When I first came out of my mother’s womb and gazed into the eyes of the woman who gave me life, I really felt a connection with her. But like so many children, I was actually misreading basic signals that my mother just wasn’t into having a traditional maternal relationship with me. My mom just wanted us to be friends. That’s right—I was put in the “friend zone” by my mom.
I couldn’t believe it. How did I get here again—with my own mom, no less? I thought there was something special there, so I wasn’t concerned when she wanted to take things slow. She’d let go of my hand when we’d pass other daughters in the supermarket, or cheer for other kids at my soccer games. Which don’t get me wrong, that’s super nice and has its own merits; I was just hoping for something a little more, you know, motherly. Is that too much?
I’ve always been one of the nice kids—much better than the other douchebags she’d cut the sandwich crusts off for at playdates—and I just had to keep relentlessly showing her this until then, like giving her my homemade macaroni art every week and using a coaster for my Capri Sun. I knew that all my efforts would pay off in a regular, healthy, appropriate mother-daughter relationship eventually. Or at least that was what I thought, until I started noticing the obvious signs. For example, she would always leave a note inside my lunch, but would avoid the typical mom-like signoffs, opting instead for “Miss you, bitch!!! Let’s hang soon.” We went to the mall together every time I needed a new pair of pants, but she would never join me in the stall. Instead, she’d make excuses like “Ugh, I can’t, I’m too jelly. You are soooo thiiiin!!!” Looking back on it, it’s hard to believe I fooled myself into thinking she could actually be interested in a mother-daughter relationship, especially when I was sick with the flu and she refused to call me in sick, instead preferring to suggest we “play hooky and go to the mall.” It was clear: My mom saw me as nothing more than a gal pal. If only she would give me a chance…
The real kicker was when I called home after my first week at college. At the end of that phone call, for the first time, I told her I loved her, and she got really quiet and uncomfortable. That’s when I knew our relationship was never going to be the way I had always imagined. After a long pause, she said, “OMG, I luv you too, girl!” The “u” and absent “e” were clearly audible, and they spoke volumes. The message was driven home: I would never do anything to inconvenience and frustrate her in a way that mirrors her own personality quirks, which makes it easy to get angrier, but also creates a bridge of understanding. I’d only ever borrow vintage clothes from her and get stains on them in a drunk friend way, never in a raid-mom’s-closet, “you’re in trouble, missy” way. We’d only ever share drinks because we wanted to taste each other’s mango margaritas, never because we shared immunity. I was heartbroken.
It became clear that I had to give up on this mother-daughter relationship. She was never going to feel the familial love I wanted from her and after a lot of therapy, I realized I didn’t want to waste my time on someone who didn’t feel the same way about me.
Looks like nice children really do finish last.