And so that sentiment kind of became a theme that my mom used to manipulate me as I got older. I continued in my persuit of sports and more outdoorsy activities, rather than home-based interests. I have never liked cooking, baking, cleaning, or typically housewife/homemaking types of activities. My mom would frequently make comments to me or about me, such as, if you don’t learn/do XYZ, you’ll never find someone to marry you,” or “how will you ever find a husband if you don’t like to cook/clean/iron, etc.? or I don’t have to worry about her getting married.” Maybe these are seemingly silly comments, but as a young teenager, I just believed her, and I believed that no boy or man would ever have any interest in me. I believed that if I didn’t cook, clean, and take care of a man then I had no value as a woman or couldnt be loved as a wife. So I was shocked and surprised when eventually guys were interested in me romantically, despite all of my shortcomings. And for a long time, I felt that I wasn’t worthy of men’s attention and affection, and that I could never be “wife material” to them. Sometimes I entered into or stayed in relationships with men because, how could I be so lucky to find someone willing to love me, when I have nothing to offer that a “good wife” offers her man? Who else would ever want me? I am married to a good man who loves me and my bad cooking and have kids of my own now, but I still fight these thoughts on a daily basis that I am not good enough to be a wife and a mother. Even when I got married, I remember my mom expressing how surprised she was that I was getting married, that I found a husband who would “put up” with me, etc. and I really have to fight the Diver Oh what fun it is to dive Christmas shirt besides I will buy this feeling that I don’t deserve to have a good husband or deserve the wonderful life we live together. Also, my mother was very young- a teenager- when she had me, so I think growing up, I was treated as a refection of her, of her parenting skills- I was proof that, even though she was so young, she could do it. So my mom was strict, and I dare not ever get out of line. That, in itself, is not really a big deal- many kids have strict parents, and that’s ok. But my mom influenced my behavior through fear and shame.
So growing up, I walked a fine line. I was a model student, always well behaved and high achieving- only because I had a sense of fear of my mom and what could happen if I let her down. I’ve always joked that my mom was the Diver Oh what fun it is to dive Christmas shirt besides I will buy this original “helicopter parent”- she was involved in everything I did, volunteered at all my school functions, controlled who I could or couldn’t be friends with, the music I listened to, shows I watched, etc. I remember begging her, just once, to let me go to a school dance alone with just my friends, without her there, and her asking me accusingly, “Why? What are you planning to do that you don’t want me to be there for?” Although I’d never been in trouble- not even minimal missed-a-homework-assignment trouble, I was made to feel that I could never be trusted, that I couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to make sound decisions for myself. I never was able to confide or openly talk to my mother about life, questions about growing up, issues I faced with friends or the opposite sex or anything- because I always feared getting in trouble or being put on lock-down if my mom didn’t like the way something sounded. Even something as simple as, “Can I start shaving my legs?” at the age of 12 was enough for my mom to question who I was hanging around with and where was I getting these ideas, and maybe I need to find new friends, etc. Mind you, we were/are a typical western family living in the US Midwest in a midsize city- not particularly religious or anything. So as you might imagine, after being shut down for simple requests like shaving my legs and armpits, other, more controversial topics were definitely off the table. So when I was older and faced sexual assault, my mother was not someone I could trust to confide in, and it’s been a secret I’ve kept from her for decades. By all accounts, I’ve lived a wonderful life, I have fond memories of childhood, and I’ve accomplished much in my life- so maybe my mother’s methods really were for the best. But these specific, pervasive and continual comments and behavior by her have had a cumulatively negative effect on my own views of myself as a young adult.