I just had a very enlightening conversation with my mother. She told me that because she will always be thirty years older than me, always be my mother, and I will always be her child, I will never be equal to her. No matter how old I get, no matter what I do, she will never view me as an equal or of deserving the same level of respect she demands of me given this difference.
How am I supposed to respond to that? What incentive is their for me to care about what she thinks or our relationship if that is flat out the case. She said that no matter what I do she will always view herself as superior to me, that no matter how hard I try, I can’t undo the age difference or the fact that she gave birth to me.
Apparently I’ve had this problem since I was ten, or so she says. There is some truth to that. Throughout my life I’ve always wanted to be older.
Growing up I hated extended family get-togethers. I was the middle cousin, the worst place to be. I was always too old and mature to want to play with the younger cousins, but never old enough to be with the older cousins and the adults. I always had to sit at the children’s table, even when I got into my teenage years. I was always viewed as a child despite my accomplishments and how much I grew. Respect was always demanded, never given.
Needless to say I grew bitter and resentful. It’s never good enough is it? I thought that once I turned eighteen I would get that respect. I could smoke, vote, die in a war, have sex, get married, enter into contracts, and be held legally accountable for my actions. Did I get the respect? Nope. I thought it would happen when I graduated college, once I spent four long years working hard and earning my degree. Did I get the respect? Nope. I now realize I will never get the respect. Apparently I will never be a peer to my mother.
I tried to talk to her and tell her that it’s not that I want to be “superior” to her, it’s just that I want to be viewed as an adult, like her, and treated as such. Unfortunately she would have none of it. She was the mother, I was the child, I would forever be a child and she would forever be my better. End of story. I pointed out that that is a tyranny from which their is no appeal and she responded with “tough.” How am I supposed to respond? How am I supposed to feel about that? Apparently her solution is just accept it and have my own children to whom I can be equally tyrannical in asserting my eternal superiority. I’m sorry, but I’m a better person than that. The buck stops here with me. I’m not going to have children just so I can bitterly enforce the same system on them in some desperate attempt to heal the resentment from having it inflicted on me.
All I’m asking for is respect, yet on this she is absolute and unyielding. I know I will never be older than her, and that I will always be her child, that doesn’t upset me. What upsets me is how she attaches a superiority complex to those facts. The only way I can see to respond is with indifference. You’re going to act like that? Fine, act like that, but I will no longer respect you or take anything you say seriously. I don’t care what you think of me, or if you approve of anything in my life. Why should I? There is no incentive for me to want to care, since I obviously can’t earn respect through my accomplishments or by growing older.