Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My mom (has no grasp of reality)

It's kinda surreal to talk to my mom, who is so deep in denial that she has created an imaginary world in which I'm not getting married. We just had the following conversation: (tenuous connection to reality part in bold)

*blah blah stuff about job interview, got to talking about the housing market near where my parents live*
mom: Yeah the housing market is really bad, but I think it's going to get to it's lowest point next year and then start going up after that

me: well that's great, cause I'm planning on buying a house next year or the year after!

mom: well banks aren't giving out mortgages as much, and you need to have money in savings to have a big downpayment

me: well between the two of us we have close to $XX,XXX in savings...

Mom: Nah you don't want to buy a house. You should get a condo! That would really be better for you and what you need

Me: Yeah but I want a house- I'm probably going to have kids in a few years, and arn't condo's usually apartments? I want a place that I can keep for a bunch of years that has enough room for kids

Mom: Yeah you don't want a house, you want a condo. How are you going to take care of a house all by yourself? What are you going to, go out and mow the lawn by yourself?

me: [suppressing comments about gender roles]: But I'm not going to be living by myself, I'm going to have a husband, remember?

mom: whatever, we can't talk about that

me: Well...he's still going to be around..

mom: well we can't talk about that stuff, because then there's just bad feelings and we shouldn't talk about that

me: well, I get bad feelings when we DON'T talk about him. Plus is it really a good idea to just deny reality like that?

mom: well it's not denying reality, I just don't want to talk about it. if you want to talk to me then you can't talk about him ever

me: .....

mom: well I have to go put some clothes in the dryer, have a good night, bye

Over the past two months I've talked to my mom on the phone 3 times. The first was right before rosh hashana- I called her to wish her a happy rosh hashana. I deliberately called her while I was walking to my class, so that I could only talk to her for a few minutes. This was after several months of not calling or talking to her at all (the last time before being when I called to say I was engaged).

I talked to her for all of 3 minutes that first time, didn't mention B, and at the end she was like "Well, I'm really happy you called, it was good to hear from you."

So of course that immediately sent me into fantasies, whereas since she said she was happy I called that means one day she would accept me and B. Since she didn't hate me enough to not pick up the phone.

See how I just set myself up for disappointment there?

Anyways, the next conversation set me straight when I mentioned something about wedding dress shopping and she talked over me. But just because I hate myself, I thought I would give her a call and another chance today. And then the above ensued.

Also when I mentioned that I got the interview, and the school it was at, she was all "why would you want to work THERE." Great mom. Not sure if that's just because she's a bitchy person in general, or because she sucks at being a mom, or because she doesn't want me to live near her.

Anyways, I guess I have nothing to say to her anymore, since in order to talk to her I have to pretend like B doesn't exist. Can I return this mom and get a new one?


  1. I have yet to see a woman mow a lawn

  2. I don't have a lawn, but I did mow the lawn when I was a kid. And honestly, if I had a lawn, it would probably be me and not b who mowed it- I'm much more into outdoor-type things than he is. :)

  3. A mom-daughter sour relation is neither a new nor an uncommon phenomenon, but you almost mastered the art of meanness.

  4. I sure do.
    Your nastiness is not so apparent from your last post, although you should be more sensitive and not raise an issue that causes her pain. This is true to every person and ever more so to your own mother who raised you until you were old enough to think for yourself.
    In earlier posts you discuss emails you sent your father. Those messages are simply cruel.

  5. Hey, AE, you're not alone out there. I just got a terrible e-mail from my Mom. She blamed me for everything. She's just completely lost... this religious fundamentalism is going to ruin her life if she doesn't get some professional help.

    I actually don't think you're mean at all. You were nice to you mom on the phone. It's OK to vent here on the blog - that's the right place for it.

    I would suggest you and your mom get together on a biweekly basis with a therapist that lives somewhere in between the two of you. I wish I had that option myself.

  6. Sometimes, girl, you just have to move on.
    That is what I've pretty much had to do with my mother and it has nothing to do with religion.
    And yet, denial is part of it for her as it is for your mother.
    Just remember all of this when you have children and remember how much they will always need you and your love and approval.
    Because we all do need those things from our mothers. No matter how old we are.

  7. @ (person with hebrew name):

    II don;t read Hebrew so I can't phonetically spell your name, but it's pretty ovbious this is directed at you.

    You're clearly deluded and so indoctrinated by either religious rhetoric or the cultural ethnocentrism present amongst some commenters here.

    I'll keep this brief and simply highlight the favorite quote:

    "although you should be more sensitive and not raise an issue that causes her pain."

    So AE should never speak abnout her friggin husband?!?!? AE's mother is so in the wrong here and you blame AE for having the audacity to marry a non-Jew (God forbid!) and then simply want to inform her mother baout the progress of that union.

  8. It is tough, but you will have to accept the fact that your mother won't change and will probably never accept B. Move on!

  9. Wow...I'm sorry that you're getting all this crap from people who think you are being mean.

    I would argue that nobody is being mean here. You are reasonably upset over your mother's decision to place her religion before her daughter. Your mother is simply doing what she believes is right. Unfortunately, it sucks for both of you.

    I think it is unfortunate that your mother can't place you first. You have every right to be hurt and angry.

    Hang in there. Who knows what will happen?

  10. "you should be more sensitive and not raise an issue that causes her pain"

    This is NOT what you should do. There's no way that you can take care of all of your mother's needs, nor should you have to. You only need to take care of yourself and be as kind and compassionate to other people as you can. But that does not mean doing so at your own expense.

    Not being offended by others is not a right.

  11. That just sucks. Your mother's got issues.

    And HH, I have seen a woman mow a lawn. So there. ;-)

  12. A) I have seen a woman mow the lawn (oddly enough in a jogging bra and a surgical mask).

    B) AE, I really am sorry for how this whole business is working (or rather, not working) out between you and your mother.

    I have no idea how or if the two of you can have a relationship. If and when you have children, and if and when they choose a path of which you disapprove, remember this experience.

    Good luck.

  13. I’m surprised that I’m a lone voice here. None of you can appreciate the value of sensitivity? In an age where the truth must be twisted to politically correct so as not to offend any group, shouldn’t there be enough decency not to hurt somebody personally? So what if that somebody lives in a cocoon of delusion and refuses to acknowledge reality? That doesn’t mean you should enlighten her forcefully. Would you discuss a blunder with your colleague if she is the one responsible for the mess?

    Your decision traumatized your parents. (It doesn’t matter if their fanatic intolerance is at fault.) Self denial is not always a bad thing. Self denial is a psychological self-defense mechanism. Sometimes reality is too harsh, and if it hits all at once it can potentially do damage to a person. Allow your mother some adjusting period. I’ve read some stories where parents accepted their children’s choice after a grandchild was born.

  14. I have read much of your blog and followed your accounts of your relationship with your parents. You present your feelings very emphatically.

    I'm not sure what you expect from your mother. The choices about how, and with whom, you have chosen to live your life are ones you clearly know are ones she has difficulty accepting, and which no doubt cause her a not insignificant degree of hurt. I am therefore surprised by your surprise at her reactions. What response would you expect that would be consistent with her whole sense of identity?

    I have been fortunate to have lived in four countries, and to have seen a range of communities and families. I have seen families that have broken up when a member has deviated radically from parents, children, or siblings, whether it's, to use the colloquialisms, going off the derech, by becoming BT, or converting. I have seen others where the family has remained intact and survived these threats to family harmony. What I think makes the difference is the nature of the relationships before the change occurs.

    Let me ask you, what would your ideal outcome be? What changes would you expect from parents to see that outcome? What changes would you be prepared to make? What changes do you think your parents/mother could not make? What changes could you not accept?

  15. Look, I've said this a bunch of times but I might as well try again. Get yourself a good therapist. Go with your mother, if she's willing, or just go yourself. You will never resolve these issues with sporadic phone calls and emails. You and your family are suffering an emotional trauma. The healthy grownup thing to do is deal with it responsibly so you can move on.

    I don't think the issue is being more sensitive. But you do need to find a way to deal with your mother's inability to deal with your marriage. She might never find a way to deal with it. Than what?

    A good therapist would help you find the answer to that.

  16. Want to switch with mine? She would be perfectly happy with a non-jewish son in law and a daughter like you. I'm serious.

  17. I'm sorry, AE. It's hard to remember who you're dealing with sometimes. Trust me, I know.

  18. if youre doing the opposite of what your mother wants, and you knew it all along, what do u expect from her? to agree with YOU? maybe you should agree with HER! youre both acting exactly the same way, mirror reflections.
    i suggest speaking to someone who you presume agrees with her values to try to come to some sort of understanding here, maybe she/she will be wise enough to sort this through properly and advise you both.

  19. I don't expect her to agree with me, but disagreeing with my decisions is different then pretending those decisions never happened

  20. There are condos that are houses. The house that Rob, Avim and I lived in was a condo.

    3 bedrooms 2.5 bathrooms, 1-car garage, fireplace, room in the driveway for 3 cars. We paid $1,780 a month.

    We were renting, of course, but I'm sure they sell them too.

  21. Great title for the post - I think your mother has a very fragile grasp on reality and needs psychiatric help. Either that or a 12-Step meeting for Parents of Children Who Have Strayed From The One And True Faith:

    Step 1 - Accept that you have no control over your child. Your child is an adult and can make her own decisions. Accept that refusing to acknowlede the choices your child makes hurts your child, more than the choices your child has made hurt you.

  22. Oh come on, I have been following AE's blog for sometime now. She knew from the beginning that her parents will not accept any spouse from her if he were not Jewish. They had trouble accepting a convert. AE went ahead and dated a non-Jew anyway. The result is that she is going through a ceremony and will call this one a husband.

    Halachacly one cannot marry a non-Jew. It is an impossibility. So, based on that her mother chose to accept that her daughter will forever be single. Instead of using a word "husband" when speaking to her mother, AE should refer to him by his first name. This way he is a person who shares her daughter's home...

  23. mlevin, after the wedding, B may not be halachicaly AE's husband, but since we live in the US and for the time being not in a theocracy, B is leaglly (and in reality) AE's husband. Her mother may not like or accept it, but fact is fact.

    My spouse happens to be Jewish but comes from a home that was polar opposite of the one I grew up in. But our parents were accepting of or choice and my in-laws are accepting of our kids who are being raised in a Jewishly observant home. Is it what they would have chosen, certainly not but they accept reality.

    Even though this is not exactly the issue at hand there are similarities. My parents who view themselves as Jewish (without a denomination but shommer shabbat) accepted my choice of a spouse (and learned to live with the fact that we were living together before the wedding)gladly opened their home to us. Their warmness and open mindedness brought us closer together.

    If B's parents saw the big picture (including god willing grandchildren in the future) they too would open their minds and their home. It is called kiruv. But their attitude (which may be driven by "what will their friends say/think") will only drive them further apart from their daughter and future son-in-law. I would wager that they will be very sorry once they have grandchildren who they will not know.

    AE's parents really need to look into a mirror ...

    BTW, I am not a fan on "marrying out" but it is reality and we have to come to terms with it otherwise in not too many generations the Jewish people will dissappear. All that will be left will be Jewish zealots (if inbreeding doesn't get to them).

  24. Tell you what.
    I'll take your mom; you can have my dad (he's a real son of a gun).
    Good luck.

  25. I second what Off The Derech said. Want my family?

    My parents are even in denial that I'm not religious. Completely. After Tish'a B'av, my mother actually pressured me to eat, because "you must be so hungry" and I didn't have the heart to explain to her that I had eaten two double cheeseburgers and two of those apple pies that day and was definitely not hungry.
    I have told her numerous times that I am not religious, but she refuses to even hear the words.

    Your situation sucks, though, and I sympathize. My parents would likely do the same thing if I married a non-Jew.

    Oh, and for the person who said, "although you should be more sensitive and not raise an issue that causes her pain. "
    So her mother can cause her pain and distress simply because she gave birth to her, but AE must go out of her way to not cause her mother one moment of discomfort? AE called her mother to wish her a good rosh hashana, sounds like she is trying hard to be realistic while not hurting her mother more than necessary, and you criticize her for wanting basic acceptance from her own parent? Shame on you. Read something other than kibud av v'eim books.

  26. Margo,

    Your comment regarding AE might be more persuasive if AR were not seeking some sort of relationship with her mother.
    AE expects her mother to change to accommodate her; I wonder what flexibility AE will consider to accommodate her mother.

  27. Why do you want to send them to a therapist?
    AE is grown up, so just pretend she emigrated to America and her parents stayed back in Europe, no phone, no mail, no nothing.

    Just 100 years ago it was quite common that parents would hardly ever hear from their children once they left home. So what's the big deal? Just keep friendly non-contact. No need of a therapist there.

  28. i think your mom is just as much in denial about your new life as you are about her feelings towards this new life.

    (if your mom had a blog...
    "my daughter (has no grasp of reality)"
    it's kinda surreal to talk to my daughter, who is so deep in denial that she has created an imaginary world in which i'm able to accept her getting married..")

    if you feel good about your life and your husband and your choices - theres really no need to impose them on anyone else or have them verbally approve of them.

    you can have a civil respectful relationship, mention your husband if it's relevant - and let it go when she doesnt react.

    just as they cant control who you marry, you can't control how they react to who you marry.
    you both have to accept eachothers choices - but you dont have to approve of them.

    (and yes i'd say the exact same thing to your mother if this was her blog!)

  29. Has your Mom ever consulted any of the rabbis in her community? Parents have a tendency not to discuss this kind of stuff with their rabbis. But I think those rabbis might offer her some much-needed perspective.

  30. I think it's wrong, but still rational, for your mother to refuse to talk about B with you. But to make responses to you that specifically deny the existence of B is bizarre. Maybe she's hoping that by saying things like that, she'll somehow make it so.

    It's a world of difference between silently ignoring the existence of something on the one hand and making statements that directly contradict the existence of it.

  31. Hey, AE, sorry you had to go through all that crap! I know it sucks when u want to share your happiness about finding a man you love and she is so unresponsive and not supportive. I hope that you have other people who are happy for you (even though mom is the main one you want support from). My mom also was bitchy. When I called her to tell her that my b-friend asked me to marry him, she said "I am sorry for him, that he'd have to live with you." But it was all about the fact that he was "not one of us."

    I hope it will all work out when you have kids. But I know that in some cases, family disowns the one who "left" and/or married out of faith. It can be pretty lonely. But the Torah said that the man should cling to his wife and I think a wife - to her husband, while leaving their parents.. Good luck!

  32. saw this and thought of you:
    hope you find it funny
    there's a bunch more he's got there. type Frumkeit into youtube.
    keep up the great blog!

  33. @ DYS: what you said is very true. Kind of crazy if you ask me. :-(

  34. AE...rest assured knowing that most people (or at least in my experience) go through some sort of "fall from grace" in their parents eyes. It's is up to each parent to decide how to react. Do we want to abandon our own children in the face of what we feel is a bad decision? It is up to all of us to love UNCONDITIONALLY. I've always thought that this was the definition a mothers love. On your end, AE...I know it's painful but realize that you are learning a valuable lesson that you can apply with your own children down the road. Your mother may be doing you a favor by unknowingly preparing you for a difficult situation with your own child, in which case you will remember what you felt like and therefore be able to make a better decision. Also, you should choose to love your mother unconditionally as well. She is only human and Im hoping if you kill her with kindness (and act like her denial doesnt upset you) she may see the error of her ways. Forgive her, even if she cannot forgive you.

  35. You state that your mom has “no grasp of reality”. It seems that you are the one that is out of touch with reality. As commented by others, you are doing something devastating to your parents by intermarrying. You can’t expect them to ever accept your corruption of one of their core beliefs. It appears that your parents, who are either in denial or avoidance, have been more tolerant than you deserve.

    Maybe your parents will ultimately tolerate your pending intermarriage and B, but if you don’t return to your Jewish faith, raise your children as Jews, and have somewhat a Jewish household when you get married, what do you expect your parents to do? Congratulate your life decisions which are antithetical to their entire existence?

    You seem to be a very angry person who requires validation from people you must realize are unable to give it to you. It would be interesting for your readers to understand what has set you on the path rejecting your Jewish heritage and ultimately embracing atheism, rather than exploring what was missing in your beliefs. Or, maybe you did seek out truth and arrived at your current conclusions.

  36. Ahh, the ever honest emes from Anonymous.

    Not liking something is one thing. Being hurt by something is one thing. Wishing it wouldn't happen is one thing.

    Pretending that it can't possibly be happening, well, that's something else. And for that, you need help.

  37. HH,
    Until we were able to afford a gardener, I mowed my more than half acre lawn every Sunday and trims the hedges. It was great exercise and I enjoyed it.

  38. AE,
    I consider myself a pretty good therapist and with my state license and Ph.D. so since people keep bringing up therapy and seem to think the answer lies there - I am going to have to say, don't bother going with your mom to therapy. Her narcissism won't be cured in any family therapy sessions and it will likely just cause you further pain.

    The only therapy that might be useful is one that is focused on you. One that helps you let go, move on and be at peace. You and your to be husband deserve at least that much.

    Oh, and you are not mean or insensitive. You are human, hurt and angry. It would behoove the Hebrew Named person to learn the difference.

  39. I haven't read all your posts, so I may be asking a question already answered. How have you acknowledged to your parents that your decisions cause them pain?

  40. 1) You do have some haters on your blog, who I could site if I'd learned Hebrew yet,
    2) 'if you want to talk to me then you can't talk about him ever' Is not parenting. It is denial. And I would call her on it too and I would be totally pissed too. My only caveat to that is that being that you're smart, you can think three steps forward and only choose to respond (mostly) in ways that are constructive- that condition her to stop being in her own little neurotic world and give her ways to leave it maybe. That does not mean you're being mean though!!! I would not swallow this shit either. I've seen too many dysfunctional family relationships including the Jewish varieties, and these things don't get better by choosing to try to swallow their neurosis for yourself.

    To the haters out there (you know who you are), this is the reason this chick does not post in this blog much. Privacy mode is annoying, but just cause it's in public mode doesn't mean you need to be wiping your ass condescendingly over her blog. Oi to the politically/religiously -charged blog! Can everybody just leave my girl alone a little?!

  41. ae, if you don't need money, i'll share my mom with you. no one will ever be your mom, but she's cool. she's broke, but she's rational about accepting people loving people and stuff and can email. (my dad leans to the right).

    I agree w/whoever said the only useful therapy would be for you, not you and your mom. in response to a more recent post, I think forgiveness benefits the giver as much as or more than the recipient.

    whoever asked if you acknowledged to your folks that your decision to marry b hurt theur feelings asked a good one. I think part of forgiving them is being grown up enough that despite their ethnocentrism, you realize your decision was painful to them and that hurting them wasn't your intent. at the same time, you hace to live your life for you, not for them. if that means they put their religion before their child, that's their choice, and although their choice may pain you, the same courtesy (they have to live for them) you would like from them should be given to them, and if they can't handle the truth, do your heart a favor and step back.

    let me take a moment to mini-rant how I think not letting my sister sleep over at the homes of less frum kids' families forces her to be an orthodox apologist and teaches her that it's not people's middos that matter, but the hashgacha on their food. and that is a giant crock of horseshit, imo, and destroys all that is good or nice about orthodoxy by forcing her to tell other kids they can come to her house but she can't go to their house 'cause her parents are judgmental f----s.

    and with all the shit that has happened the past couple of years with her, it's just not a good time to tell them that. I figure the only way she'll wind up observant is if she finds chabad. and, if so, I will laugh when her parents complain that she's too frum. :lol:


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