Brenda’s* mother has been jealous of her since she was a child. The 38-year-old shares how the jealousy has played out over the years, including the times when her mum tried to sabotage her marriage and job. As told to Melissa Wong.
“I’ve always been envious of women who are close to their mums. Unlike them, I can’t say that my mother is like my sister or my best friend. In fact, I’d compare Mum to a frenemy – someone who appears to care for their friends, but deep down, dislikes or even resents them.
The way I see it, Mum resented me even before I was born. She told me that she wanted a son and was disappointed when she learnt that she was expecting a girl. She also almost died giving birth to me, and because of those complications was advised against having more children.
As a baby I also had a lot of health problems, so Mum had to give up a well-paying job in order to stay home and look after me. As I was growing up, I remember her blaming me for standing in the way of her career. ‘If it weren’t for you I’d be working right now’, she’d say.
A miserable childhood
Mum was never physically abusive towards me I was a child, but she did criticise me a lot and her harsh words made me feel small and insignificant. I thought this was normal until I witnessed how my friends’ mothers treated them and I began to question my mum’s motives for treating me as she did.
I feel that Mum held me back from achieving my potential as a child and stood in my way of accomplishing my dreams. For instance, as a pre-teen, I showed promise as a tennis player and was very much into athletics, but she refused to give me the extra help I needed to go further in sports. She said that I belonged behind a desk, not on a tennis court or running track. It was hurtful watching my friends at their practice sessions and seeing their parents cheering them on and encouraging them.
As a teenager, I wasn’t allowed to date, wear trendy clothes or hang out at the mall with my classmates. Mum was strict with me, and became even more so after my father passed away when I was 17. But I never rebelled during my teenage years. As angry as I was with Mum I obeyed her rules and never talked back or argued with her.