7 ways my mother screwed me up & helped me, all at the same time

When you become a parent, you have to join forces with the person who shared in the creation of the child- or some choose to do it alone. You and this person are ultimately responsible for the lives of these little bundles of poop joy and will do the best you can in raising these little creatures that look to your every move as a way to model their beliefs, behaviors, and futures. You’ve made the choice to create a mini you. For some of us, that’s a good thing… for others, well, good luck with that.

I kind of feel that I’m the latter. My youngest daughter is me- to the T. She looks like me and acts like me in many, many, many ways. Now a lot of people out there are probably thinking, “Come on Claire, you’re not THAT bad.” But there’s a select group of people who remember ‘me’ when I was younger. THOSE people know what I’m saying. Did I turn out on the side of okay? Yeah, I did. But it took A LOT of hard work to get me here. I did not grow through adolescence very smoothly. Many times were VERY rough in our house during the ‘wonder years’. There’s a reason why I became a high school teacher, because I fully understand the struggles. I was always stuck between who I knew I should be and who I was.

Which brings me to how my mother royally screwed me up. (Mom, if you’re reading, relax… just keep reading.)

My poor mother. She endured many things during her life- family death, family physical illness, family mental illness, and two teenage daughters with a rebellion complex. Everything that she went through, she went through quietly, carrying it all on her back. (Well, kind of quietly- if you know my mother, you know what I’m saying.) But through all of this, through every painstaking moment, my mom taught me some important things. These are things that my mom would say, sometimes inadvertently, that set me up to think about life in a certain way. They are great pieces of advice, but have forced me to live my life in a certain way, sometimes harder than it should be. I often questioned these “Lisa-sims”, and sometimes still do, but all in all, they are spot on. Her “suck-it-up” attitude is definitely modeled throughout the following list.

1) “Be sure your sins will find you out.” Goodness, there was no statement that weighed on your conscience like this one. This is a great, overall thought. Basically, it means that when I did something wrong, my mom was going to find out. And for the most part, she did. (Sorry mom.) How did this turn into a bad thing? When I do something wrong, I make it my job to admit it. I can’t hide it. It’s on my face, and spews out of my mouth. Honesty was the best way to keep out of trouble in my house and it didn’t take me long to realize that. But unfortunately, the real world isn’t run by the same code. Out here, people will not look you in the eye and admit what they said/ did behind your back. They will not attempt to clear their conscience. They will try and lie to you so they appear to be someone that they are not. These people are poisonous. But I still think in my own little naive world, that all people are innately honest. And all of the times I have been lied to and manipulated, I still assume people want to be upfront, transparent, and honest. They don’t.

2) “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” I don’t think I will need to explain this very much, but my mom had the ‘I’ll ask you once and you better get to it, or I’ll do it myself and you pay the consequences’ down to a science. It was clear that when she asked for something, it was to be done because the outcome if NOT done was much worse. Silence was the worst. So, I would watch her ask my father to do something and if he didn’t, well, she was out there doing it- very quietly and vehemently, I might add. And let’s not even talk about how long she would go without speaking to me if I she wound up loading the dishwasher after I was asked to. She’s still like that. And so am I. My poor husband. With the kids, it’s the same way. It has caused me to not wait around for any teamwork/ collaboration. It has created the ‘bull by the horns’ mentality that has actually served me well in life. But I have also become so self dependent that it’s a struggle to allow others to do things for me. Is that such a bad thing? Not always, but I guess it could be. One of my children, in particular, is this way. Funny that it drives me crazy, and when I’m frustrated about something she should have waited for me to do, my husband will look at me with a smirk that says, “She’s totally just like you.” I hate it, but I love it at the same time.

3) “I can cook that just as good as that restaurant!” So. Many. Dishes. I learned my cooking & recreating skills from my mom. I would watch her cook then eat her food always in awe. I still call her to run a recipe by her and she can immediately tell me if it will work or not. Her love for food was definitely passed on to me as I’m often found, ‘relaxing’ and ‘de-stressing’ in the kitchen. Other than the dishes, this gives me a lot more work. And my kids don’t really like my food. But that’s cool. More for me. I know that they will come around someday, as I used to be picky- but my mother didn’t let up. We were not a family that had processed foods in the house very often, so it was her food or nothing. This statement, though, helped me handle the fact that my body does not tolerate gluten, which is in basically everything at every restaurant. It has allowed me to develop a lifestyle that is inclusive of many nutrients that we would not normally get, in some yummy food, while excluding toxic ingredients. But. So. Many. Dishes.

4) “If you want something, work for it.” Seems simple. Seems easy. Seems common sense. But it has led to me having 3 paid jobs, which is perfectly fine with me. But sometimes this can take away from my number 1 & 2 job: parenting & being an awesomely amazing pretty decent wife. But when I really step back and think about it, I realize that I want healthy, well-balanced kids and marriage. I want my kids to be successful and while I don’t want them to have to work as hard as I do sometimes, I still want them to understand that if necessary, that’s what they should do. With this trait, though, comes an addiction that could quickly envelope my life… working. People often criticize the working mom and say, “I could never have left my kids with strangers” or even a nicer “Wow, you guys must be always busy!” And we are. We never stop (with the exception of today… SNOWDAY). But I used to work and work and work so I could buy the latest clothes and have the nicest things. When you’re willing to give up all your extra time for money, this can be a dangerous piece of advice. But now? I see it this way: I don’t do my job for money or fame (obviously). Instead, I do it because I have been called to. I work day in and day out as a teacher because students need me. They need my time and energy. I think the problem lies within the ‘something’ we work for and not ‘work hard for it’ part. In a life that is so full of time consuming, wasteful activities (Netflix, anyone?), maybe the time we pour into our work, our careers, is actually worth it and models for our children that we need to contribute to society. And working is important to me. I may miss out on some moments of my kids’ childhood, but it’s not in vain because I’m working hard for a better future for all kids I cross paths with.

5) “Holidays are not holidays without family.” Sounds like a nice thing to say. Sounds like a mom thing to say, right? But with this has come my innate need to spend more time making sure that I’ve met everyone else’s needs before my own. It has caused me to spend a lot of energy cooking, planning, and making phone calls, all to make sure that holidays are spent with family. It has also caused hurt feelings, anxiety, and a lot of work to get everyone under the same roof. Some people would argue that it’s not worth the energy it takes to make all of this happen; holidays should be about you staying home and relaxing with your close loved ones, not stressing out over people you only see once or twice a year. I have to admit that I tend to agree with these people when I’m covered in flour (which I can’t even eat), hair disheveled, over caffeinated, rocking in the corner crying because my cranberry sauce is too tart and my cheesecake cracked. I think, “I HATE HOLIDAYS!” But then, something magical happens. When everyone is seated, eating, laughing, talking, and enjoying each others’ company (especially those we have not seen in a year), it’s all of a sudden worth while. Mother was spot on.

6) “Just because you’re a girl, doesn’t mean you can’t do it.” My mother was the product of the women’s lib movement. She never once let me believe that I was any less because I was a girl. My father helped this out by respecting all of us for who we were. But there is still that lingering idea that we have something to prove, regardless of the movement that was aimed at creating equal rights for all. But females still get paid less in some professions, still have to fight the stereotype, and I know that I personally still feel the need to defend myself for ‘acting like a girl’. Which is weird because, well, I am a girl. But this statement has made sure that I have no excuses to not do what I’m passionate about. And now that I’m raising a son, I realize that he will have his own stereotypes to face- but my mom’s statement encompasses the idea that we are not boxed in by our gender. I hope that my kids have less to prove and that my daughters, especially, don’t allow society to make them feel they have to fit in the mold created by magazines and Hollywood. And I hope that we can make it better for them.

7) “Don’t be afraid to tell people if they’re wrong and always stand up for what’s right.” This is BY FAR the most important, yet biggest instigator in my life. Its importance has been relevant to me recently. I remember being a wee little one telling my uncle his racist joke was not funny… and I remember my mom thinking that was the funniest thing in the world. It was not easy, but I was like 6, so I didn’t care. It’s much more difficult being an adult with this Lisa-ism than a kid. It’s easy to say it like it is when you’re young. There are many difficulties I face in this questionable society as an adult; moments where it would be easier to cower in the corner and concede to something I don’t totally believe in. People tell me to “fake it til I make it”. But I just can’t. I spent too much of my life in which I didn’t live out this creed. I let others dictate me and they were the darkest years of my life. But this idea that my mother planted in my head is part of everything I am, I just didn’t have the strength to live it. Just as the first 6 things on my list resonate within my being, this one has been the most difficult to maintain because it’s so much easier to just let others run you. I still struggle questioning whether it is worth it or not. But seriously, any action done with the greater good in mind is right and any action done with selfish ideals in mind is wrong. There are grey areas, there are confusing times. There are moments when you’ve stood up for something and you question if you should have just kept quiet. You wonder if you should have just sat there quietly and ‘let it pass’. You wonder if it was worth it. People get mad at you. People question you. People make judgements about you. People call you names. People accuse you of stuff. But, all that said, if not me, then who? And if not now, then when? If the most prominent, outspoken people in our history had not, then what would the world be like? Speaking up is hard, but not impossible. And it’s oh-so-very worth it.

There you have it, people. 7 ways that my mom screwed me up & helped me out at the same time. What inadvertent advice did you get from your parents?

Claire Pelletier

About Claire Pelletier

I'm 30. Boy am I 30. I have three children: Shelby (almost 8), Harper (3), and Aidan (1). I work full time as an English teacher, full time as a mom, part time as a wife, part time as a cook at a Diner (this is actually a paid position), and a per diem house cleaner. Basically, I do it all. Oh and I like to write (revert back to my full time teaching position). This life is crazy, people are even crazier, and online blogging has given me a voice. Some may think it's a loud and obnoxious voice, but I kind of like it. I do my best to write about things that interest people, mainly about myself. Sometimes I verge into the political land, but that place scares me, so I mostly write about every day things that make me laugh, cry, or scream. Thanks for reading!