My Pants and My Mom

My Science Fair presentation is coming up on Thursday. I was trying on clothes in front of my mom, as she decides what I’m allowed to wear and what I’m not allowed to wear. It was getting late, and I suggested a pair of black pants I wore to a friend’s wedding over the summer. She wasn’t happy with this, as she wanted me to wear another pair of looser pants, but she angrily asked me to try the black pants on anyway.

I put on the black pants, my heart pulsing.

I turned to face her. Her face was a thunderstorm of emotions, precipitating the rage that was sure to come.

“Do you think they’re too tight?” she asked, and from her tone of voice, I knew she expected me to say yes. “I think they’re too tight.”

I knew that what I said then would decide everything. Whether I would give up and be obedient, or whether I would dare try to say something against my mom’s wishes.

“I think they’re fine,” I said, as I felt my heart beat, hope and fear combining in my chest.

“What!?” she said, outraged.

I had expected this, but her outburst of indignation still took be my surprise.

“Always disagreeing with me! Always bringing trouble to the family!” she screamed. She glared at me, and I hoped then that she wouldn’t hurt me.

This is usually when I would give up. She would keep screaming and throwing insults at me like knives, and I would give up and break down and cry. But this time was different. This time, I wasn’t backing down.

I stood there.

“Do you see how stupid you look? How ugly? You look like you’re the ugliest person on the planet! Your older brother never did anything like this, you stupid boy!” she continued to scream.

I stood there.

“You are the ugliest and most stupid person I have ever met! Always so rude and disagreeing with me! Always being a brat! Do you think you have anything to show off? You look like a stupid idiot!”

The thing is, these things hurt me. I’m not going to lie. I self-deprecate a lot, but the words really hurt when they come from someone who actually meant them. My mom has yelled at me more times than I can count on my fingers and toes, and yet each time it hurt anew, like a wound bursting open, fresh blood spilling everywhere.

“Do you think you have anything to show off? You’re so ugly and stupid! You don’t know anything! Always mumbling like a stupid idiot!”

But then it dawned on me. Here was my mom, yelling at me for saying that I thought my pants looked fine, cursing me for being born because the clothes I wanted to wear didn’t match her preferences. It struck me as a little disturbing how I felt so emotionally affected by this when in fact, there were people out there who had it much worse.

I understand where my mom is coming from. I think she’s scared that if I wear clothes that are tight (trust me, the pants weren’t even tight) that I’ll get raped or assaulted or something. And the only way she can express that is by yelling at me, insulting me, and knocking me down. She simply cannot communicate in any other way. I understand.

But she won’t listen. She doesn’t understand how hard I try in school, how much effort I put into my assignments. She won’t listen to me when I talk or try to reason. She just shuts me down and tells me I’m worthless and pathetic. People see what they want to see, and honestly, I’m not the son she wants to see.

She sure tries to make me that son though. She always has. If I wanted to take a regular math course instead of an honors one? Nope, don’t disgrace your family by wasting your potential. If I wanted to wear a v-neck shirt? Nope, you’re too ugly and people might think you’re girly or gay by wearing that. If I wanted to go out with friends? Nope, your friends are bad influences and you need more time to study.

I always knew on the inside that if I tried to be myself around my mom – the guy that sings Lady Gaga randomly or enjoys reading trashy romance novels on occasion – that she would force me to change or kick me out. It isn’t until now, though, that I’m finally realizing that no matter how much I want to be me, she’ll never see me. She’ll only see the son that was supposed to bring her happiness, the son who was supposed to respect her and obey her no matter what.

I’m not that son. I never will be. All I can do now, I suppose, is to fake the facade she would rather see. It’s all I can do, because if I tried anything else, it would only lead to more conflict and confrontation.

My hope is that when I go to college or strike out on my own, I’ll be able to be who I want to be. That promise of freedom, really, is what keeps me going every day – it’s a major factor in why I apply myself so assiduously, why I study for the SAT like my life depends on it, why I read and read and read – because of that hope that there is a world out there that will accept me as I am, and that I will be able to be a part of it.

And the pants? I started writing this at 11:45 PM, and it’s 12:05 AM now. I tried on clothing for her from 10:30 PM to 11:30 PM. By 11:30, she had actually given up for once. She had told me to go downstairs with whatever clothes I wanted, because she was too tired to deal with such a waste of her time.

I should feel victorious – ha, timid Thomas actually gets away with disrespecting his Asian mom – but the feeling is shallow. Come morning, I don’t know whether her mood will be worse or if it will mellow out. I don’t know what I will get from publishing this post either, though writing it has certainly helped me achieve catharsis. Once again, it comes down to same thing, that flicker in the night sky of my angst-filled familial sorrow.

Hope.

*edit: so it’s a little ironic how I posted this right after I posted about being careful about what you post… but honestly, I want people to read this. To see why I care so much about doing well in school and issues like child abuse. If I could be so hurt by her words, then it is horrible how much pain others must have to suffer who have it worse than me. Truly, truly horrible.

*edit 2: here’s the second part of the “story” if you want to check it out.

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24 Comments

Filed under Personal

24 responses to “My Pants and My Mom

  1. Thomas, this is so truthful. I’m so surprised you were treated this badly…
    I know it takes a lot of courage to write these kinds of things, and I think you did a good job posting this; you had to get it out, right? That’s kind of how I felt, at least.
    I don’t want to bash on your mom, so I just want to tell you that you did what had to be done and you’re perfect the way you are. Don’t let others label you. And I bet deep down, you’re mom is not as bad as she seems (:

    I hope this made you feel a little better, if at all. 😉

    P.S. Please don’t ask why I’m up at this hour, haha..

    • Thanks for the support Janice. Like others have stated, I really did have to get it out right away – a lot of the time my mom does these things and I keep it inside of me and then talk about it later, but I wanted to get all of the details right. I missed a few, like some of her more threatening statements, but I think the people who have read this got the point.

      PS: It’s awesome that you posted this comment at 1:23 AM… it must be magic. (:

  2. Merris

    Wow.for once,your post was very revealing(in an outspoken kinda sense). From the previous posts that I have read, I never realized the extent of pressure to which you live your life with. I’m very sure the reason you actually wrote this post was because you need to somehow release that pent-up frustration and anger you felt from your mother’s words. Well you know what, some people just have their own way of expressing worry for their loved ones I guess. My mom treats me somewhat similiar to yours when she’s angry. I was at first deeply hurt and insulted,but then as I grow up, I got used to it and even managed to learn to ignore her words because I know she didn’t really mean it and that she was just caught at the heat of the moment. I bet its the same for your mom too. She wouldn’t have meant what she said to you.

    • Hm, yes, I suppose I did write this post as a means of catharsis and to show people what I mean when I say that my mom is more than simply strict. I know that what she actually said during that time – about how ugly and stupid I was – may not have been actually meant, but the underlying message was. I know that I’m not who she wants me to be, and she knows that, but she doesn’t outright say it… she just melds it into her mean words. But, regardless, I will one day be able to manage to learn to ignore her words as well. It used to be much worse, as I would always cry and do other things than just feel sad.

      Anyway, enough of that sad stuff, thank you for your support Merris!

  3. Oh Thomas. I want to say two things to this. The first is that I didn’t have an easy relationship with my mother. I think she found it hard to accept that I was growing up and she couldn’t control me or my life anymore (I should also point out that I was NOTHING like you when I was younger – I was a terribly badly behaved teenager and I must have been incredibly difficult to live with.) It took her until I was 24 to fully accept that I was an adult and by that time I was pregnant with my second child! It’s hard for mothers to accept, after years of doing everything for their child, that the child is growing up and beyond their control; and it WILL happen. Soon, as you said, you’ll be at college. And one day, either your mom will realise how wonderful you are, or you will realise that your sense of self-worth doesn’t stem from her. It will come from you, and the lucky person who you choose to spend your life with.

    The second thing I wanted to say is this: I know we don’t know each other really. I only get to see the you that you show me on this blog. But I like the you that you show me on this blog. And from the many personal posts of yours that I’ve read, I know this – I’d be proud to have you as my son.

    • Aw, Ruth, you really have a way with words – I am unable to express how much I appreciate your kindness. Your message in that first paragraph was beautifully stated, and as cliche as it may sound, I really am touched by your sentiment in the second paragraph. Hurry up and get your book published so I can read it! (;

  4. I am so sorry. No one has the right to say those kinds of things, and especially to their child. College is where I totally found myself and was the first place I could be who I am.

  5. First of all, I will say this: if I were there with you I would give you a giant hug.

    I think your mother should seek therapy, she seems incredibly high-strung… Not only for her sake but for the sake of those around her. My mom gets like that, too, (or at least she used to… once she blew up at me and called me the devil because I didn’t do the dishes… and that my terrible acne was the physical manifestation of my inner evil… She also used to accuse me of being a lesbian when I wanted to get a haircut. Granted that was a year or so ago, and she’s started a new diet which made her mellow out significantly.)

    What I don’t understand is how you could be so cruel to your child. I know that there are the cultural differences, and there’s the whole importance of honoring your family and whatnot that you seem to be subjected to constantly. But there is absolutely no excuse for treating someone like that. Sometimes we get so mad that we just want to curse everyone off and call them names but that doesn’t mean it’s okay.

    Why on earth would you want your kids to be afraid of you to the point where they do everything you ask? I just can’t comprehend it, honestly. If I ever choose to have kids, I would make sure they weren’t afraid of me. I wouldn’t let them just do whatever they want, of course, but I wouldn’t achieve that authority by making them feel like shit (pardon my French).

    Like Ruth said above, I would also be proud to have you as a son. (We could have Lady Gaga karaoke, that would be fun.) And I hope you’re okay after that, Thomas. I know it’s hard to just disregard what your mom said, but I hope you know that you’re awesome and don’t let her bring you down, okay? 😀

    • Thank you for the kind words, God. (: I really do appreciate them though, I think acts similarly to how your mom used to act but it’s more of a cycle with her. I’m learning about the chemicals that cause mood swings in AP Psychology and while taking notes I am constantly thinking about my mom. Go figure.

      That makes two of us who will raise children (if we have them) that won’t be afraid of us! I would want kids who are respectful and polite, but definitely not scared.

  6. Cara

    If I could Thomas I would give you a bear hug. It was actually kind of hard for me to read this because what I do know about you from this side of the screen is that you are kind, and work really hard.
    She will always be your mom and I’m so glad that you noticing that may be the only way she can express herself. I hope today is better and thank you so much for writing this post.

  7. I don’t think you understand. Or not completely. Pants are minor details. Definitely not worth an hour of yelling if you were actually “useless” or “ugly” or an “idiot” in the eyes of your mother. You mentioned how she wanted you to take honors because she wants you to reach your full potential. She wants you to be the best because she cares for you. Even though it may not be the the “true you” at least it’s some part of you. Doing well in school is a large part of the “true you” too, isn’t it?
    I guess what I am trying to say is that really, I don’t know you or your mother. I just hope that you find a way to get along. It’s okay to be scared of conflict if you try anything; it is not okay to not reach out because of that fear. If she won’t listen and you give up trying to get her to listen, then things between you both will stay the same forever. If you want that. I know how hard it is to confront people, especially when they don’t listen. Write a letter to her about how you feel when she verbally abuses you. Ask her in a recording if she enjoys calling you names because of a small disagreement. Question her true motives, not any assumed ones, through a video.
    If after all that, after you have tried everything you truly think was possible, then be happy knowing that you attempted, no matter the outcome.

    • I have tried to get her to listen – and the results are not pretty enough to post on the internet. However, I have been debating doing some of the things you suggested, such as the thing with the video camera, but I never have the opportunity because such screaming usually occurs unexpectedly or in a place where I am unprotected.

      Thank you for throwing in your two cents though, I will reflect upon your comment and perhaps discuss the results if I do decide to take a course of action similar to what you have suggested. (:

  8. This must not have been easy to write and I thank you for sharing this with us. I admired how you stood up to her and to me that shows that you don’t give in even though you know you should to what she wants you to do to keep her happy and good tempered.
    I suppose everyone has their own way of expressing their love and this would be you’re mom’s but that gives her no excuse for treating you so badly! And it’s mean to compare you to your brother.
    I, too, don’t know you personally but I believe what a person writes reflects who he is and having read your blog for while now I deduce that you are an intelligent young man, you don’t seem the type to slack off, drink alcohol or misbehave but quite the opposite, she should be proud to have a son like you. Not everyone is as fortunate and I know because I’ve seen this for myself.

    Well, I think it’s good that you know why she wants you to dress the way she wants you to but her words … are just wrong, and you remember that Thomas, her words are just out of anger and they are not true. They do not reflect who you are, because you know that you’re the opposite of their very meaning.

    I know you’ll make it to a great collage and I hope that when you do get there that you’ll actually have the chance and the choice to be you, so the world knows that you’re that cool dude, who sings Lady Gaga at the top of his voice and reads as much trashy romance books he wants, and not have a problem with that.
    Be strong, my friend, you’ll get through this. I hope the day will come that your mother will come to realize how terribly mistaken she was.
    I hope you feel better, Thomas, and that things get better too I really do.
    Be you and don’t ever change because you’re awesome as you are.

    • Thanks so much Devina, you know I take your comments to heart because you have read a myriad of my material, and like you said, a person can get a pretty good reflection of another person through reading their writing.

      I am keeping my chin up!

  9. I can’t really take sides, but I think you can just take your mom’s words with a grain of salt. Though I suppose she’s really scary, so I admire that you don’t resort to talking back, or speaking ill of your mom, because you know what can happen if another parent had done that with their child.

    Although I kindof envy your mom, actually. Maybe my brother and I were just too pampered by our parents. They were very lenient, and tolerating, and now sometimes, I find myself wishing they had pressured us earlier on to excel, or to nurture our potentials. They have given us much freedom to do what we want. I’ve been thinking, they shouldn’t have done that until we were mature enough. We easily got to do what we want to do; even if it’s foolish. We easily got to avoid things we don’t want to do; even if it’s something that should benefit us.

    You know, I believe your mom has given you a good drive to excel and be the bright student that you are now. Her words may hurt you at times. You may deem her expectations are too high. But I suggest you just go through with it. Just try to get the best out of it. After all, that state you have with your mom? it wouldn’t last forever. Pretty soon, you’ll have your own life, and make your own decisions.

    • Thanks for the support Kath, what you’ve said here is quite similar to what I talked about in my follow-up to this post. There are pros and cons to having my mom as a parent, and while in this circumstance the con outshone the pros, there are always instances of the reverse kind. You don’t seem as if you’ve matured into a wild, party girl though – you seem intelligent and thoughtful, so your parents must have at least done something right. However, I understand your objection to their parenting style, and once again thank you for your kind comment!

  10. Pingback: My Pants and My Mom, Part 2 (the Happy Anti-Ending) | the quiet voice

  11. 😦 aw, it IS really hard to go against mom. I guess some people would not concur, but I would stick it out, just as you have, and wait for college. I used to have a similar shopping situation, but nowadays, my mother has finally acknowledged we have radically different styles and has stopped saying anything except giving disapproving looks. ^^. I gave up on wearing baggy pants, everything in my closet are either tights or skinny pants. I wonder why mainstream men’s fashion is still quite conservative while women’s fashions are encouraged that the tighter the better.. also, it makes me sad that men cannot really wear boots unless they are rocking the whole Southern image.. I think tall boots + tights = God’s gift to lazy women (random thoughts o.0).

    stay strong!
    Michelle

    • I will stick it out, thanks Michelle. (: As for the men’s vs women’s fashion, I think society has a more masculine image of men, in that they aren’t supposed to spend time on fashion and planning what they wear. Like with women in the late 1920’s, they struck out against societal norms by donning short(er) skirts and showing more skin, hence the flapper image. I guess girls have an advantage when it comes to choosing their own clothes!

      Thank you for your thoughts as always!

  12. Pingback: Process | the quiet voice

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