13 Jun
How Do I Make My Mother Happy?

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I just graduated from high school and my mother and I are planning my graduation party. It’s supposed to be fun, but it’s only caused a lot of fighting and heartache. First it started with old school photos she wanted to display at the party. I just wanted the few photos that I like, but my mom wants to put ALL OF THEM–from kindergarten to now. Some of them are embarrassing pictures of me because I was a pretty chubby kid.

The other night, while I was in the middle of watching my favorite show, she pulled out the bag of pictures to show my father, little sister and me. She got offended at my lack of attention and the fact that I said some of the photos were embarrassing. But we said our good nights and it seemed as though nothing was wrong.

I woke up the next day and my mom pulls out a box of graduation goodies she ordered, suddenly commenting that I can just do everything by myself. I AM SO CONFUSED. In a harsh tone, she tells me that if I am so embarrassed about her work than I can do it all by myself. She won’t have anything to do with it. I cried and went to my room.

I called my dad to tell him the situation. He reassured me it will all be fine, but mom is the type where when she gets mad, you better stay out of her sight. My sister approached me and asked if I got in trouble, I nodded my head and told her “mom’s not gonna be at my party,” and she looked shocked.

I don’t know if my mom heard me tell my sister that, but suddenly my mom snapped. She came stomping out of her room and started yelling and throwing things. Then she said that we’re all not going to be able to live together in the house for the summer.  She jokes a lot about being sent to a mental institutition, but she said this time that she really needs to go.

Now I’m back in my room, crying a river. I want to get out of here but I can’t leave my sister. I am an honor student, involved in many activities and organizations, and I did not just complete 13 years of schooling for this shit. I don’t know what to do anymore.  If I am the problem in this equation, shouldn’t I be removed, permanently?

I guess I just wanted to tell someone – someone that wouldn’t risk repercussions. Thanks for listening.


Hurting and Confused Graduate


Dear Hurting and Confused Graduate,

Oof, my heart. I am so, so sorry that you are going through this during what should be a very exciting, happy time of your life. I feel the need to tell you congratulations on your graduation. Maybe set off some damn fireworks, girl. Despite the chaos that is surrounding you at the moment, this is something of which you should be proud. Take a moment to tell yourself how proud you are if no one else is doing it for you.

I don’t know your mother or your family dynamic, but I don’t need to see those things to understand that your mother is being emotionally manipulative and abusive. You should abso-freakin-lutely be able to tell your mother that you feel embarrassed without it initiating World War III. Your feelings are valid. That was not something your mother needed to take personally. What you endured says more about your mother’s feelings of validation, worthiness, and self-confidence and virtually NOTHING about you. So please also take a moment to tell yourself that: this is not about you. You are not a bad person. You are not a bad daughter. Your feelings are not bad. And while I don’t condone how your mother is treating you, I’m sure she loves you very much.

I feel so powerless trying to help you through a computer screen, so I want to offer you some resources that can be more reliable and immediate. Visit hopeline.com or call 1-800-442-HOPE if you’re feeling overwhelmed. I worry when you say that you need to be “removed, permanently” from this situation that you’re referring to suicide, and believe me when I say that the world is begging you not to. (Because, you aren’t the problem. You are valuable. You are loved. Hell, I love you because I feel your pain and I know you don’t deserve it. Anyone reading this will feel the same.) You can also call domestic violence hotlines because emotional abuse within the family falls into this category. Visit NCADV for local, state-based numbers, websites, and email addresses.

When you’re feeling especially lost, remember that this is temporary. Your life gets better. I swear. You may hear us crazy, old housewives whining all the time, but it’s all very much so worth it.

Take care of yourself,

Kristine, TMH

7 Responses to “How Do I Make My Mother Happy?”


Comment by Kim R..

Hugs to you, girl. Way to go!
I want to echo that there is NO way that you’re the problem. It’s completely her. It’s hard to know from this post if this was sudden or a regular thing with her. Maybe she’s freaking out because you’re going to college? Regardless, this is no way to handle it. Can you talk to your dad confidentially? Please find someone to support and encourage you. Remember, you are NOT the root of whatever issue she is dealing with. She may need help, but it’s not on you to bear that burden.


Comment by Desperate Dietwife.

Maybe your mother is very stressed out, even though it’s no excuse to take it all out on you. Maybe your remark on your childhood pics offended her because she associated them to a period of both your lives, and she thinks them cute.

Try to calm down and detach yourself from her attitude, it’s got nothing to do with you as a person.

Concentrate and write on a sheet of paper what you would like for your graduation party, how you would have things organised, etc. Write it all in detail, then submit it to your mother, father and sister. If your mum goes off her rocket, appeal to your father and be firm: she said you could organise it by yourself, this is how you’d want it to be. Ask for support from your father and sister and chances are she’ll want to be part of it, too. Don’t let her feel excluded, simply say that it’s your party, and this is what you would like to have.

Good luck! 🙂


Comment by MommyTime.

PLEASE know that you have every right to be proud of what you have accomplished and to celebrate that. If you feel you cannot talk in confidence to your father (in person, not over the phone) because he is in the middle of the situation too, then I would urge you to find someone else you can talk with. What adults in your life do you trust most to give you honest support? Perhaps a school guidance counselor or a favorite teacher? The parent of a very close friend? If all of them feel too close to the situation too, and you want someone “without repercussions,” then I strongly suggest that you call the school counselor for recommendations of someone impartial you can speak with. Even if school has just ended for the summer, there is at least a week where all the teachers are around tidying up, etc., so you should be able to get hold of someone.

Bottom line is: you need to find someone you can talk through all the details with, so that you can form a really solid and SPECIFIC plan that will help you feel better about this situation. And take heart, dear one. You are strong enough to know that you are not the problem, and yet you can find a solution. That is amazing.


Comment by StephanieG.

I have a sticky note on my desk that says simply this, “she’s way too wrapped up in herself to have this be about you.” I put it there because my boss was treating me the same way your mom is treating you right now. Sometimes you just have to step back and realize that the problem is the other person’s, and it’s theirs to fix.

As a mom, I can only begin to imagine how much I am going to freak out when my daughter graduates. The thought of her leaving me sends chills down my spine, and she’s not even in Junior High yet. I can’t imagine how whack job I’ll be when the time comes. I’m sure your mom is struggling with her feelings about you growing up and taking flight and she’s just not handling it well.

That’s not your fault, and it’s not your problem. Try to be reasonable and rational, and as hard as it is, try not to let emotions get in the way.

Growing up and leaving home isn’t easy, but it’s part of growing up. You and your mom both have some growing to do, and my hope for you is that you can weather this rough patch and come out friends on the other side.

Good luck.


Comment by Kelly.

I read a bit of wisdom recently that said, “Life does not lend itself well to major transitions.”

Your mom is being unreasonable and unfair to you and she’s making your graduation and party all about her. Instead of seeing this as your accomplishment and your launch into adulthood, she’s probably looking at it as the end of a lot of her responsibilities in raising you and a celebration that she raised a great person. She probably thinks your baby pictures are cute and she’s being too sensitive and taking it personally as a rejection of your childhood instead of understanding that you might not want them plastered all over the house.

I’m in my thirties, but I remember similar arguments with my mom during the summer between high school and the start of college. It was a pretty miserable time for both of us and my only encouragement is that it will get better once you launch the next stage of your life.

For now, do what you can to focus on the positive, and remember that this season will pass and there’s an awesome, big world out there that’s ready for you to show it what you’ve got. It’s about to get so great! 🙂


Comment by pgnadler.

There might be another side to this story. I have lived with three, “18 year old Honor students, involved in many activities and organizations”, trying to plan a graduation party. They wanted a fun party but were literally never home the last month because of all the senior parties and activities. All of the grunt work fell to me: cleaning the house (no, returning the scarf you borrowed in January does not count), grocery shopping (no, a chocolate fountain is not an entire party menu), addressing the invitations (no, Grandma cannot just be included in a group text). They did not like ANY of my ideas but had no appropriate suggestions of their own. Their idea? “Tap a keg (NO NO NO- so illegal!) in the basement (where you can’t see the underage drinking)and prop open the door. You make SUCH a big deal out of everything, MOM! Where are my favorite jeans? I hope you washed them. I’m leaving now, can I have some money for dinner? I don’t know when I will be home and my phone is dead. Don’t worry!” I’m not proud of it but sometimes I too suddenly snapped. Just writing this, I can’t believe I did it three times! Good luck to all of you.

My story does have a happy ending. At about age 25 their brain synapses connected and I calmed down. They are now my favorite people on the planet. Now all I bug them about is giving me grandkids- I can’t wait to watch that show. So there might be another side to this story. The Mom’s side. I’m just sayin’.


Comment by Been There.

I have been there, and could have written this letter when I was the writer’s age with a emotionally manipulative mother, and the more you become independent of your parents the better it gets. The most important thing to remember is that it is NOT your fault, you cannot make someone else happy. If you want, would it be possible to do a joint party with another friend who is graduating?

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