Many of us, when we become mothers, make the promise to ourselves the second we give birth that we are not going to turn into OUR own mothers. For example, I was expected to have a clean room at all times. So I donâ€™t force my daughter to keep her room tidy, I just shut her door. I was forced to get straight Aâ€™s, so Iâ€™m more laid-back when it comes to my daughterâ€™s homework and just tell her to do her best. But, a couple of weeks ago, for a moment, I did turn into my mother and I have never felt so bad in my life. I pulled a guilt trip on my daughter.
I couldnâ€™t believe it — not as I was doing it, not after I had done it, even today, weeks later, it still traumatizes me.
This is what happened: My daughter was spending time with her father in Aspen and she not only promised to e-mail me but she â€śpinky promisedâ€ť to e-mail me (we ALL know â€śpinky promisesâ€ť are way more important than just a â€śpromise.â€ť) The e-mail never arrived. So when we talked on the phone the next day, she could hear in my voice that I wasnâ€™t happy. I told her why, how she â€śpinky promisedâ€ť to e-mail and that she didnâ€™t, and it hurt my feelings. I couldnâ€™t believe what I was doing or saying. It was like my own MOTHER had infiltrated my body and she was speaking for me.
First, I KNOW my daughter was probably just tired from skiing all day, or she was busy with her dad and grandparents. I knew she didnâ€™t e-mail me on purpose, or to make me feel bad. She just totally forgot. But there I was, pulling a guilt trip on her, making her feel awful. And awful she did feel. She almost started crying when I told her why I was upset, and then I almost started crying for being the one to make her cry.
I had always promised myself that I would NOT turn into my mother, especially when it came to Guilt Trips, which my parents have always been very good at, even to this day. If I get out of a family dinner with them, Iâ€™ll get a phone call the next day telling me, â€śWe all had such a great time. You really missed out,â€ť while I roll my eyes, knowing that Iâ€™m getting a guilt trip, but also still feeling guilty (their guilt trips still work on me.)
Perhaps, to make a sweeping generalization, itâ€™s because weâ€™re Jewish. Trust me, if you are Jewish and you donâ€™t eat all the food on your plate, you get a guilt trip. If you donâ€™t call your parents at the VERY least, twice a week, you get a guilt trip. And now here I was pulling a guilt trip on my daughter. I questioned myself: Who and what have I turned into? And all over not sending an e-mail? Trust me, the night I pulled the guilt trip on my daughter I could barely sleep I felt so bad.
My daughter and I, of course, made up in the sense that while I was on the phone with her I told her to stop worrying about it and letâ€™s move on and to tell me about her amazing day. It turns out you really have to work on NOT turning into your mother.
Iâ€™ve been telling myself that itâ€™s NOT going to happen again. Iâ€™m never going to guilt trip her again, and I swear to god, it BETTER not be in my genes. As someone who feels guilty a lot of the time, thanks to my parents, I do not want my daughter to ever feel the way I do. But from this experience, Iâ€™ve learned that while I may have made my daughter feel guilty, no one felt guiltier than me.