Dear Carolyn: Last night I told my mom that Im pregnant. Her reaction was, What?! Youre too young to raise a child! And how in the world are you going to pay for everything? This is a big mistake. Carolyn, Im almost 24, Ive been married for a year and on my own for about three years. My husband and I thought about this a lot it was no accident and we are comfortable with our decision and very happy to be starting a family. But my mothers horrified reaction is bothering me more than Id like to admit. I just want her to be happy for me and trust that Ive thought this through. By the way, she had the same reaction when I told her I wasnt moving back home after college, and again when I told her I was getting married. Shell only get upset if I talk to her about this, and tell me how overly sensitive I am. Why cant she ever say, Oh, thats great! Congratulations!? Upset by reaction
Answer: Oh, thats great! Congratulations!
Because it is great. So was your finding a way to live independently right after school, and so was your getting married.
I know hearing this from me wasnt quite the validation you had in mind, but it might be time to get used to taking what you can get. Yes, you want the satisfaction of pleasing your mom, just once. But shes made it pretty clear shes not going to grant you that.
Why? I cant be sure, and its possible she isnt, either. Could be she feels increasingly irrelevant, that your gains are her losses. Could be she digs the power she has over you. Could be shes simply bitter.
Or, maybe shes just like a lot of people who feel compelled to shoot down good news: scared. All the milestones you mentioned are happy ones, but each also comes with some risk. Living on your own? Financial ruin. Marriage? Divorce, or death. A baby? Death, financial ruin, divorce.
Instead of assuming or even hoping these things wont happen, some people find a sense of security in the reverse in telling themselves they can see them all coming. Better to be expecting it than to have high hopes and a broken heart, right?
It is unfair and joyless and sad, and, if its the reason your mothers so negative, its also not about you.
Actually, its not about you if shes clingy, controlling or bitter, either and thats what you need to absorb. I know, this is your mother, whose affirmation can feel more than your own. But: This is her way. Dont fight it anymore.
Instead, neutralize it. When she rushes to the darkest emotional conclusions, meet her there, without fear. I know, Mom, a million things can go wrong. But thats true of anything, and being alive means having to face that. Translation: When youre ready to be happy for me, you know where Ill be.
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