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Ruby Vee Ruby Vee (Member)

The Mother Who Didn't Like Her Child

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this month's redbook magazine features an article written by "jennifer rabiner" about a mother who admits she's always disliked her daughter. i'm certain that the author's name is not jennifer rabiner, and i can understand why she'd use a pen name -- to admit that you don't like your own child is to be reviled. it's always been a family's dirty little secret.

 

i was probably four when i began to suspect that my mother didn't like me. we were living with my grandparents while my parents tried to set up a business and find a place to live . . . it was one of my earliest memories. the contrast between how my mother spoke to and about me and how she spoke to and about my sister, who was probably two then, was unmistakable. i don't remember a time when i ever believed that my mother liked me or was on my side or that i could go to her to fix anything. nor do i remember a time when i questioned my mother's love of my sister.

 

mother was someone to be avoided, and i tried to fly below her radar as much as possible. having mother notice me was to get hit. often, i didn't know what i had done that was "naughty" and mother didn't bother to tell me. other times, i was getting hit for something my sister had done. if i tried to explain to mother that "i didn't drag the laundry through the mud; rose did", mother would counter with "she wouldn't have done that if you hadn't put her up to it."

 

if rose had a problem at school, it was clearly the teacher's fault (or the other child or the brownie leader or anyone except rose) and mother would march into the school to defend her child and set someone straight. if i had a problem at school -- which was rare, because i worked so hard not to be a problem -- it was assumed to be my fault and mother would call the school to apologize for my behavior without even knowing the details. i heard her on the phone one time -- one of the bullies at school had beaten me up and stolen my lunch money and the teacher called to talk to my parents about it. "i'm so sorry about ruby," mom said. "i don't know what gets into her! clearly, she's no child of mine! she's not like her sister at all." my teacher, who had called my mother in my defense, took me aside the next day and tried to talk to me about my problems at home. i couldn't admit there were problems at home. if my mother had gotten wind of that, she would have beaten me until she could no longer lift her arm. (she did anyway, to punish me for getting into a fight).

 

one day the sunday school teacher asked all of the children in the class what nicknames their parents had given them. my sister's was "rosebud" or "sunshine". as we went around the room, kids sharing nicknames such as "precious" or "little man", i tried desparately to think of a nickname my parents had for me other than "sh!tpot." the only one i could come up with was "you little sh!tpot." or maybe "stupid sh!tpot." of course there was a beating waiting for me when i got home that night as well.

 

the worst thing my parents did to me, though, was convince me that i was crazy for suspecting they didn't like me. not only did i know they didn't like me, but now i had to wonder if they knew something i didn't, and i really was crazy. mom told me one time that "if your friends at school knew what you were really like, they wouldn't like you." i kept so busy trying to keep anyone from knowing what i was really like so they wouldn't dislike me that the friends i did have drifted away. to this day, i expect people not to like me and i'm always surprised when someone does.

 

the day after i graduated from high school, i moved out of my parents' house and it was five years before i went back for an overnight visit. i put myself through college working two or three jobs at a time after my father told me he wasn't going to spend any money on college tuition for me because i was too stupid to make it through. i was up to my eyeballs in debt when i finished, but i did it, and i did it on my own. (they paid my sister's way through four years of a very expensive private college.) when i was about to be married the first time, i invited my parents to meet my fiance's parents, two people who had made me feel smart and pretty and funny and loved. when i introduced them, my mother-in-law commented to my mother that "rose is such a pretty girl." whereupon my mother answered, "yes, and she smart and popular too. not at all like ruby." my mother-in-law quite literally changed my life when she drew herself up to her full height and informed my mother that "my husband and i think ruby is beautiful and intelligent, too, and we love her very much." no one had ever stood up for me before.

 

years have passed, and i'm in my fifties now. mother is in her 80s and suffering from dementia. she knows my name when i call her (although not always, to my sister's chagrin, hers) and she knows i'm her daughter. but i don't think she really remembers who i am. she can't remember anything about my childhood -- all the familiar familiy stories are gone from her memory. she cannot say enough nice things to me and about me, though. "i love you very much," she says. "i've loved you since before you were born." i waited a long, long time to hear that. but i cannot decide how it makes me feel.

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Wow, Ruby. Just....wow. It breaks my heart to know that there are parents who actually say things like this to their children, for no child deserves it.

My husband was one of eleven, plus a twelfth that was adopted later, and his father played favorites; DH was not one of the favorites. He has verbalized some of the same sort of things you have here. I've never been quite sure how to respond other than to say how sorry I am.

Thank you for giving me some more insight into what his world might have been like. Peace to you, and again....thanks for sharing this.

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Ruby, I'm glad your mom is still lucid enough to be able to realize how she wronged you, and to try to make up for it, albeit very late. She must be wracked with guilt, and though I can't find it in my heart to feel sorry for her, I do pity her for the regret she must feel at destroying your precious childhood through her own stupidity.

My husband was the "despised middle child", and although my MIL swears hand, foot and twisted elbow that she had no "favorites" between her children, we all know she did. That preference even spilled over to the way she treats her grandchildren; my kids avoid her as much as possible, as they know quite well she has never loved them in the way she loves her daughter's children. In fact, my daughter hasn't even seen her GM for about 13 years.... Thanks for sharing your story; as always, a thought-provoking, beautifully-composed read.

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Ruby, I'm glad your mom is still lucid enough to be able to realize how she wronged you, and to try to make up for it, albeit very late. She must be wracked with guilt, and though I can't find it in my heart to feel sorry for her, I do pity her for the regret she must feel at destroying your precious childhood through her own stupidity.

as usual goon, i agree with what you wrote.

dementia does NOT mean one turns into a total kook.

it means various parts of the brain, are losing its neuronal function...

and the process that suppresses feeling, is likely losing its function, where 'mom' can't purposely 'forget' it any longer.

so yeah, i do believe mom has remembered her tx of you, and i do pity that realization of how she has acted as a mother.

meanwhile, and throughout, you/ruby have remained the child of eternal hope and persistence.

it also breaks my heart, that you're surprised when someone supports/defends you.

lots of damage there, my dear.

i would seriously consider a reputable therapist, and try to work these things out constructively.

mom's not going to be around a heck of a lot longer, and i'd love to see you get the most out of your time together.

in the meantime, continue to write, as you do it so beautifully.

i pray for you to find respite in your writing, and peace in its conclusion.

that's a journey unto itself.

much love, my friend.:hug:

leslie

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Thanks for sharing Ruby. That kind of upbringing scars you for life doesn't it?

I grew up the "despised middle child" and my mother very clearly favored her first born and her baby and I have no memories of any warm and fuzzy feelings, no hugs, no birthday paties, lots of yelling over spilled milk and messes. My brother and I would share a room and she would stop and give him hugs and kisses and bypass me. When we lived in a home with a basement, I remember being banished there. Once she was out of town talking to my sister, telling her how much she missed her and my sister asked if she missed me, not knowing I was standing right there, so told my sister that no she did not, but missed her. She was an abused child herself and only had so many feelings to go around I suppose. When my sister was in her 40's she admitted she was too harsh in her spankings with me and didn't favor me much. If she regrets any of that, I don't know, but I'm completely 100% free.

It might be sacrilege because society dictates you must honor your parents no matter what, but I don't like her much either. I understand her today and she wasn't a monstor by no means, but don't have to like her.

Didn't mean to highjack.....but this is in the discussion part, not the article part, and I guess you touched a sore spot with me, and all this really was for was to let you know I relate completely.

Edited by Tweety

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Ruby, your story hit home with me as well. I was not the despised child. And I don't think either of my sisters were, but the feelings are familiar. I was raised with "shame on you, you should know better." Well, I did not know better and paid for it with some pretty bad welts on my backside and legs.

I love to read what you write. You are talented and so gifted with painting a mental image. It is incredible how well we turn out in spite, or perhaps to spite those who caused us pain. You certainly are an inspiration.

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Thanks for sharing this Ruby. It touched my heart and brought me to tears. I'm so sorry you had to experience this. I hope you find some peace regarding this part of your life. ((((hugs))))

BTW, you are a very talented writer.

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ruby, i'm glad your mom is still lucid enough to be able to realize how she wronged you, and to try to make up for it, albeit very late. she must be wracked with guilt, and though i can't find it in my heart to feel sorry for her, i do pity her for the regret she must feel at destroying your precious childhood through her own stupidity.

my husband was the "despised middle child", and although my mil swears hand, foot and twisted elbow that she had no "favorites" between her children, we all know she did. that preference even spilled over to the way she treats her grandchildren; my kids avoid her as much as possible, as they know quite well she has never loved them in the way she loves her daughter's children. in fact, my daughter hasn't even seen her gm for about 13 years.... thanks for sharing your story; as always, a thought-provoking, beautifully-composed read.

i doubt that mother is lucid enough to remember how she wronged me. she remembers that i'm her daughter, but she doesn't remember anything from my childhood that i can elicit. like your mother-in-law, she swears up and down that she loves both her daughters and treated us both the same. i think the way she's treating me now is so she can think of herself as a good mother.

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thanks for sharing ruby. that kind of upbringing scars you for life doesn't it?

i grew up the "despised middle child" and my mother very clearly favored her first born and her baby and i have no memories of any warm and fuzzy feelings, no hugs, no birthday paties, lots of yelling over spilled milk and messes. my brother and i would share a room and she would stop and give him hugs and kisses and bypass me. when we lived in a home with a basement, i remember being banished there. once she was out of town talking to my sister, telling her how much she missed her and my sister asked if she missed me, not noing i was standing right there, so told my sister that no she did not, but missed her. she was an abused child herself and only had so many feelings to go around i suppose. when my sister was in her 40's she admitted she was too harsh in her spankings with me and didn't favor me much. if she regrets any of that, i don't know, but i'm completely 100% free.

it might be sacrilege because society dictates you must honor your parents no matter what, but i don't like her much either. i understand her today and she wasn't a monstor by no means, but don't have to like her.

didn't mean to highjack.....but this is in the discussion part, not the article part, and i guess you touched a sore spot with me, and all this really was for was to let you know i relate completely.

i'm guessing i touched a sore spot with a lot of people -- i know it did with many of my rl friends. although i hate that each and one of you went through that, at the same time, i don't feel so alone anymore. so thanks.

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i doubt that mother is lucid enough to remember how she wronged me. she remembers that i'm her daughter, but she doesn't remember anything from my childhood that i can elicit. like your mother-in-law, she swears up and down that she loves both her daughters and treated us both the same. i think the way she's treating me now is so she can think of herself as a good mother.

i do appreciate how you're feeling about your mom's memory, or its lack.

it's interesting, in that there's another poster on an's, whose mom died of complications from advanced alzheimers.

she too, was treated pitifully by her mom when she was a child...

and her younger sister was treated like royalty.

in the late stages of her illness, both sisters took the mom 6 months of ea year, until she died.

but this member was amazed and baffled, by her mom's continual expressions of love and adoration of her...

because she too, had never heard anything remotely positive...

so all this genuine and doting admiration, through her (admonished) dtr for a loop.

i don't know if all alzheimer's dementia is the same in its cumulative damage.

but it certainly seemed with my friend (on an's) that her mom's love and appreciation, was truly genuine...

and not some strategy to make herself feel better.

you'd be surprised how many folks bring lifelong secrets to their graves.

be well, ruby.

you have a great support system on here.

leslie

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Here's a cyber-hug, Ruby. I'm so sorry about your upbringing. (((HUGS)))

I am the only child of a father who abused alcohol. He also used crack cocaine during my early and middle childhood years on and off, so his behavior was volatile at times. In addition, since much of the family money was supporting his substance abuse, the refrigerator and cupboards would be empty, the phone would be disconnected, and the electricity was once cut off. I was a quiet, nonsocial child and my mother occasionally let me know that she was disappointed with the way that I was turning out. Here are some of the things they used to say to me:

-"You're too sorry to cross the street by yourself."

-"You're stupid."

-"You're a *****."

-"Stop eating that. You're going to get fat and ruined."

-"I wish my child could play sports and make me proud instead of telling stupid jokes."

-"I love you, but I don't like you."

-"I'll turn my back on you."

However, my parents swear up and down that none of this occurred during my growing-up years. My main challenge is living in a society that tells you to value your parents above all when they didn't always reciprocate the behavior. It took me a while to realize that I was not stupid or sorry. I now live 1,400 miles away from my parents when many other people in my generation 'boomerang' back and forth to live with their parents. My experiences have led me down a fiercely independent path where I do not want to depend on anyone and make myself vulnerable.

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Ruby, and Commuter,

I have been an admirer of both of you since I started with AN. Your stories have touched me deeply. I don't know what to say except "I'm sorry". You deserved so much better. That you have both come to be such fine, sterling examples of the nurse I want to be is truly a credit to you both.

Hugs,

mc3:nurse:

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