One of the worst fights I ever had with my mother was over me moving out. The fact that I was of age (22), done with college and working meant little, as this wasn’t about whether I “could” move out. Obviously, and legally, I could. It was about the sheer will of my mother against mine and what my parents thought was best (stay at home and save your money and stay away from that boy we don’t like) versus what I wanted (freedom to make my own decisions about my life without a running commentary).

It wasn’t a pretty fight. In fact, it still bothers me to think of it since it involved a level of aggression neither of us enjoyed very much and that didn’t solve anything. I eventually moved out when I got a job offer in Texas, I blew all my money and went into debt and I most certainly kept seeing that terrible boy they wanted me to stay away from.

Sure, my mother was right. But she didn’t get what she wanted in the end. Being right is a hollow victory when your daughter is a 24-year-old divorcee, nearly 10 grand in debt and severely depressed. But, after the dust settled, I told her that this might not have gone that way if she’d been more understanding about me wanting any semblance of freedom when I was a teenager and young adult.

Some people get to test drive adulthood under the supervision of their parents. I was told I could only be an adult if I physically moved out of the state. (At the time, simply moving out of the house, but remaining in the same city, caused that knock-down, drag out fight I loathed.) Any effort to get out and away was met with a glare of “I know better.” And while this worked great when I was small and desired to eat nothing but pizza and ice cream, it’s pretty stifling after age 19.

Plus, I didn’t know how to make decisions for myself for a long time – to disastrous results. And I was that way by design. It’s easy to make the “I know best” argument if you’ve been raised to be wholly dependent on your parents. And while there were some parts about how my parents raised me I wouldn’t change for the world, the part where I would cry until I was blue in the face over how it was unfair for them to expect me to adhere to rules that infantilized me at age 16, 19, 22, 25 and even well into my 30s, is something I’d like to avoid with my own kids one day.

With all this in mind, my mother and I are actually extremely close. As a child, she wasn’t just my mother, but my friend, protector, therapist, doctor, teacher and spiritual guide. I relished in telling her my stories. So much so that when we fought once when I was a kid and I told myself I’d give her the “silent treatment” the next day, I found myself still talking to her the minute she said “good morning.” Because the silent treatment wasn’t just a punishment for my mother. It was a punishment for me. I loved talking to her. Whatever bothered me seemed small in the larger scheme of breakfast chat.

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  • I used to think that it was just me; talked with other friends and realized that it is part of the 18-24 yr old quarter-life struggle.

    • not just “18-24 quarter-life struggle” more like “18+ life struggle” I met 2 women, 49 and 50 yo going through the same things with their mothers

  • Mocha

    I have a friend who is going through this. She’ll call and complain to me about her mom, but won’t speak up herself. I get that mothers are the begining and end of all and I love, respect and cherish mine. However, communication is key. But also, standing on your own is key. Mothers are people too. In this case, her mother plays off the fact that her daughter still needs her in certain areas of her life. It’s a tough situation, but with the lack of respect, I’d have to have a serious sit down or make some serious changes in my life, because RESPECT is a matter who you are.

  • Mocha

    Another thing…what’s up with these mothers that call their children 100x’s a day! I have friends who’s parents call them every five minutes! About every little thing! And I wonder why do they (the GROWN kids) even bother to answer. They complain about it all the time. And say how it irks them. I mean..if they are calling and you KNOW they don’t want anything, why answer?! It’s another method of control. BOUNDARIES PEOPLE! It’s about setting BOUNDARIES (sometimes).

    • Ladybug94

      Mocha, my mom will call me and if I don’t answer she will call my kids. When I finally do speak with her she will say “I called you, you didn’t answer what were you doing” I try to change the subject but she goes back to “you still didn’t tell me what you were doing when I called you”. Shoot I may have been doing something she didn’ need to know about but at any rate what I was doing is my business. But she goes from one question to another question so I feel like I’m being interrogated. I love my mom but I can’t stand being asked questions in rapid fire succession.

  • Wow. I feel like you just wrote my life story. Thank you for this!!

  • Balba

    Wow, what a great article. While I can’t say that this situation directly applies to my mother and our relationship, it definitely sounds like my boyfriend’s relationship with his mom. He just turned 22, still lives at home, and his mother is unbelievably manipulative. She will tell him very passive-aggressively that she wants him to move out, but then turns around and says/does things that communicate that she doesn’t want him to. She will have these late night one sided conversations with him where she tells him all of her problems and how ‘awful’ her life was. I should also mention that these rants are almost always fueled by alcohol. She even implied one night that he was a mistake, and that if she never got pregnant with him she would have been a manager at her job by now. She’s unemployed now and relies on her husband. How can you say that to your own child? She also has never given him any preparation for life in the real world, and I think it’s because she wants him to always be dependent upon her. Her hypocrisy and delusional views of the world are maddening, and it hurts me to see my boyfriend so mixed up about it. He wants to break away from her, but something is holding him back.

    I want to be there to support him as much as possible, but it does take its toll. I’m the first girlfriend he’s ever had, and we’re approaching our one year anniversary soon. I find it difficult to be nice to this woman, especially when I witness firsthand the snide remarks she makes towards her son. She needs professional help. I don’t know what to do anymore.