Social media is ordinarily a difficult place for moms, what with all of the constant comparisons to seemingly-perfect posts of others.
Just about any mom can feel like she’s failing from time to time, and constantly seeing how well others are doing just makes it worse.
Some moms, however, don’t need those posts to feel inferior. They doubt themselves, their choices, their worth, and they have for a very long time.
Moms who are afraid to mother, afraid to fail, sometimes even afraid to succeed.
Moms who are rarely represented in the curated lifestyles of social media, who have no cheering section, no foundation, no role models.
These are the moms raised by narcissistic mothers.
These are the moms who are finding their own way, doubting every step, carrying both the guilt of not being enough for their children and the shame of not being enough for your mother. These are the moms raised by calloused, harmful, toxic mothers – like mine.
We don’t see ourselves represented often.
There are a lot of memes about always needing your mom, greeting cards about the lifelong friendship shared between a mother and her daughter.
Motherhood is seemingly a braid twisted of yourself, your child, and the constant contributions of your mother, so the motherless are left feeling as though we’ll soon unravel. We can’t even find Gilmore Girls relatable.
So when a video like the one shared by @diaryofanhonestmom comes across our Instagram feeds, we take notice.
We relate to the sentiments. We feel seen.
“To the mothers with narcissistic mothers,” she begins, “in your dark moments, I know that you wonder if you’re like her. But you’re not.”
Immediately the hot tears sting.
Nothing makes you doubt your abilities as a mom like being raised by one who got it all wrong.
I remember looming close to my daughter’s due date, round with child and twisted with anxiety.
One night I finally collapsed on the floor, struggling to catch my breath, terrified at the realization that I would soon have a daughter who could potentially feel about me the way I felt about my own mother.
I had no idea how to have a healthy mother-daughter relationship, only that it was possible to screw one up.
Mothers raised by narcissistic moms have no roadmap, no examples to go by.
We parent largely based on the deep-seated fear we have that we will become like them, fail our children like them. That fear we feel is constant, acting like a guardrail to keep us from doing the wrong thing.
Is this how my mom would react?
Is this something my mom would do?
The idea of parenting anything like her keeps us constantly questioning ourselves and our decisions, so that even if we’re nothing like her we’re still left questioning if we’re doing anything right.
Libby’s words on the screen continue, addressing the deepest shames and fears felt within the hearts of the motherless mothers:
“I know that you’ve tried to help, and deep down you feel some responsibility for her. But it’s not yours to bear. I know that you bear the burden of the choice of whether to expose your kids to her or not.”
It took me several tries to be able to watch the video in its entirety, to be honest.
I had to take breaks to breathe, to cry, to savor the bittersweet feeling of knowing that I’m not alone.
When your mother is a monster, there are few who can understand.
Society casts judgement upon those of us who hold their mothers at arm’s length, having no idea how it hurts to want to embrace and shun her all at once.
Their mothers were likely in the delivery room to greet their grandchildren – we have to decide if our kids will meet our mothers at all.
The comments left by too many others like me are full of confessions and gratitude, women who felt seen, understood, and validated.
Instead of being told we should forgive our mothers because “I’m sure she did her best”, daughters of narcissistic mothers are free to relate and share.
Mothers whose children have never met her parents.
Mothers who still struggle to trust themselves because of the lasting damage their own mothers caused.
Mothers who need to be reminded that not being loved had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with being failed by the person who is supposed to love them the most.
Mothers who have been gaslit and tormented, mothers who mourn the mother they themselves deserved and grieve the relationship they still desperately long for.
“You’re becoming the mom that you needed, and that’s beautiful, even if no one around you understands it.”
These are the words that every mom with a narcissistic mother needs to hear.
We can’t utter them to ourselves – we’re too afraid of messing it all up to stop and recognize when we’re doing a good job.
We’ve been so conditioned by our own caretakers to believe that we’re not worthy, we’re not smart, we don’t have any idea what we’re doing, and maybe even that our struggles are our own fault.
Self doubt and insecurity are the legacies we’ve been left in place of traditions and encouragement. We don’t know how to parent well, how to parent normally, so every milestone and event leaves us feeling completely unprepared.
What does a normal relationship look like? Am I talking with my kids enough? Am I involved enough? Is this too much hugging, or is it not enough? Was I right to be upset when they misbehaved, or am I just like my mother???
Those of us raised by women who couldn’t love us, us motherless mothers who are now trying our best to break the cycle of the worst, we are what we deserved as children.
The fact that we worry about our own actions, as the video points out, proves that we are not the same as the women who
raised harmed us.
The very fear we experience is the reassurance that we’re doing fine.
It’s not fair that we have to do the work of breaking the cycle.
None of what our mothers did was fair. We’ll never get what we deserved, and because of that we’re unsure that we’ll be able to give our kids what they deserve. There’s no making up for it, not for us. We can’t go back and fix our memories.
But we can – and we will – make certain that our children never understand what we went through.
Because of mothers like us, mothers who decide that the wounds end with us, fewer future mothers will doubt themselves the way we do, will walk blindly into motherhood like we have, and will feel as isolated as we have been.
And because The Honest Mom spoke up and shared her experience, we also know that we’re not alone. Watch the video below.
View this post on Instagram