the “i hate you” club

by ck on February 3, 2014

Dear Mom,

It’s here. It’s finally arrived. My acceptance card to the “I Hate You” Club. It’s taken nearly 27 years for my membership to be approved. 27 years. And I have to say it was infinitely more satisfying to be on the other side of the application process. Remember how adamant I was about fairness when I was 9-years-old and started filling out the forms? The ease with which I dissected and twisted your words into what I wanted them to be? And how by the end of a fight neither of us had any clue what I was saying, we just wanted to see who exhausted first? Of course you do. And now I understand it, too.

I’m sorry.

I hated how quickly you forgot what was “important” to me. How you didn’t take in all the little details I shot at you while you were falling asleep on the couch. Now I understand that forgetting is an important defense mechanism of motherhood. If we stored every last piece of child-dictated information, we’d also have space to shelve every hateful sentiment. Only our brains can’t always sort good from bad fast enough, so they shut down. Which means a lot of forgetting.

I’m sorry.

I hated you for what you kept me from doing. I really and truly thought it was about you not trusting me. Now that I’ve been personally attacked with that very same allegation, I understand that only an idiot would’ve trusted me. I had no idea how the world really functioned. How unsafe I was, and how many risks I was taking for no reason. I had been so completely loved and taken care of that I assumed it was something I did, not something you were doing. I had no clue that “being happy” was directly tied to being protected from the very things I reached for. I’d say again that I was an idiot, but I think we’ve already established that.

I’m sorry.

I now understand that you weren’t mocking me with those looks of surprise and disbelief. You were actually just shocked at the contradictions spewing out of my mouth, and couldn’t wrap your thoughts around them fast enough to translate them into common sense. Did I listen to what I was actually saying? Because clearly a sane person wouldn’t fight for things that were doomed to failure at best. All those years. All those principles I created. And it turned out that the disconnect between us wasn’t premeditated, it was the direct result of me choosing possible pleasure over logic.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for using the word “hate” so freely. At the time I had no idea what the word actually meant. At 36 I have a better understanding of the sentiment, but I still don’t understand it as deeply as I claimed to all those years ago. But I do know that what I actually felt was anger because I wasn’t given my way. And for that I thank you. It wasn’t easy to stand up to me. I was a reckless menace to myself, and you were the only one who saw that. Actually, I was probably the only one who didn’t see that, but you remained firm, standing in the gap between what I thought I wanted, and where you knew I was headed.

And I’m so sorry for the times when the word “hate” wasn’t enough. For the shuns and the slams and the times I left the room –or house–angry. I now know that it hurt you just as much as I hoped it would. You may have even cried when I stormed off, just like I wanted you to. And felt worse than I ever did. Because your pain was tangled up in a love much deeper than I was capable of feeling. A love it’s taken me 36 years, one marriage, two children, and many losses to start comprehending.

So here I am. Club card in one hand, heart in the other. I always thought that having granddaughters would bring you some kind of karmic retribution. But once again I misjudged you. This card has made me aware of the other sides of love that come with parenting. And I know that my struggles won’t validate you for the years I was tough. You won’t smirk when I share my stories over the phone because I can’t see your face and you’re really good at maintaining that serious, counselor voice even when you want to smile. You won’t sip your tea in the quiet living room between chuckles, congratulating yourself for surviving.

No, you’ll wait to raise your cup of tea until I’m a grandmother and can raise mine back. I’ll bring the chocolate and we can smirk together. You’ll wait for me, right?

Your Properly Humbled Daughter




{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Georgie February 3, 2014 at 12:57 pm

So… that just brought tears to my eyes on a packed commuter carriage. Thank you for this, it has made me pause to evaluate my own behaviour to my Mother. And the circle of life continues.


ck February 4, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Life continues in strange ways, doesn’t it? I’ve been evaluating my past behavior a lot these days. Who am I kidding? That pretty much started the moment I had kids. Funny how that happens.


Noellam February 3, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Nice post. For me, it’s “You are ruining my life, Mom.” I’d love for my 12-year-old to read it, but I don’t think he’s going to understand.


ck February 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm

You’re definitely not alone! I’m sure I’m not far away from that sentiment. I can see it scroll across their eyes as I start formulating the thought “No.”


Gigi February 3, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Yeah, we REALLY don’t get it until our kids show us just how we were way back then.
Gigi´s last blog post ..And for once I can honestly say, “I CAN’T wait for Super Bowl Sunday!”


ck February 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I wonder how long it would take me to get to these realizations if I’d decided not to have kids. Do you think it’s something that comes with age, regardless of the life path chosen?


thekitchwitch February 4, 2014 at 8:01 am

Oh no! You got the “h” word? I’m so sorry. The good news? You got a brilliant post out of it. This was terrific, Cindy. xoxo


ck February 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Love you, Kitch!


Jane February 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Like a dagger in the heart. I remember the first time the “h” word was hurled at me. Fortunately, I only remember the one time. We had a long talk about the power of words and maybe it worked. Or maybe, I just have selective memory because the moment was so traumatic. In any case, I wish for you that this will be a one and only time you’ll hear it.
Jane´s last blog post ..Sometimes You Just Have To Stop And Look At The Ducks


Dawn @What's Around the Next Bend? February 10, 2014 at 12:55 am

I haven’t experienced that yet… maybe it’s that I have boys… or their age… I have been given the death glare and the silent treatment, but not the dreaded “h” word. I already know that it will be said some day, some time. I’m not looking forward to it.
Dawn @What’s Around the Next Bend?´s last blog post ..If I go insane, now you’ll know why


Tiffany February 11, 2014 at 6:13 am

That was beautiful. You also understand, now that you’re a mother, that she loved you with her whole heart even at your worst.
Tiffany´s last blog post ..Olivia’s IEP


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