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'I was loved and respected by my mother. Until my unplanned pregnancy.'

I was loved, respected and heard by my mother until I was twenty-five years old. Not a bad run compared to some.

I was the middle child but grew up being treated as the oldest. I was considered more sensible and mature than my older brother. I was favoured by my mother but didn’t realise this until I was older and the light didn’t shine on me anymore.

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At least I was an adult when I suffered such rejection. My younger sister felt like it from the beginning. She has since taken the position as favourite. I bare her no bitterness. She should have had a more equal share growing up.

The unforgivable sin I committed was having an unplanned pregnancy. There was no morality judgement on marital status, age or position in life. It was just the fact that her daughter could be so stupid as to get pregnant accidentally. I went from almost daily telephone calls for chats to much less contact and questioning of every decision I made from then on.

I was twenty-five, living with my then-boyfriend (now husband). I was in a committed relationship, not a teenager, had travelled and been living independently since I was eighteen.

To my mother, the most terrible and foolish thing that could happen to a woman was getting pregnant accidentally. From that moment on nothing I said about any topic had any credence. She removed me as executor of her and my dad’s will and put my sister down instead.

It was such a shock to go from so high in someone’s estimation to being thought of as nothing.

My mother didn’t see children as a blessing. She did not coo over babies like most mums. In fact, she told us on many occasions not to have children. She insisted that she loved us, but don’t do it.

I am not a psychiatrist so am unable to classify someone as a narcissist… but I can pinpoint a few traits.

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A narcissist sees their children not as independent people but as an extension of themselves. As this was the most terrible thing she could imagine for herself, she was deeply wounded that I allowed this to happen to me.

She was very judgemental of others. I grew up a people pleaser (very common for children of narcissists, or people with narcissistic traits). Up until then, I had done everything that she approved of in life.

She judged people my age that stayed in the small town where I grew up. So I left home to study at eighteen. She thought you should see the world, and I travelled overseas. She told us not to have children. I agreed and wasn’t obsessed with marriage or children.

Before I met my husband I had no desire for those things. I wasn’t consciously making decisions I knew she would approve of. I considered myself a strong, independent woman. But I now know how much I was influenced by making choices she would approve of and not wanting to lose that acceptance or love.

My contact with her has been less and less. At the beginning, I still tried to please her and be what she wanted – but the damage was done. Nothing could get me back to where I had been. No amount of success would change my position.

There were constant barbs about my husband, our parenting, our financial situation. I won’t list every slight as they would seem petty yet plentiful.

“Oh, you’re spending that much on your wedding?” $2000 that was mostly a gift from my husband’s parents.

“Don’t expect your sister to go to your wedding. It is, you know, her career.”

“That’s what happens when you stay at a job long enough,” after telling her about my husband’s promotion.

“No, thank you.” Me asking if she would like to hold my newborn.

“He doesn’t need that,” when I offered my husband a TimTam.

On this episode of Mamamia Out Loud, Mia, Jessie and Holly discuss the mental load of “daughtering.” Post continues below.

My sister, on the other hand, could now do and say no wrong.

Previously her judgements and decisions were questioned. My mother would talk to me about her. I thought about how mature and grown-up I must be that my mum would tell me what she thought about my sister.

Now I see it as elevating one sibling over another. I got the bigger bedroom. It was me that went in to town with her all the time for shopping and coffee. It’s no wonder my sister now holds on to that bond that puts her above everyone else in my mother’s eyes. To have that rejection as a child is terrible.

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I felt it – but as a mature adult, with a loving husband to talk it through with. My sister had no one.

My husband and I formed a good life together. We have had hardships but come through them together. We have four children. We have a house, employment, stable if not abundant finances. We are good people raising good people. Many parents would be proud.

I probably would have cut her off but for the fact that my dad got sick. He was quiet and obedient to my mother, but I felt he was an ally and proud of the life we had created. He always said I should write a book on raising children.

To cut my mother off would have been to cut him off too. He had rapid onset Alzheimer’s. He deteriorated very quickly, passing six months after diagnosis. He wasn’t eating properly as his body couldn’t close his windpipe when swallowing. Eating became very difficult for him. He was wasting away.

This was the most difficult time to bear the lack of respect from my mother. Nothing I said or advised was taken into consideration. There just seemed to be no urgency in my dad’s treatment.

She seemed resigned to the fact that he was wasting away. There was not even a consultation with a nutritionist that I kept suggesting to try to get the appropriate nourishment for him.

By the time a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) was inserted into his stomach to feed him, he was too frail and died of pneumonia a few days after the operation.  This was a very difficult time for me personally too, as I was pregnant with my youngest child. I was quite ill and it was hard to visit due to my health and distance.

He died a few days before my son was born.

This is a period I try not to think about. When someone you love passes there are always thoughts of what more could have been done.

Contact was less and less. I cope by not sharing much of my life with her as this avoids most judgement. But the final straw for me was being slighted on yet another official form.

My sister and husband were listed as Power of Attorney. Understandable – they are in constant contact. The third person wasn’t me, but my uncle, who is older than my mother and someone she wouldn’t even let dog-sit due to his unreliability. I am lower in her eyes than the crazy uncle.

Meanwhile, my sister is coming here for Christmas with my mother for the first time to see our new house. Wish me luck.

Feature image: Getty.

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