I’m not going to sugarcoat things: my mom and I didn’t always get along.
I, like everyone else on the planet, went through my bratty teenager phase, and we had our fair share of fights. I was under the impression that everyone was out to get me, and my parents were the enemy. You know the story. She would get mad whenever she saw my report cards. I would get mad at her for getting mad at me when she saw my report cards. I was hormonal, she was annoyed. It was a vicious, but typical cycle.
However, unlike a lot of other bratty teenagers, other than our stereotypical little fights, there wasn’t much communication. We loved each other, we were there for each other, but we weren’t actually talking much more than, “How was your day?” “Good.” “Good.”
What we were doing, we saw as our only option. She struggled with her issues, things that made her upset, and I struggled with mine, but rather than opening up and uplifting each other, we kept these things to ourselves. She didn’t want to burden me. I didn’t want her to think less of me as a daughter. But we were wrong.
I went through so many years of my life pushing my mom away, thinking I didn’t really need any sort of special relationship with her, but everyone needs that. There’s nothing that exempts me from wanting to feel loved and close to my mother, no matter how hard I tried to tell myself there was.
She could have given up, she could have let me go. She could have said to herself, ‘wow, I’ve got a pretty shitty daughter,’ and left it at that. She could have thrown in the towel and figured we just weren’t meant to have a close relationship. I know I was ready to do that.
But the cool thing about my mom is that she doesn’t give up, at least not on me. Sometimes she asks me too many questions or nags at me too much, but she never, ever lets me down.
Today, we still have our little stupid fights. Sometimes when she is in a bad mood, she’ll snap at me, or I’ll roll my eyes when she asks me a question about plans that I’ve already told her about.
The difference now is that we talk about things. Instead of just thinking to myself, ‘she’s in a bad mood, whatever,’ and hiding in my room for the rest of the evening, I ask her if everything is okay. Instead of lying to me and saying it is, she tells me about the things that bothered her throughout the day. It sounds simple, but by the end of it, we both feel better. She feels listened to, I feel like I’ve gained some insight into someone who is such a huge part of my life, and we both feel appreciated.
Maybe you’re asking yourself what changed. How did I go from not wanting much to do with my mother to feeling closer to her than ever before?
I recently went through a very difficult time in my life. During this struggle, I pushed everyone away. On the list of people I pushed away, my mom was first. We weren’t that close to begin with anyway, so what did it matter? Towards the end, things became too much to handle and I had to open up. I had to ask for help, and the first person there was the first person I shoved aside: my mother.
It was scary, unlikely, and uncomfortable, but I decided to let her in. That’s the only way things can change—one person in the relationship has to decide to let the other person in. Otherwise, it’ll never work.
Luckily, my mother was more than receptive. It felt like she’d been waiting for this moment for a long time. She said to me, “I want you to know, you never have to go through anything alone. I’m right here for you 24/7, for whatever you need. I support you 100%.”
I realized this was the first time in years that I didn’t feel completely isolated. I didn’t feel like I had to shut down and suppress what I was feeling. I felt like I had a pretty awesome supporter.
Now, we joke with each other, we laugh, we talk about relationships and friends and family. We’re not just related anymore. We’re friends. A friend is what your mom should become in 20s, after all.