After writing about My Beautiful Mother yesterday, it might be a good idea to write about The Other Mother. In a hat. The one she made herself without following the pattern.
I don't want anybody to get the fluffy notion CZ romanticizes all woman or believes all women should avoid plastic surgery. In rare cases, plastic surgery is a good idea. If the government is serious about protecting the public like they say they are, taxpayer monies ought be allocated for special cases of national insecurity. Like the Other Mother. The one who pretends she's beautiful when she's not. The one who eats children for breakfast and expects to be glorified for her martyrdom. After all, she had to stoke her own fire, wash the pan and peel the onions herself.
All kidding aside (and yes, it's been a rude awakening to find out women are just as aggressive, needy, manipulating and narcissistic as any maN could ever be), people are reluctant to talk about women who are narcissistic, nasty and vile enough that their children never feel good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough to earn the love only a mother can 'give'. But 'giving' she is not...only faking and taking and soul-breaking.
I knew a mother like this and it makes me shudder just remembering what it was like for my friend who was forced to give her mama flowers after church on Mother's Day. I felt for her and even though I couldn't fathom what she was experiencing, I knew what I was feeling. Like ripping the petals off the geranium and throwing it in her mother's lap. But what did my friend do?? She kindly gave her mama flowers and acted as if their relationship was perfectly normal. Which it was NOT.
I figure most of us can remember certain mothers if we think about our childhoods and all the friends we had growing up. Even if our mother was not narcissistic, there were at least one or two in every group who had the 'other mother' and lacked words to describe invalidation. So maybe writing about The Other Mother is still better late than never. It alleviates my sadness for not knowing how to tell my friend her mother was terrible. It's hard when we learn about pathological narcissism and connect-the-dots to friends who were isolated with crazy pareNts who could not get outside themselves long enough to see a child, not an object. I may have lacked adequate words and understanding when I was ten years old. But I don't lack for words now.
Anna Valerious's blog, Narcissists Suck, focuses on the Narcissistic Mother. It's not a comfortable read because saying bad things about mamas is a social no-no. Especially in a culture revering motherhood as a glorified status of irreproachable sanctity. The child ought not be earning mother's love. The mother ought be earning her status as mother; but parenting roles are reversed in narcissistic families and the child is expected to pareNt the mother.
"If you can allow yourself to admit when another person is dangerous or destructive...then accepting they are what they are is essential if you are going to ever be able to protect yourself from them." ~Anna Valerious
Important words that sound easy but they aren't. Breaking social taboos hindering our ability to see reality as it is, can be a gut-wrenching exercise conquering fears we don't even know are making us easy targets for the narcissist's refuse. Anna will always be able to say this better than myself since my mother is not a narcissist. But what sets The Other Mother apart to me, is her inability to see her children as human beings. Not objects, not competition, not puppets to be manipulated for a grand presentation with Mama bowing to public applause. We can thank her for sacrificing nine months of her life and going through that gawd-awful labor but being called Mother is a title she must earn. I know this because my kids made me earn every mother's day card they ever gave me. Labor pales in comparison to the work of mothering.
By the way, there's an insightful article on the web that's well-worth reading. The author lists 25 Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers. "The Destructive Narcissistic Parent creates a child that only exists to be an extension of her self. It's about secret things. It's about body language. It's about disapproving glances. It's about vocal tone. It's very intimate. And it's very powerful. It's part of who the child is."