Bitch on the Blog

June 19, 2017

Mum is the word

The moment someone says “You remind me of my mother” is the moment my heart sinks. It’s one of the few black and white situations in life. Grey doesn’t enter the rainbow.

Rarely will anyone say “You remind me of my mother” and glow with the delight of that memory. Because, if you had a wonderful (grand) mother no one compares. No one. So it’s usually said as the ultimate put down. Because, after all, who in life is more important than your mother? Particularly one that didn’t live up to expectation?

It’s a line used in the negative, as a defense and an attack rolled into one. Why? I don’t know. Don’t ask Freud. He’ll give you shit.

The first time it was said to me I was only nine or so – said to me by a grown up man. Don’t ask. Grown ups are not all they think they crook themselves up to be. Still, and grateful to this day, it was one of those enlightening moments as to what to expect from both life and the future.

Today John told me that I remind him of his mother. The blow “You remind me of my mother. She was critical and self righteous” he softened by adding “And her valid points were often lost in those behaviours”. Let’s leave aside that being critical and self righteous are not “behaviours”, they are attitudes. John paid me a compliment – if in a backhanded, yet subtle, manner. “Mother” clearly being some gold standard by which women are measured.

Please do tell me about your mothers. Adopted or otherwise. Those you had, adored or loathed, those you would have liked to be the one and only in your life and those who were just that – your mother. The one you adored. The one who amused you. The one who exasperated you. Maybe all three for the prize of one. Before anyone tells me how “price” is spelled – I meant to say prize.

U

 

 

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26 Comments »

  1. I am often told that I remind people of my late mother. I share some of her facial features as well as some of her characte traits, notably her sense of humour and tenacity of purpose. For me and my three siblings, she was the world and as soon as it was possible for her to walk out of her dysfunctional marriage, she did and till she died spent her time among the four of us and lived like a princess with nothing spared for her enjoyment of life. She travelled the world and exhaustively in India and died as I was holding her hand. Her grandchildren still remember her with great affection and miss her as is obvious from the posts that appear regularly in our family whatsapp group as well as some facebook posts.

    Comment by rummuser — June 19, 2017 @ 13:39 | Reply

    • Ramana, both yours and Looney’s takes make me tearful in recognition and, to some extent, longing. My grandmother died a long time ago. By which I don’t mean to diminish my mother’s mothering. Not at all. She’d say that she doesn’t match her much loved and adored mother’s standards. But then, insert sigh, that’s my mother all over. Always judging herself against an ideal.

      How lovely that you share some of your mother’s “facial features”. “Tenacity of purpose”? That’s a good and most useful tool to pass on. Bred in the bone as it were.

      You held her hand when she died? A lucky mother indeed.

      Considering your father’s decline which I followed on your blog closely with an aching heart (I don’t think I have got what it took you to follow through) you have thrown a new light on your parents’ relationship, namely that she walked “out of her dysfunctional marriage”. It’s one hell of a step to take, even in the “enlightened” Western world, never mind in a country like yours, steeped deeply in so many traditions.

      Your mother is a very lucky woman indeed. As my own once said to me: “As long as we remember someone they are not dead”. How comforting is that, don’t you think?

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — June 19, 2017 @ 14:08 | Reply

  2. No one could possibly compare with my mother and grandmother. Can’t imagine where the expression, “you remind me of my mother” came from.

    Comment by Looney — June 19, 2017 @ 13:43 | Reply

    • In my reply to you and Ramana I should have added “you are lucky sons indeed”.

      Where the expression comes from, Looney? I suppose from disappointment. We all have an ideal – of anything. Walk in someone else’s shoes – anticipation is mine. In other words – when you are given soap do wash first; then blow bubbles with the remnants.

      In fairy tales (and they really are an education and one I wasn’t spared) mothers die only to be replaced by stepmothers. In Germany, if you call someone a “Stiefmutter” you are basically in deepest Brothers Grimm’s land. Abandoned. All the birds have eaten Hansel’s and Gretel’s crumbs. The ones intended to lead them back to paradise. Only to find themselves having to outwit the witch.

      I am very happy for you and Ramana that you had the grand/mothers any child deserves. Both of you credits to your respective mothers’ endeavours.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — June 19, 2017 @ 14:25 | Reply

  3. Mother? The only person in our house allowed to have butter on her bread. Took us along to Church and sent us to Sunday School, belonged to the Mother’s Union and had at least two affairs that I can think of.
    One of my cousins described her as “high maintenance” and questioned how my father had lasted so long……
    Once told me that she didn’t like me (I have to love you. You’re my son.) because I spent a few weekends with my friends Sue and her parents in the nearby town.
    What else?

    Mother suffered from Scleroderma and Reynaud’s Disease/Syndrome. This weakened her heart muscle.. not that oldest sister ever let me know that (she was a nurse). When she had a heart attack whilst staying with us she didn’t ‘phone my school. She phoned my wife’s. She spent time in the ITUand then was discharged to a ward. She then conned everyone into thinking that she was fit enough to travel to North Norfolk and be nursed by her sister (matron of a Local Cottage Hospital)…… meanwhile I was instructed, byher not to inform sister living in Canada and to geton and teach my class and complete the inspection (3 of them on me alone in the school)…. had to inform theinspectors that , when they said I should have been up in Norfolk , I was more scared of my mother than them. Managed to get to see her ont eh Friday and she extracted a promise that I would go over to the Peak District for my sister in law’s 18th birtday party. Which I did, being a good boy. And she popped her clogs on the following day …the day of the party.

    Best comment about her was about both parents: Back ground…. they both died young back in 1970 (Pa) and 1975 (Ma). My youngest sister was on the ‘phone and I enquired after her partner. “He’s in North Wales with his mother.” pause.. “I think we’ve been lucky. We haven’t had to do the old people thing have we?” pause… “Wouldn’t they have been awful old people?”
    The answer has to be yes for so many reasons.

    Apparently I was Mummy’s boy… well I was the only boy.

    As for comparisons……. not with my mother, brainy as she was, but my mother in law…. maybe if I really wanted to be rude.

    Comment by magpie11 — June 19, 2017 @ 14:47 | Reply

    • Magpie, you popped into my mind when I wrote my post and why I nearly didn’t post it. Who needs to be reminded of that which is/was missing, doesn’t quite fulfill expectation?

      As an aside, reference “mothers-in-law”. I had two. They couldn’t have been more different. Yet, both of them, were lovely in their own way. Number One was challenging – to say the least. Beware people who go down with migraine if what life throws at them is just too much to bear on a lovely Sunday afternoon. Her son (first husband) once hit her. Not in my presence. To paint the picture: Son was laid back to the point of horizontal. He also was the eldest (of five). I can’t remember now what it was about but he hit her. A son hitting his mother?

      Mother-in-law number two was English. Surrey. She too died young (relatively by today’s standards). Why did she die young(ish)? I don’t know. Leaving cancer aside I think she just about had it.

      Yes, do remember both of them fondly. No mother-in-law jokes in my front garden.

      What is “a mummy’s boy”, Magpie? Another, peculiarly English, affliction. By way of example, say in Italy,, Mamas rule the roost and the roast; sons stay at home till they find a Mama to their future children and generally do what boys do, intermittently been clubbed round the head – most affectionately – by their mothers. It’s what shouting was invented for. Without wishing to divert the conversation to politics I sometimes think matriarchy is the way to go. Teresa May being sent back to the sand pit to learn manners and how the world works. I won’t stoop so low as to point out that she doesn’t have kids.

      By way of no comfort whatsoever, what both you and my father have in common (apart from the month you were born in) are insufferable mothers. As much as both of them [your respective mothers] might have actually loved you. In their incomprehensible ways. And never knowingly undersold.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — June 19, 2017 @ 15:21 | Reply

  4. Always felt my Mom and Nanna were worthy to be compared to, but you are absolutely right in that when someone compares you to them they somehow always MEAN the most Negative traits, which is rather tragic really since Great Women shouldn’t be measured by comparisons that only point out the Negatives! Great Post… Dawn… The Bohemian

    Comment by Bohemian Valhalla — June 19, 2017 @ 15:10 | Reply

    • La Boheme. Good to hear from you!

      You are right: It is strange, indeed “tragic”, that the negative will get a mention yet the positive often being taken for granted.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — June 19, 2017 @ 20:03 | Reply

  5. You should work for the government..you can spin a negative comment into a positive compliment with consummate ease . You are deluded, have questinable self awareness or as i suspect, just have no idea how rude you can be

    Comment by finlaygray — June 19, 2017 @ 17:40 | Reply

    • Thank you for the compliment, John. There is an art to spinning the negative into a positive. “Consummate ease” is my middle name.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — June 19, 2017 @ 20:26 | Reply

  6. Fuck me!

    Comment by finlaygray — June 19, 2017 @ 20:49 | Reply

    • Not being well versed in the ways of the world you will excuse me from not taking up your offer. Thanks all the same.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — June 19, 2017 @ 20:56 | Reply

  7. Youd be lucky!

    Comment by finlaygray — June 19, 2017 @ 21:10 | Reply

  8. And i mean that more than anything i have said in a long time…………

    Comment by finlaygray — June 19, 2017 @ 21:14 | Reply

  9. i sometimes wish that people would provide links or even better, transcripts, for these types of exchange! If you are going to make a quarrel a matter of public record, make it easy for me to find 🙂
    I wonder if I am the only person who sees the affection you hold for people like Mr Gray. The person who I felt loved by the very most in my life was also the one who told me the ugly truths about myself. He was prepared to risk our relationship for the sake of helping me grow into myself and I will be ever grateful.

    My husband always tells me I’m like my mother when he wants to insult me. For many years it achieved it’s goal but then I recognised it for what it is: lazy and divisive.
    My mum is the most frustrating individual I have ever met but I will be bereft when she goes. And isn’t that the story of nearly every mother on the planet?

    Comment by kylie — June 19, 2017 @ 22:36 | Reply

    • Well, Kylie, if you must, please do look no further than John’s “Gravestone”. I just revisited to monitor further fall out and am surprised at how wordy – to little effect – I was.

      Never mind. It’s finally sunk in that John is a boy, not a man. To be a boy, indeed any child, is fine. In fact it’s marvellous. No one more innocent than a child. However, the adult needs to recognize that most children (not all) take things said to them not only literally but to heart. That’s where an adult’s responsibility kicks in. You don’t cause unnecessary damage.

      John’s fall down, and maybe he should think about it – at least briefly, that he will always cotton on to the negative (as perceived by him) in any comment I make. A couple of my replies in our last exchange gave him such scope and potential to enter jokey banter, the witty repartee he so prides himself on. But, oh no. Po faced more like it. Which is fine, if somewhat limiting. The onus is now (that I have finally sussed him out) on me to keep all lines of communication to the lowest denominator (his). No use trying to accommodate a pint in a quarter.

      To summarize: You are right. I like John, Otherwise why would I bother? Will he ever understand? I don’t know. I don’t believe in the adage of not being able to show an old dog new tricks or opening their eyes to another way of seeing. But then people will surprise you with their limitations.

      Your “person” makes me smile. I have one of those. He is LSF (longest standing friend). Ranks among the three most important people in my life (not counting the Angel whose standing is out of orbit). Yes, so LSF never minces his words. His powers are such that once he didn’t even have to open his mouth. He just looked at me. It was awful. For ten minutes (in the privacy of my own company) I felt destroyed. Tears involuntarily running down my face caused by hitherto unexplored depths of disappointment. Later? Later, within minutes the same evening, we were as always. Of course, in order to achieve that level of friendship, trust – in letters TRUST – is vital. By which I mean: You trust that the other person isn’t out to get you – the other person is there. For you. Bringing their own warts to the mix. Bon appetit.

      I will come back to the subject of the original post with a separate one. Not least because my readers’ comments set me thinking on several angles.

      Always good to hear from you, Kylie, reprimand or not,

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — June 20, 2017 @ 09:14 | Reply

      • Do you have a link to John’s Gravestone?

        Comment by Cheerfulmonk — June 20, 2017 @ 19:03 | Reply

        • I did find the exchange, yes! and thank you

          Comment by kylie — June 20, 2017 @ 22:06 | Reply

  10. My mother… I am what I am despite her.

    My mother-in-law… a wonderful woman who raised 12 kids. Of all her sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, I was her favorite, or so she said not long before she passed. (Of course, she could have said that to the others, too.) I first met her 45 years ago, just a couple of weeks after Karen and I were married.

    I could never tell anyone they reminded me of my mother, even if it were true. If I were to tell someone they reminded me of my mother-in-law, it would only be as a compliment.

    Comment by Mike — June 20, 2017 @ 03:14 | Reply

    • Sorry to hear about your mother, Mike. The expectation of a wonderful mother – the one all of us deserve – comes part of the innocent parcel we are when pushed into a not always benign world.

      My first debt of gratitude that my mother didn’t abort me. I was conceived (and born) out of wedlock when that still caused raised eyebrows. Not quite on par with a friend’s (his mother is Irish) likening his mother’s experience to that of the “Magdalene Sisters”. So, I thank her – in more ways than the obvious – that she, literally, gave me LIFE.

      No one has likened me to my mother in a disparaging way. My mother – like your mother-in-law – is a nice person. One who adores her assorted sons-in-law. Took her years to forgive me for divorcing her favourite.

      To be continued …

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — June 20, 2017 @ 09:31 | Reply

  11. I’m nothing like my mother, except that we both have poor memories. She is so unlike me in every respect, including her political opinions, that if she wasn’t my mother, we would have drifted apart a very long time ago. I think she finds me as baffling as I find her.

    Comment by nick — June 20, 2017 @ 12:57 | Reply

    • Poor memory? Well, you most certainly can’t accuse my mother of that. My father and I often joke that once she is gone no one will know what happened when and, to me more important, why. Mind you it’s getting out of hand. The other day she read me various letters and emails (her brother had just died leaving her the only survivor of seven siblings – her being number five). Such is her obsession with time and dates that every missive, before she read it to me, was given the exact time – to the second in case of emails. Those are the moments I am so very happy that she can’t see me (on the phone). Cue: Rolling eyes, stifled sighs.

      If someone asked me what I have, as you mention, “in common” with my mother I’d say one of the overriding to be that we are both given to sentiment, sentimentality, a love of memories of old, love of family and theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee most dark sense of humour. The latter to be found and refined the further you go East and North in Europe. Eyewateringly dark. What I am not – and I can only explain this away by my mother being the middle child with many brothers – is a tease. I don’t mean a sexual tease, I mean teasing people mercilessly. Needling. And then, when she has got you where you can’t escape, she’ll give you that smile. Oh will I miss that little smirk one day!

      Back to your mother. She, like those of my other readers, conjures up many a vision. Do you ever wonder what she thinks sitting there by herself, maybe tallying up the way she has lived her life, maybe with many a regret in full knowledge that it’s too late to make amends? It’s the part of old age I dread the most … Namely knowing that the days you can just tear out a blemished sheet of paper and start again are over. You once said that you are a fairly tactile person. Maybe, in a moment not forced, just hold her hand or hold her by her elbow, stroke her hair, give her a kiss on the crown of her head. Whatever a moment may offer. No need to say anything. She will die a happier woman. Should she, abruptly, withdraw my heart goes out to you. Old habits die hard. Main thing in life to do how we want to be done by.

      Affectionately,
      Ursula

      Comment by bitchontheblog — June 20, 2017 @ 15:31 | Reply

      • My mother is quite a tactile person too, and we do touch and hug each other a lot. I also hold her by the elbow, but that’s because she’s very unsteady on her feet and needs a supporting hand.

        As for memory, the odd thing is that my sister has a photographic memory and can remember absolutely everything, going back decades. She often tells me things about myself that I’d completely forgotten.

        Comment by nick — June 23, 2017 @ 21:54 | Reply

  12. I clearly inherited my genes from my mother – simply look at the photo ofus together on facebook. That said, we did not get along well the last 10 years of her life because she lied to me about my birth father – saying he had died when in fact she just did not want me to look for or cotact him. So there is nobody I know that I would say reminds me of my mother.

    Comment by Chuck McConvey — June 23, 2017 @ 20:59 | Reply

    • My dear Chuck, it’s been days. Please don’t feel neglected.

      What your mother did may seem unforgivable, yet so often we do things “for the best”. Best for for others, best for our children and, of course, for ourselves. I do believe some of us do walk narrow tight ropes in our lives. The sort of rope designed to save, and hang ourselves with. Luckily I have not personally experienced a dilemma which questions our own ethics and makes us come up gasping for air in our nightmares. But I have seen it, at close quarters. And, oddly, both involve paternity and ensuing silence. You have suffered heartache; as your mother will have done. I can barely imagine the emotional agony she went through, the conflict. She is dead now. I hope you’ll be able to, not so much forgive, as to just acknowledge that she loved you and paid a price for her deception.

      Hug,
      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — July 2, 2017 @ 11:06 | Reply


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