I Tell My Mom All of My Secrets

The day I flew home from Austin, my mother and I got into a massive fight. The kind of fight where doors slam and expletives are thrown at each other like weapons. The kind where my mother sobs and I bite my lip so hard it bleeds. The kind of fight we used to have when I was sixteen.

Like most fights, it started over a simple miscommunication. Apparently, while I was away Archer slept through the night, ate everything that was put in front of him and was happy and perfect and wonderful and "the most pleasurable human being to be around."

His perfect behavior ended the second I came home when immediately Archer turned to tantrums, refused to sleep or eat anything but cheerios.

"While you were gone I gave him 100% of my attention," my mother said. "Maybe that's why he was so good."

I took this to mean that because I was unable to give Archer 100% of my attention, I was a shitty mother and therefore my child hated me and refused to sleep or eat or be happy and that one day he would grow up to curse the day he had ever been born because I was unable to be the kind of mother my mom was, the kind who dropped everything for her children, whose world revolved around them...

That was when I exploded...

"Well, I'm sorry that I can't be the mother you were, okay?"

My mother then exploded back. Because that was not what she meant. Of course it wasn't. But I was inconsolable and hysterical and felt compelled to take all of my shit out on her. I had so much on my mind, so many secrets I was sick and tired of keeping. Bottles of anger and fear and emotion I hadn't the chance to expel until that moment.

And it felt good.

As a teenager, these epic mother-daughter battles would always end with my mother and I side by side on my bed, telling each other our secrets. I would open my journal up to her and read her my bad poetry until the sun rose and sometimes we would just lie next to one another, eyes swollen shut from crying, voices gone from screaming, holding hands and humming along to the stereo.

It had been years since we stayed up all night, fighting and screaming and crying and hugging and whispering.

"It's a school night," she would say. "You need to get up early." Except we'd keep talking. Because it felt good.

"Archer will be up, soon," She said to me the other night. "You really need your sleep." Eventually I did go to sleep. And I slept. I really slept, with a clear head and a free heart.

I have written many a time here and elsewhere about my fear of one day having a daughter. I believe in the bond between mother and son and always thought I would be a better mother with boys because I'm a better friend to boys and most often prefer their company over that of women. I was always afraid that I might give birth to myself, that karma would be the bitch that came back to haunt me. That one day like me, my daughter would turn 16 and go wild.

But in retrospect there was a lot more to my teenage-hood than that. There was a lot more to my relationship with my mother and her relationship with me...

There was an open window and two silhouettes holding hands through the night. And the one on the left was the daughter, telling her mother everything-- all her deepest secrets and the things she had kept even from herself. And on the right was the mother and all her wisdom and love, telling me everything would be okay.

And for the first time in my life, side by side next to my mother, stinking still of vodka tonics and cigarette smoke from my getaway, I looked up at the glow-in-the-dark stars of my old bedroom ceiling and thought, "maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have a daughter, someday." And I thought about collecting her secrets and sharing my stories with her.

And then I thought about being the kind of mom my mother was for me, for Archer and the possible children of Christmas future, the kind of mother you can have a breakdown with and be mended back with love, as a child, a teenager and even as an adult.

Because sometimes mothers need their mothers, too.



BOSSY | 9:02 AM

Bossy thinks this sacred bond can be between a son and a mother too.

Dallas Blue | 9:06 AM

Beautiful. You're so lucky to have a mother and a son like you do. That's three generation of astoundingly fantastic people. I'm glad it brought you some peace of mind!


Bossy- totally, but I have always written about my bond with my son and my love of boys and men... My epiphany came from realizing that the bond between mother and daughter is different and lovely.

And that I don't have to be afraid of it anymore.

Anonymous | 10:21 AM

Because sometimes mothers need their mothers, too.


Motherhood Uncensored | 10:35 AM

We all need our mothers -- I just wish mine was more available.

I love reading stories about your parents.

They're inspiring people.

Shannon | 10:38 AM

gorgeous. I loved this and I FEEL it so much. Thank you.

Anonymous | 10:43 AM

You are so lucky to have been able to share everything with your mom as a teenager. I kept so many secrets from my mom, out of necessity (I thought), and our fights always ended in resentment. I was so ready to leave by the time I flew across the country for college. We are getting closer now, but we definitely don't have that close bond... we would never even lay on a bed together, much less tell each other secrets. your relationship with your mom amazes me.
and after saying all that, this probably won't help... but I would have taken your mom's comment the wrong way too.... so don't feel bad.

Anonymous | 10:46 AM

That was BEAUTIFUL. I have been there as the daughter, and I hope to be as good at playing the other side someday to my own daughter as your mother seems to do.

Okay. Time to wipe the tears and go about my day...

Anonymous | 11:16 AM

I love love LOVE this post...especially the last sentence.

foodiemama | 11:39 AM

words of wisdom! although i would never tell my mo many secrets of mine heehee...she's the kind to use it against me..i have the same fear of having a girl...a huge fear in fact!

Anonymous | 11:39 AM

I'm afraid of daughters, for many of the same reasons you were, except one important one. You thought that the daughter you were would come back to haunt you..... and I'm afraid I will be like my mother. Your Mom sounds amazing, and from what I've read of your blog, she's passed it on to you. When I get around to having kids, if I have a daughter, I'll just send her to you. ;-)

Anonymous | 12:54 PM

Ack. Sniff. I wonder, too, what it would be like to have a daughter-- and how it may be different from the bond I have with my son. In two more months, I may find out...

angie | 2:17 PM

Yeah, for what its worth.. when I visit my mother, my daughter is an ANGEL for her. Sleeps thru the night, takes awesome naps, and eats everything in sight. For me, it's the total opposite. With their mothers, they know they can be rotten as hell and we'll always love them. They don't know yet that grandma will too. So they don't push the boundries with them as much.

It's hard.. but your epiphany was beautiful, and so true. I am a 27 year old mother of one, and I too need my mother.

joker the lurcher | 2:38 PM

this is very powerful stuff. i am glad i had a son given how things were for me...

Amie Adams | 2:45 PM

I have a VERY similar relationship with my mom and ditto on the guys for friends thing, but I was so afraid of having boys (three of em now) because I thought I'd miss out on that incredible bond I have with my mom. I'm learning I can have it.

This was such a wonderful post!!

Anonymous | 4:04 PM

awesome post!! i have that type of relationship with my 17 year-old daughter. i had her when i was 16, so we have kind of grown up together. we have not only stayed up all night crying, lied next to each other with our swollen shut from crying, but we even cried ourselves to sleep in each other's arms. last night in fact.


Anonymous | 4:44 PM

one other thing i wanted to mention is Kelli & i love to go to the park & walk & talk & cry our eyes out together about any & everything imaginable. we'll be walking, holding hand, carrying our sandals in the other hand while walking barefoot. we're very close & love doing things like that.


motherbumper | 4:52 PM

You are a very lucky woman to have that kind of relationship with your mom. I sometimes freak myself out thinking about the things my daughter might experience and take out on me but I look forward to having the kind of bond you described so well with your wonderful post.

myredwagon | 5:00 PM

Thanks for sharing this story. My mother means everything to me, and if she said what your mom said to you I would have a very similar reaction.

Fairly Odd Mother | 6:27 PM

My oldest daughter can get me going like nothing else---and she is 6---god help me when she is 16. But I also feel her anger and pain and confusion b/c it seems like only yesterday I was the child and not the mother. You are lucky to have a mother like the one you do. Many do the yelling but not the making up.

Anonymous | 8:39 PM

i just put a hex on my 12 year old daughter at dinner. she was in the middle of one of her moments and i waved my hands in her face and said "may you have a thousand daughters!!" and i mean it.~jjlibra

Anonymous | 4:45 AM

As a mother of three boys (one in utero), and as a daughter who was left by her mother at 16, never to return again, this touched my soul. Yes, sometimes mothers DO need their mothers.

Shelli | 6:12 AM

"I was always afraid that I might give birth to myself, that karma would be the bitch that came back to haunt me."

You hit the nail on the head with that quote Rebecca... I have one son and although I have been trying like heck to have a second child, having a girl scares the living bejesus out of me.

Seems like we have the same relationship with our Moms too. When I get over the short-lived anger of an argument, I realize how lucky I am to have her.

Great post :)

Anonymous | 11:03 AM

I love this post, because this is something I would do and something my mother would say to me. In fact she has said the exact same words and I blew up, too.

I only wish I could tell my mother my secrets. That's just not an option.

Anonymous | 5:05 PM

I went through a similar transformation in the last year. When I was pregnant with Caleb I wanted a boy so bad it hurt. I was terrified of having a girl and dealing with the angst and knock- down- drag- out hysterics that were a part of my daily life as a teen. The thought of having 2 or 3 daughters (like my mom) made me ill. I realized recently though, that I am not my mom. I am a completely different mother than my mom was. She was a teenager when she had me and she has always held a lot of resentment for the things she lost by choosing to keep me. Then I began to hope and wish for a daughter. Maybe part of me wanted a chance to have a mother-daughter relationship again and do it differently? I don't know. But when they said "Boy" at the ultrasound this time I sobbed for the daughter I wouldn't have, and then later sighed a huge sigh of relief. Deep in my heart though I know that the fact that we are having another boy is a good thing. I think I was meant to be a mom of boys.

S.T. | 8:30 PM

When I found out my first baby was a girl, I was disappointed and let down. I was really hoping for a boy. I had mostly male friends, I got along with males better, and I didn't think I could be a good, close, loving mother to a girl. Well, all that flew out the window when I first laid eyes on my baby girl and I instantly fell deeply, madly in love with her and discovered that being a mom of a girl is the easiest thing in the world (So far! She's only 6 1/2! ;)) I just hope she and I have the same kind of relationship that you and your mom have.


I love that, Shannon. Beautiful-- made me cry. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous | 4:07 PM

One of the reasons my relationship with my mother is bad is due to her inhability to keep my secrets. Since I was a kid that every time I showed her a little bit of my world, of my thoughts, of what I have done that day, there would always be criticisms, even disappointment with the way I behaved, the choices I made. And every time I wanted to share something with her, she would give her opinion (she was never able to just listen), and she would always tell my father within hours. I grew up closed in my own world, not sharing it with her, not creating a true bond between us. She is my mother and we will always have a bond, but that is it...I would not choose my mother as my friend. In spite of this, and although I always got along with boys better than with girls, I truly whish I can have a daughter someday. I want to have with her what you have with your mother and what I didn't have with mine.

Anonymous | 6:47 AM

"As a teenager, these epic mother-daughter battles would always end with my mother and I side by side on my bed, telling each other our secrets. I would open my journal up to her and read her my bad poetry until the sun rose and sometimes we would just lie next to one another, eyes swollen shut from crying, voices gone from screaming, holding hands and humming along to the stereo."

I barely have the words to tell you how reading this made me feel. My Mother was completely closed-off, emotionally. We were not allowed any kind of drama at home, no temper tantrums or slamming doors, and there was never, EVER, hand-holding of any kind. We could have all the secrets we wanted as long as we didn't ask her ANYTHING personal. I don't know how I have managed to get a husband and three children who are actually capable of love with that kind of background.

Anonymous | 2:29 PM

You are very lucky to have that kind of relationship with your mom. Hold on to it. And to me it sounds like a great basis from which to be a great parent... of girls or boys.

Archer throws tantrums with you exactly because he feels secure enough to let all the emotion out, just like you feel with your mom. It doesn't have anything to do with time or attention, toddlers just melt down with those they are closest to. (I know it's painful.)

Sounds like you are queen mom to me.