So this is gonna be a long question, but I could really use some advice:
I need help regarding how to handle living with my mother. My parents have been divorced for seven years. I live with my mother 90% of the time (I’m supposed to be with my dad every other weekend.) My problem is I can’t handle my mother. I had the great privilege of living in Germany for 3 months over the summer with some family friends, but not with mt parents or sister. Now my issue is, I’m back in the states, and my mother is really getting to me. I can’t tell if the problem is me, or her.
Lately, she’s been claiming a lot of things about me that aren’t true. Situations will range from what she thinks my “style” is, to being self reliant. She’ll tell me so many things I can’t do, and she’s always so negative. “You couldn’t wake yourself up in the morning if you tried.” or “You don’t even know how to clean a bathroom! You’re fourteen and your telling me you can’t wipe the counter off!” when in fact I can wake myself up, and wipe down a sink. These negative statements don’t hurt me as much as they could, but I’m also concerned for my sister (age 7). When I’m helping her after school, or while my mother is grocery shopping, I’ll express to her that she should work on her assignment a little faster and she’ll get upset and tell me “I can’t! I’m slow! I can’t be fast!”. When I ask her why, she says that it’s because mommy said so.
I can’t quite say my mother is verbally abusive because she is often full of praise, and she doesn’t mean to hurt us, but she is doing it nonetheless. Occasionally, she’ll accuse me of verbally putting down my sister, and while this is often the case (so it goes with siblings) I can’t take her seriously at all, because she is a hypocrite. There is also another issue. My mother believes in corporal punishment. I really don’t think she is aware that it’s wrong. However this concerns me because, she isn’t what I’d call old-fashioned, and she does have slight anger management issues that she half-way recognizes. For example, just a week ago she asked me to open the curtains in the living room. I didn’t listen, opened the wrong curtains, and consequently damaged an expensive plant. She told me this was the 5th time I hadn’t listened that day (true) and she got upset. I sensed it coming, and I stopped her hand as it came toward my rear end, stating, “Don’t touch me.” I don’t recall what she said, but I remember telling her that spanking was counter-intuitive. She was still upset, but she said “Alright, fine. Give me your phone. You can have it back later.” I legitimately had to fight back a smile, because truth be told, this was the first logical punishment she has given me in a long time. While this was a sort of improvement in our relationship, it didn’t last. The problem is, while overall my mother is a great person, she can’t handle what life is giving to her. She didn’t grow up in a stable family, and while she has always had a sort of “doesn’t need a man” personality, she can’t handle being a parent alone.
What it boils down to, is what can I do? Iv’e tried so much to cope with all of this. Iv’e tried to be reserved and calm and objective about tough situations, but that leads to her telling me I’m “acting like a jerk” and “that I clearly don’t care.” I’ve tried reasoning, and explaining or offering advice, but all that results in is “Stop making excuses” and “Oh look, your so smart aren’t you.” Iv’e even sort of played along, by letting my own emotions go, and getting angry, but that never ends well. I try to sound reasonable, and not condescending, but it’s hard. I really don’t mean to sound egotistical, and my mother is quite intelligent, but I have read information on parenting, and house-keeping, and money managing, and in some situations I am more knowledgeable than she is. I don’t try to tell her she’s wrong, because often she’s right (she has more experience), but she doesn’t value my opinion. Like most mothers, she will tell me that I’m so intelligent, and creative, and such (and mean it), but when it really comes down to it, she thinks I’m ignorant of how to do… you name it.
The problem is, she does jump to conclusions, but she has a basis. I don’t clean my bathroom often enough, I have trouble getting up in the morning, and I have been very forgetful and careless at times. The thing is, after my trip to Germany, I realized something. I can be responsible and do all those things, but somehow, not when my mother is there. This goes back to her negativity. Maybe I don’t wake myself up because I have been told I can’t. Maybe I can’t remember to clean the bathroom because I have been told that I am irresponsible. Then again, there is also the very real possibility that this failures of mine are due to my lack of opportunities and hectic expectations. A huge problem is I’m a different kind of person than my mother. Also, I am never allowed to clean up after my own messes and fix my own mistakes; I don’t mean huge mistakes either– I mean a mistake that has a simple solution. I have early memories (age 4-6) of making a mess (i.e. spilling dry cheerios) and getting scolded, but then the cheerios were picked up for me. As I got older I remember my mother cleaning up my messes and being told, “I can’t keep cleaning up after you this is ridiculous.” I came to the conclusion that I should fix my own problems, so I began offering “I can pick that up,” but I was usually told no. I was often told, “you made this mess, and I can’t have you mess it up more.” Things like this still go on, and I’m 14 now.
I’ve realized that I can’t really change who I live with and how people are, but I am running out of ways to cope. Added to this, I have the normal problems 14 year old girls have, and it’s beginning to feel like too much. I often feel like I hold my household together, because while my mother doesn’t like it, I think she needs me. It would hurt me to abandon her to do something drastic, like live with my dad, and I want to figure out how to avoid that. I need to know how to keep my life, and consequentially the lives of others from falling apart.