A Time to Smile

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 12th Apr 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2hbi5z9t/
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Mental Health

She was intimidating, she was big, she was strange, and I was afraid of her. Not afraid that she would hurt me but afraid that I would disappoint her. I always disappointed her. I was 9-years-old and she was my mother. I hardly knew her.


I was 9-years-old and she was my mother. I hardly knew her. I lived with my grandmother. We lived in a different world. I was poor, my mother was rich, or at least she led on to believe that she was. She flaunted her money. She tried to entice me with it. She shattered the security of my home, reminding me that we were different. "I didn't live right because we didn't have money, we didn't have nice things, we didn't live in a nice neighborhood, and I didn't say the right things, I didn't do the right things." These were the impressions she left upon me whenever I was around her. I was not right; somehow I was wrong, everything I did was wrong.

What was wrong with me

What was wrong with me? I was a good little girl. I tried to please her I tried to please everyone. I just couldn't get it right. So I would go to her house on invitation. I never wanted to go. I would rather stay home with my grandmother where life was good; where I could feel safe and secure and where I could be me, flaws and all. Yet out of duty, I knew that I must go visit my mother from time to time. It was my duty as a good daughter; it was her duty to accept me as a mother. It was a game we played. I knew it, she knew it we did it. Her world was so different from mine, so menacing; I didn't understand, I didn't fit in. She spoke English to me but she spoke French to everyone else.

Some of the French I understood, some I did not, but I would not speak it. I did not want to say it wrong, I did not want to be corrected and made to feel stupid; I did not want to disappoint her. But I feel that I did disappoint her. I was a constant reminder of a mistake she had made in her youth.

She expected me to socialize with her friends. She expected me to be the happy-go-lucky child that my sister was. She expected me to be my sister. I was not my sister. I was not French. I was not even Roman Catholic. I was not chatty and bubbly and I didn't capture the hearts of every person that laid eyes on me. I was not Linda. Why couldn't she see that? Why couldn't she see me? Why was I not allowed to be me, the shy little girl, who was very serious, and had a heart of gold? I gave everything that I had, but I did it in my own way. I didn't smile on demand I didn't perform on demand. I did when I was moved to do it, and when I did, it made up for any time that I might have missed a prompt considered necessary by others. My heart was good, I was good, I just wasn't the "up in your face person" that my sister Linda was. I was not the life of the party. Linda did what she did naturally; it was not natural for me. I was forced to be someone that I was not. I didn't like it. It didn't feel right. I was not comfortable. Whenever I tried, it did not come out right, I was always wrong. I always disappointed her (my mother). I was a failure.

A Time to Smile

Christmas would approach. She would have all these strangers there. It was intimidating. I wanted to crawl under the bed and just hide. I didn't want to meet these strangers. I didn't want to perform. I didn't want to pretend to be happy. How can you pretend to be happy anyhow? You are happy, or you are not, am I not right on this? I guess that I was not right because my mother said that I must greet these people at the door and I must be happy. So I am wrong. It is me who is wrong; it is me who does not know how to behave. It is me who does not know how to live right. "Carol, I want you to answer the door every time it rings. I want you to say, Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee. I want you to shake the person's hand, and for God sakes Carol, put a smile on your face for once." I went through the motions, but I was afraid, so afraid. I was afraid of these people. I didn't know them, I couldn't speak their language, and I didn't want to know them. Yet, I had to get the greeting done just right, or she would be disappointed. Linda did it so easily; she would carry on conversations with these people. They would ooh and awe over her. They looked at me with pity showing in their eyes. Linda was also French not English like me.

I was the oddball. I didn't fit in. My mother would explain that I was not like Linda, I was the quiet one, I was the serious one, and I didn't speak French. That seemed to appease them. "Okay they thought, she doesn't speak French, that is why she is so anti-social, that is why she is so weird." I hated the control; I hated to be made to do something that I did not want to do. I have always hated that all my life. I will not do what I do not want to do. But I may still feel like an oddball, like I just don't fit in. I fight that feeling constantly, I put it in perspective, and I challenge myself. Is this feeling valid in my adult life, or is it the little girl in me reacting to a time, long ago? When I know my answer, I will act accordingly. I grew up and my mother continued to invite me to Christmas festivities. But this time I took control, I told her that I appreciate she has lots of friends, but I am not comfortable in the presence of people that I don't know and will never see again.

Each year I was introduced to new faces, new people. I never remembered them after I left her house. It may have been the mailman, or the great aunt of the cousin of the neighbor next door. It did not matter to me. These people were not part of my world, nor did I want them to be. I was the creator of my own world. I had a right to create my own world. My mom understood. I was surprised. For years after she had the Christmas festivities with just the family. I enjoyed that. I looked forward to that. I actually liked that.

Then, I met Matt, the love of my life. He is different he is an oddball. He is handicapped; he is part Jewish and part Arab. He like me, and my grown up son, did not speak fluently in French. We went to the Christmas festivities at my mother's house. He enjoyed himself. Mother didn't enjoy him. She asked me not to bring him the second year. I told her that I would no longer come. I could not be there without him. I could not be there and put a false smile on my face when I didn't want to. I will never put a false smile on my face again. I will not allow someone else to dictate to me how I must feel, or act or be. If I am wrong this time, so be it for to be it is a "good wrong".

All photos taken from the public domain

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Being Your Own Person, Christmas, Christmas Celebration, Forced To Smile, Not Fitting In, Smile, Smiling, Smiling Face

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
12th Apr 2015 (#)

Sad when families do not hold together.

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author avatar WOGIAM
12th Apr 2015 (#)

I hope you were able to get over your mothers's issues and complexities without too much hurt to yourself. Things like this very sadly happen in life.

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author avatar vpaulose
12th Apr 2015 (#)

A smiling STAR! thank you dear Carol

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author avatar Kingwell
13th Apr 2015 (#)

Why do parents expect one child to be like another? We must be allowed to be ourselves. Blessings.

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author avatar Retired
13th Apr 2015 (#)

This is what I call "Fantastic Flawless Writing!"
Thumbs up!

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author avatar Shamarie
13th Apr 2015 (#)

Outstanding post, Carol!!!

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