When I was finishing college, my dad wrote a letter telling me he had been talking about me to his friends and how proud he was of me. He said it then occurred to him that he should share the good things he was saying with me. So I’m taking up my dad’s example, and telling you how proud and grateful I am to have Barb Coleman, my blog partner and friend of many years, in my life. This is not a typical “Lessons Learned From My Mother” story, but Barb’s a mom, so I want to tell you what I’ve learned from her.
If you haven’t read Barb’s post “Lessons From A Narcissist Mother”, please read it – the link is at the bottom of this post. This is not just a “my mother was mean to me story”, it is an account of a lifetime of hurtful, disinterested, self-centered, mean-spirited, love-lacking treatment Barb went through as a child being raised by a narcissist mother. It is frank, brave, and uncomfortable. It is about life, Barb’s life.
When Barb and I were talking about the subject prior to her writing and posting, both of us were concerned how it would be received. We both come from a place of gut-wrenching honesty when it comes to writing…you gotta get naked. Her piece illustrates the flip side of the Hallmark-card mother in a very eloquent, yet direct, story. We decided it needed to be published. People would either read it and understand how sad and debilitating this type of mother-daughter relationship can be, or judge that this was awful to publish near Mother’s Day. My advice: this was the real relationship you had with your mother, and if people don’t like it, fuck ‘em – it needs to be published.
Barb had her kids young, and raised them pretty much by herself. The kids’ father was around, but he was their father, not a parent. Her interactions with her kids are funny (she’s hysterical actually, and I used to threaten to put her on the comedy circuit and ride her coat-tails to fame and fortune), warm, concerned, playful and most of all loving. It always amazed me that somebody raised in an atmosphere of contempt and disinterest could somehow innately find the path to being a really good mom.
I’ve watched her parent her kids through the years. She watched them fall down and get up, ways lending a helping hand but never interfering with the life lessons they needed to learn. She parented them through bad decisions, rocky relationships and substance issues, giving advice and support without over-functioning or trying to fix the problems for them.
After reading Barb’s post, “Lessons From A Narcissist Mother”, my husband – who knew about Barb’s mom – said “it’s amazing how her life has turned out”, because for many people, a bad childhood would be the excuse to wallow, self-pity and do nothing. Barb has excelled in EVERYTHING she’s done. She was the consummate and attentive sales person (which is how we met); focused and driven regional director for a national non-profit company; pivotal V.P. for a local non-profit; caring and informed retail sales professional; talented and honest blog writer.
Barb and I have known each other long enough that we know where the bodies are buried. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I just don’t think she’s heard nearly enough how fabulous she is, and after years of a mother telling you how unimportant and insignificant you are, I think she needs to hear it over and over.
The lessons I’ve learned from Barb are infinite. She has: shown an immense self-reliance to rise from the ashes of her childhood; an honest relationship with herself; sought help and learning to understand that the treatment she received in childhood was neither her fault or doing; cultivated warm, loving relationships; raised two kids who are darned fine people…..all without having a mother to lead her down the path.
My dad was right. When you think and talk about all the wonderful things you love about people in your life, you should tell THEM. Ms. Coleman…..you’re awesome.
And Barb…..the mother’s day story I told you I was tossing around in my head to write….yeah, well, I lied. ; )
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And then check out the other great posts in this months blog hop for Generation Fabulous