There are five words I wish my Mum never said to me. It’s not “you need to lose weight” or “I won’t come dress shopping”. At first blush the words seem relatively innocent, but they are perhaps the most hurtful words anyone has ever said to me. The five words I wish my Mum never said are “you’re just like your father.” Delivered with a dose of spite.
Those five words hurt
I adore my Dad. My Mum does not. You see, when you are nine years old and your parents have recently separated those five words sting. To give those words more context, the reason we were given for our parents split was that our parent’s didn’t love each other anymore. Imagine you are nine. Your Mum tells you are just like your Dad. Who she doesn’t love anymore. The nine year old Claire draws the conclusion that she’s not loved either. It’s no doubt a giant leap. Rationally I know my Mum loves me.
Now I am a parent I understand that Mum probably made that comment in the heat of the moment. I have asked her about it and she doesn’t recall the conversation. Yet it is etched in my memory and it was said more than once. Dad and I had always been natural allies. In making that comment it was like the battle lines were drawn. My sister and Mum, so close and alike, leaving me isolated and without a parent in my corner. Dad was still around, desperate to maintain a close bond with us, but it wasn’t always simple.
Ironically my Mum was right. I am just like my Dad. I’m not offended by that, certainly not now. Yet I still wonder, does she love me a little less because of it? How can she love me unconditionally when I’m just like a man she can barely say a nice word about?
Many, many years have passed since those five words were uttered. I need to forgive my Mum, accept that it was just one of those things parents say to kids without thinking. I admit though, I find it tough. I mostly try to parent my boys a bit gentler that I was parented. I suspect Mum thinks I am too soft on them. But I don’t want them to ever doubt my unconditional love.
Any sage advice on forgiveness? How do you move on from a comment that stings? Is there something you wish one of your parent’s had never said to you?
Growing up in a single parent household is how I know the difference between solo parenting and being a single parent!