Category Archives: Relationships

Lessons From a Hypercritical Mother

I was raised by a mother who found fault in everything I did. Even my most painstaking efforts to gain her approval were completely futile. She was impossible to please, so I eventually stopped trying and ultimately stopped caring. It’s a wonder that I learned anything positive at all from the woman, but I did, and I would like to share a few of the things I learned from a hypercritical mother:

Children are worthy of respect.

Novel concept, eh? Children are individuals; they are thinking, feeling human beings with minds and ideas of their own. While we may have no idea where they’re coming from sometimes, or why they do some of the things they do — especially during adolescence — children and teenagers deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect afforded to those members of the human race who just happen to be older than them.

Being an adult does not entitle me to belittle or devalue someone simply because s/he is a child.

My son will be thirteen in less than four months. He is experiencing a lot of physical and psychological changes, and sometimes I feel like I don’t even know him. He is moody and cranky a lot of the time, even rude and disrespectful. Much of what I say to him goes in one ear and out the other, and sometimes his logic fails me. But snide, condescending responses to these things will only drive a wedge between us and broaden the gap in our communication.

It is my responsibility as an adult and a parent to model the type of behavior I expect from my child.

Adults are not automatically worthy of respect from children.

Respect is earned, and that applies to adults as well as to children. I will never insist that my son respect someone who disrespects him. That is not to say that I will allow him to behave disrespectfully toward another person, regardless of age. Not respecting someone and behaving disrespectfully toward that person are two different things. We can be courteous or civil to people whom we do not respect — it’s an important part of functioning in society. But if you want to be treated with respect, which I believe goes above courtesy or civility, then I’ll need a reason other than your date of birth.

If you want respect, then behave respectfully and respectably. Talking down to people, making them feel stupid or embarrassed for not seeing things your way or for not knowing or understanding something that seems obvious to you is not only disrespectful and hurtful, it is a form of emotional abuse that can permanently damage someone’s self-esteem, especially a vulnerable child.

Questions are good things.

I’m glad that my son is inquisitive, and that he comes to me with questions. I have always encouraged this and will continue to do so, regardless of how difficult his questions may become over the years. It keeps the communication flowing, and that is a vital part of any parent-child relationship. It’s important to try to give honest, straightforward answers whenever possible — even if the answer is, “I don’t know, but let’s look it up and see what can find.” I think this shows children that we’re interested in them, even if the topic doesn’t interest us that much.

On the flip side, my mother seemed irritated by questions. She seemed to regard them as some sort of intrusion, like answering to the likes of some snot-nosed kid was utterly beneath her. Even questions designed solely to make conversation or show interest were met with obvious annoyance and sarcastic responses. I learned at a very young age not to ask questions unless I wanted to be hurt and humiliated. I will not pass that lesson along to my son!

Different just means different.

Try telling that to my mother. She never seemed to understand that individual people have individual preferences and ways of doings things.

Wait, I take that back. She does understand that. What she does not seem to understand is that these kinds of differences do not make anyone inferior to her. Different just means different, and preferences cannot be incorrect by definition. There is more than one way to fold a bath towel, and none of them are right or wrong. They’re just different. Some people prefer mayonnaise, some prefer mustard. Neither preference is incorrect or inferior.

With my mother, there was never any room for individuality. As for me, my son’s emotional well-being and self-esteem are far more important than what he prefers to put on a sandwich, or having my dishes stacked to precision.

These are just a few lessons I learned from my hypercritical mother. I no longer have a relationship with her. The last and final straw was when I took my son back to my hometown and stupidly attempted to reconcile with her.

Nothing had changed. If anything she had become even worse over the years. She was just as controlling and critical of me as she had always been. But when she started directing her venom toward my son, I knew that it had to end. I simply refuse to subject my son to it. Shared DNA does not equal a healthy relationship and I will protect my son in every way possible from the effects of abuse in any form.

Do I always get it right? Absolutely not! I am talking to myself here as much as to anyone else. I hope that sharing this publicly will help to make me even more conscious, and accountable as well. I love my son more than anything in this world, and I want to do right by him in every way.


In Loving Memory of Papaw

I found out this morning that my grandfather died a little over a month ago. I may write a separate post explaining why I wasn’t informed, but for now I would just like to pay tribute to my grandfather who I loved and thought of often despite what certain other “family” members may think.

My grandfather was a kind and gentle man, dedicated to his family and, yes, to his god. I watched him preach on numerous occasions, and his passion was evident to me even as a young child. I sat in the very front row of the tiny rural church where he was Pastor, watching in awe and singing my heart out when the time came to do so.

When visiting Papaw at his home in Mississippi, he was always the first one up in the morning. I’m sure he rose before the sun to pray while the grandchildren were still sleeping and the house was quiet. When I finally awoke, I would find him sitting in his favorite chair, Bible open on his lap. He would look up and smile, welcoming me with a cheerful (Mississippi-accented) greeting: “Mornin’, Glory!”

I went to stay with Mamaw and Papaw when I was thirteen. I’d been having trouble at home and in school, and my grandparents welcomed me into their home as a sort of safe haven. It wasn’t long before I had inadvertently started running with the wrong crowd and Papaw was none too pleased.

One afternoon, I was standing outside his house talking with a couple of boys, one of whom I knew from school. The other didn’t go to school anymore. My grandfather came out, grabbed me by the arm and marched me inside the house.

“You’re hurting me”, I protested.

“Not as much as those two will”, he calmly replied.

The next time I tried to speak to the boys, neither of them wanted anything to do with me. After sending me to my room that day, Papaw had gone back outside and caught up to the boys, who had wasted no time in getting out of there. He warned them both that if they ever came near his granddaughter again, he would kill them, and that no one in that town would believe the Baptist preacher had done such a thing.

It worked!

While I would never condone such threats, I later realized that Papaw was only trying to protect me. Oh, I was livid at the time, but what I didn’t know, and Papaw did, was that the two boys were heavily involved in drugs, including dealing, and had frequent run-ins with the law. He just didn’t want to see me go down the same path. That certainly doesn’t excuse what he did, but it explains it in a way that any parent or grandparent might understand.

Papaw was one of the few men in my life who I didn’t fear (I even feared my own father). I always felt safe when Papaw was around. He wasn’t going to hurt me, or let anyone else do so. He risked his own safety as well as his reputation when he confronted those boys, but none of that was as important to him as protecting me at the time.

Over the years, circumstances beyond my control lead to a distancing between my grandparents and me. Mamaw died more than twenty years ago, and there had been no contact for several years prior to her death.

I often greet my son in the mornings with, “Mornin’ Glory!” I think of Papaw every time I say it. This morning, as I came to Bonnie for my morning hug, I said it to her. I then explained where it had come from, and wondered aloud if my grandfather was still alive. She asked his name and looked it up on the internet where we discovered his obituary. Papaw died a little over a month ago, June 29, 2009.

He used to sit on his front porch and sing. I always enjoyed sitting with him, singing along if I knew the words, and listening if I didn’t. One of my favorite songs to sing with my grandfather was Church in the Wildwood. To this day, despite my views on religion, I sometimes find myself humming or singing it softly to myself. It still brings back warm and happy memories of the few short visits I had with Papaw.

So, I dedicate the following song to the loving memory of my grandfather, Reverend Charles Donald Fitzgibbon (March 10, 1923 – June 29, 2009)


Happy Birthday, Sunshine!

Today is my little boy’s 12th birthday. I don’t know where all the time has gone, but he is certainly growing up fast.

We celebrated yesterday and everyone had a great time. We gave him his gifts in the morning so he would have the day to enjoy them. In the afternoon, we had a party at a nearby bowling alley. There was pizza and pop, cake and ice cream. Everyone bowled and the kids played video games afterward.

We’re going out to dinner tonight since today is actually his birthday. In the mean time, I wanted to post something special for my son who is growing into a fine young man and making me a proud momma.

Happy birthday, Sweetie. You are the sunshine of my life and I love you very much!


Intellectual Love

I found this via Terra’s blog and thought it was quite funny. Hope you enjoy it too!

Tim Minchin — If I Didn’t Have You


Tomorrow: National Day of Silence 2009

glsen_articlesimage_large2400w200hnorm1NEW YORK, April 9, 2009 – An 11-year-old Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hung himself Monday after enduring bullying at school, including daily taunts of being gay, despite his mother’s weekly pleas to the school to address the problem. This is at least the fourth suicide of a middle-school aged child linked to bullying this year. Full article at GLSEN

Carl did not identify as gay, but this tragedy serves as a reminder that anti-LGBT bullying can have devastating effects on all students, particularly during the vulnerable years of budding sexuality and peer pressure.

Carl would have turned 12 tomorrow, April 17, 2009 — the National Day of Silence.

Contrary to claims made by the religious right organizations and various members of their flocks, promoting homosexuality is not the purpose of the DoS. The purpose is simply to bring awareness of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment, and to promote effective responses to it. It is not about allowing gay students to disrupt class for the day to promote a “homosexual agenda”, as many claim.

Students of all beliefs, backgrounds and sexual orientations participate in the Day of Silence.

When I called my son’s middle school, I was pleased to learn that they will recognize the DoS. An announcement will be made in the morning, and the event will take place during lunch. In an effort to counter some of the negative response they are sure to receive, I offered my thanks and support, and assured them that my son will be in attendance.

Rambling On will also recognize the National Day of Silence tomorrow, April 17, 2009. No new posts will be made, and comments will be held in moderation until the morning of April 18. I will change the settings now in case I’m unable to get back to it later, but I will do my best to check in and moderate comments before I shut down for the night. Comments made after around 7:00 p.m. Central Time will not likely be seen until the morning of the 17th, and will therefore be held in moderation until the following morning.

My heart goes out to the family of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and to all the other families and individuals who know first hand the harsh realities surrounding anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.

To those who have experienced the humiliation of being tormented simply for being who you are: You are valued, loved and appreciate by more people than you may ever realize. Your life is precious and other people’s lives are enriched by your presence in the world. Please be good to yourself — you deserve it!

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2009 Rambling On


Getting To Know You – Part IV

In May of last year, I started writing a series entitled Getting To Know You. The purpose of the series was to address some of the questions, concerns and misconceptions about online and long distance relationships. I became sidetracked and involved in other things, and never got around to finishing the series. Although it’s been nearly a year, a recent inquiry has inspired me to write another segment.

I have been in a long distance relationship for more than eight years — the relationship was initiated online, and my husband and I recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I am writing from my own experience and perspective. My goal is to help shed new light on the subject and work towards removing the stigma attached to these kinds of relationships.

Each part of the series address a different question or topic. In Part I, I addressed the question, “How can you fall in love with someone you don’t even know?” and explained my thoughts on what it is to truly know someone; in Part II, I discussed questions regarding liars and psychos on the internet; Part III addresses what to do if it turns out that the person you fell in love with online has bad breath or body odor, or if you’re not sexually compatible. I know these things may sound funny or superficial at first, but I believe they are legitimate concerns that deserve genuine responses.

Now on with the show! The next question I had wanted to deal with is:

Aren’t you worried he or she will cheat on you? Isn’t it easier to cheat when you’re in an online or long distance relationship?

Continue reading


A Family of Friends

You’ll find there’s a family of friends living here,
A small group of minds, and of hearts;
With some of us clever and some of us not,
At times you can’t tell us apart.

There’s one who is cranky, and one who is shy,
And one who is really uncouth;
And just when you think you’ve discovered who’s who,
You’ll really uncover the truth.

The truth that we’re all just a little of each,
A group of imperfects are we
And sometimes I might criticize them to you,
But don’t ever knock them to me.

‘Cause the one thing that ties us together for life-
no matter how far we’re apart,
Is love for each other, a family of friends
A small group of minds, and of hearts.

Judy Blume