One of our mother’s problems with having children was that she didn’t like to have us invading her space. Long before it was considered part of our culture to talk about someone’s personal space, Mother was letting us know that we were not to get too close.
One of her favorite refrains was:
You’re smothering me!
This was not meant as an endearment but rather as a warning. The second you heard this phrase, you knew to move back and away from her personal space. And her personal space may or may not include the entire house. You might say she was not a touchy feely type of person. In fact Mother was quite the opposite. She preferred to keep people, especially her children, at arms length.
My sister and I soon learned that if you got too close to Mother you might wind up with quite an earache from her yelling. Even worse, you might end up with a sore body part if she was quick enough to snatch you up.
On the other hand, our dad never used those kinds of mean spirited comments with us. We were lucky to have a parent who welcomed us always with open arms.
Mother discussed being smothered during her entire life. She hated turtlenecks and any kind of clothing that was close to your neck. She never would have been able to wear a necktie had she been a man. I am aware of the irony of this given that she first put me in a baby straitjacket and, later, a child leash. Apparently her hatred of confinement only applied to Mother herself, not to her own children. But then again, she did “have to get her sleep.”
It seemed Mother had a problem with closeness, whether in clothing or in relationships. Never a good sign for being a parent. When I look back at her patterns in life, I can see that her inability to maintain a close relationship with others was a big warning sign. Maybe she just wasn’t cut out for being a parent. But I’m glad that she and our dad did have my sister and me. No kids, no family, no blog!
And, thank goodness, she never got around to actually smothering us!