"His Mother Is Tearing Us Apart"
His Turn"Guilty as Charged"
"My mother is guilty as charged," admitted John, a 36-year-old architect, with a heavy sigh. "She's a huge embarrassment, the type of person who throws a fit if she has to wait for a table at a restaurant. No favor or gift is ever without strings attached. If she doesn't get her way, she'll mention the toys she bought for our daughters and accuse me of being ungrateful.
"The crux of the problem is that Mom is angry that I won't grant her an all-access pass to my life. So she lashes out, which pushes me away even further. As her only child, I feel obligated to have a cordial relationship, but I don't want a close one. I resent her being absent when I was young, and I dislike her personality.
"I'm the consequence of a fling my mother had when she was a 16-year-old cheerleader. My father was a football player. They got married but split after 18 months. Mom left me here in Baltimore with her parents, while she went off to find herself in New York City. My father was never in my life at all. I saw Mom periodically when she came to visit, but when I was 14, she returned for good, and I went to live with her. Not surprisingly, we didn't get along. She acted like she had been around my entire life, and I knew better. Mom was possessive, emotionally needy, and a screamer. She badmouthed my grandparents and tried to turn me against them.
"When I met Kathy I fell in love fast. She not only was beautiful, with wavy brown hair and sparkling green eyes, but she had a warm, caring personality. I knew immediately she'd be a wonderful wife and mother, and I was right. We had a great marriage until my mother moved back here from Seattle and started interfering.
"She phones so often that we had to get caller ID to screen calls. It's true that I let weeks go by before I get back to her, because the conversations always follow the same unpleasant script: Mom complains about our relationship, then invites herself over. If I say no, she lambastes me. Is it any wonder I avoid her?