The five words I wish my Mum never said

The five words I wish my Mum never said

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!

24 thoughts on “The five words I wish my Mum never said

  1. Claire

    I wish I had some amazing words of wisdom on why some people do what they do or say what they say but I don’t.
    What I do know is that the only person that is still living with the sting of those words is you. I say this because I live with the sting of my mum’s words in so many different instances. Like you my Dad and I were more allies than my mum and I. My parents separated (but reconciled 12mths later) when I was 14/15 and I had never heard my parents fight about anything except me ever. So like you I took that onboard it wasn’t a big jump in my head. The reason we were told was similar to you, but I have since heard a number of different stories (one spat at me by a particularly nasty ex) I am not sure the reason they separated even matters now but I know that I still carry that!
    Over the years my mum has said things to me that I think back on and shake my head. I am learning now (after a spectacular breakdown) that I need to let these things go that is significantly harder to do than say. Though rationally I know that my mum has never deliberately meant to hurt me I know that she loves me more than anything.
    Sending you lots of love
    Kit xoxo

    1. Thanks for your comment Kit, I really value you sharing your experiences. You are absolutely right too!

  2. I wish I had the answer for forgiveness but I don’t – as much as I wish I didn’t, I hang on to things said in the past too and I struggle to get past those comments that really hurt me. Even though, like you, I know rationally they were meaningless to the person who said them. x x

  3. Hi Claire. Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, words can really hurt can’t they. My father said some words to me when I was 14, and I can still remember what I was wearing, where I was when he said them and how I felt. It’s nearly 30 years since he said them and they still hurt. He died two years ago and one of the things I found really hard when he was nearing the end what that he never said sorry, never acknowledged what he had said was wrong. In the end, I decided I needed to let it go. I’m not sure I’ve forgiven him, but I did let it go so I could let him go too. I hope you’ll find a way to either forgive or let go too…

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Rachel. I think the thing that hurts, and perhaps for you too, is that the comments are made by people who love us the most.

  4. I got nothin’ my love! I frustrate myself with my lack of forgiveness at times. I harbour resentment and it eats me from the inside out. It’s coming on 3 years since I severed my relationship with my mother, and whilst I wish things were different- I truly don’t have the energy for her. She broke me as a child, and I can’t be the bigger, forgiving person, which saddens me. Words cut. And I constantly have to keep myself in check with my kids, for fear I’ll be just like her. What I know is that your Dad is loyal, he is fair and just. He has a strong moral base, and he is deeply loving. I remember him speaking at your wedding and I had a pang of jealousy at his evident love for you. I’d be proud to be like him. Xx

    1. Oh Bel, tears! The mother daughter relationship seems so tough. I’m proud of being like my Dad, after all, you’ve got to take after someone! Thanks for your lovely comment xx

  5. I totally recommend reading You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. I know that sounds like really naff woo woo stuff (and some parts are a bit out there) but this book changed my life in my 20s. You can get a free PDF online somewhere as I have sent it to a friend before. Forgiveness is about letting go. It’s not about condoning the actual behaviour, but about letting go of your anger about it so it no longer hurts you. Sorry if that sounds like a trite platitude, but it kind of sums up all my reading on the subject. I think Dr Wayne Dyer has written about this as well x

    1. The concept of letting go makes sense. I guess it’s more challenging when your hurt by those you love. Thanks for your insights xx

  6. I’m saddened by your story Claire, it resonates with me. My Mum has said (and unfortunately continues to say) hurtful things to me, and I don’t know why she does it. It is hard to forgive someone for an event, that continues to hurt you. This is why I think of forgiveness as an ongoing process. ‘Forgive and forget’ doesn’t work for me.

    After my parents marital breakdown I had so many confused and upset feelings, I remember sometime afterwards thinking that I wanted to forgive my Dad for his indiscretion, he never asked for forgiveness, said sorry or even seemed to think that he had done something wrong but in my head the words which kept going around were, I’m am forgiven so that I can forgive. The realisation I came to is that I had to choose to forgive him everyday, some days were harder then others (and sometimes I couldn’t forgive him at all), but as time has gone on I feel less and less of those days when I feel that I can’t move on from it. He can’t undo his actions, my Mum can’t unsay the awful things she has said to me – but the I can trust that because of those challenges I won’t do the same to my children. I can know that their actions say more about them, and in turn the question I ask myself is ‘what do I want my actions to say about me’.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Bec. Why are mother’s so hurtful? I entirely agree about striving not to do the same things to our children.

  7. My mum actually said these words for me recently, in the middle of an argument, and even as an adult it stung a little. She’s said it a few times, usually though in more of a general observation that I actually am quite a bit like my dad, BUT she said it to me the other day spitefully. And just so incredibly unfair. I’m old enough to know that it was so very inappropriate, but it’s still hurts that she’d say it. I can’t imagine how children deal with that kind of bitterness thrown at them.

    1. It’s tough Rachel. On one hand our parents are people that have flaws, but on the other hand I think as their children we expect that they try not to hurt us.

  8. Children take more in than we often think and words like this are very powerful. My mum always talked about how fat she was and how she needed to lose weight so I copied her and struggled for years. You can only learn from others.

    1. Absolutely! I try to keep comments on my own insecurities to an absolute minimum so they don’t impact on my boys. You are right about learning from others, I try to avoid the same mistakes.

  9. It is truly incredible just how powerful words can be! I will admit to regretting some things that have poured out of my own mouth as a parent. Thanks for the reminder to always be aware.

    1. I think as parents we all say things we might regret. I didn’t mean this to be a ‘watch what you say to your kids’ post but you’re right, it is a good reminder!

  10. I am terrible at forgiveness and fiercely loyal so I have no brilliant advice to give. I can completely see how these five little words can scrape through your heart. Makes me very aware of what comes out of my mouth in front of the kids.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Karin. It certainly does serve as a reminder to be careful about what we say to our kids.

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