When I was 15, my mom barged into my room and demanded that I immediately decide on a career path, so that I could apply to college. I was dumbfounded. Not only was this the first time she had ever insinuated that I was allowed to make decisions for myself, this was also the first time she had ‘asked’ what I wanted for myself and expected a real ‘response’.
In hindsight, this interaction was probably because my brother is 2 years older than myself, and was the right age to apply for college. But I was in 10th grade, and had never considered my future. I was too young to drive, never had a job, and wasn’t allowed any hobbies. What’s a career? Up until this point, every moment of my life had been: keep your head down, do as you’re told, schoolwork, homework. Repeat.
Like any 15 year old without a semblance of freewill, I waited for her to dictate the correct response.
me: ‘…I donno Mom, what should I do?’
Her: ‘What do you like?’
Her: ‘you like sewing.’
me: ‘……I guess’
In reality, sewing was just something I had to do because my parents rarely saw the need to take me clothing shopping. This was the exact age where I grew too tall to wear my child clothing or my mom’s/aunt’s hand-me downs. Every shirt was suddenly a crop top on me. I started needing to tailor the clothing to fit me. It was far from a hobby, more like a necessity. I didn’t like or hate it. But my mother and I have never seen eye to eye, and I suppose she thought I was doing it because I enjoyed it. Something else to observe about that incident, is that she didn’t actually know what else I was good at. That was the only thing she knew about me.
I wish she had the foresight to know that 90% of the time Art doesn’t pay the bills. After graduating from Art school, I was largely unsuccessful at getting full-time work. The economy was bad, and Art school didn’t exactly equip me with marketable skills. I had always been accepting of my Mother’s will, and this time she dictated that I should go back to school to learn something ‘useful’. That conversation still haunts me. The part that hurts the most, is that It felt like It was all for nothing. She sent me to do something, I Did It, She decided it wasn’t good enough, and sent me to go do something else.
A decade went by, and I came to realize that she had forgotten all the compromises I had made at her request. I’m like a trained dog to her. A lesser being that needs to be managed. Somewhere along the line “Mother knows best” became “Mother wont love me if I don’t follow her command”. Etching away at the pillars of my individuality over the last dozen years, I realize that trying to keep her ‘love’ has been the single most destructive force in helping me [a young adult] find my own life happiness. I’ve come to terms with the situation, and have been more mindful of her demands.
This year, I’d love to do something all on my own. But this involves: Finding something new, and Keeping It A Secret from her.
She came for a visit recently, and in the first hour she already started lashing out. She was very vocal about wanting more attention out of me, and threw around insults and complaints about this new ‘defect’ in my personality. But I know that it’s all a manipulative tantrum to stir more communication between us. She’s very good at that.
Now I just need to Stay Strong for another 40 years.