terrible about that lie all these years later but I think the key to healing some of this hurt with your mom is to stop making this all about how YOU felt and put yourself in her shoes and imagine how SHE felt. She hurt you? Well, you hurt her, too. I think it's great that you don't want to repeat the mistakes your parents made but I also think it's important to remember that parents are human beings- mistakes WILL be made. Forgive your mother. Then forgive yourself.

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