Thought Catalog

Things My Mother Couldn’t Teach Me

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My mother has been teaching me since the moment I was born.

As an infant, she taught me that my fits would be answered with comfort.

As a child, she taught me how to ask questions, how to use manners, how to read.

As a teen, my mother taught me how to act as a lady:

To always sit with your legs closed, even while wearing pants.

And, that while wearing a skirt, how to bend down, not over, to pick something up off the ground.

And to always wear panty hose with dresses and skirts. And never let your navel show. And never wear dark eye liner on my lower eye lids. To shave my legs the day before going to the beach, or the salt water will sting the open wounds.

But, there was a lot that she could never teach me. Lessons I had to learn on my own.

She taught me to never let a lover hit me, to never let him speak badly to me. But when the abuse was unintentional neglect, she couldn’t teach me how to say, “that’s not enough.”

She told me to never make myself too available, to always keep a little something for myself. But she couldn’t teach me to stay away. She couldn’t teach me how to not give everything away up front.

My mother taught me that sex was dangerous. She taught me that, given the opportunity, a man would use me for his own gain. But she couldn’t teach me that sex happens without ulterior motives. She couldn’t teach me not to judge everyone who touched me with suspicion.

She could never teach me that it is okay to love myself. That I should study my body and to find what feels right. That I am deserving of gratification. That I have to stand up for myself and ask for what is due to me. She just taught me how to be resentful.

She couldn’t teach me how to be honest in my relationships. She couldn’t teach me how to work on things. She just taught me to pick up and start over again.

And now I stare into eyes that stare back into mine and ask me a simple question, that ask me why can’t you fight for us. And I can’t say anything. I can’t fight. Because it’s not in me. She never taught me how to fight.

She taught me how to walk away.

And now that I’m leaving you, I feel like I’m learning to walk on my own again. I stumble and I trip over every memory I have of you, over every part of me you’ve touched.

But this pain that I carry, it’s mine, it’s of my own doing. My mother taught me a lot of things, but she couldn’t teach me to love what’s good for me.

She taught me that it’s not a lesson until it hurts. And this f-cking hurts. TC mark

image – Shutterstock

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    • Eli

      You’re not alone.

    • Mina

       I second Eli’s comment.  This part resonated with the most:

      “And now that I’m leaving you, I feel like I’m learning to walk on my
      own again. I stumble and I trip over every memory I have of you, over
      every part of me you’ve touched.
      But this pain that I carry, it’s mine, it’s of my own doing. My
      mother taught me a lot of things, but she couldn’t teach me to love
      what’s good for me.

      She taught me that it’s not a lesson until it hurts. And this f-cking hurts.”Thank you for putting into words what I couldn’t say/admit.

    • cheeseplatter

      my mother couldn’t teach me how to put in a tampon. i had to figure that one out for myself.
      “And this f-cking hurts”

    • Caro

      everyone has to figure stuff out on their own.  it’s called life.  your life.  not sure how old you are, but it’s probably old enough to stop blaming your parents for not having paved a perfectly smooth road for you.  it sounds like your mother cared about you,  and now most things are your responsibility at this point.  try and get over your entitlement and self-victimization…

      • Em

        I really don’t believe the author was victimizing herself; rather, she was just reflecting on things that happened to her and how her mother did or did not prepare her for it. But the tone is not one of blame.

        That’s just how I see it, anyway.

    • Sharon

      Beautiful

    • Pao

      There are a lot of things you have to learn on your own. 

    • ...

      This is the whiniest, most ungrateful thing I’ve read in a while.  Especially with the drastic shifts in views on gender roles and relationships since the last generation, it doesn’t seem fair to blame your mother.  Actually, that argument doesn’t even need to be made; you’re a fucking brat.  Change your relationships instead of blaming your mother.  Also maybe spend some time helping people with real problems. 

      • kids.

        She’s not blaming her mother. Did you even read this?

      • Nikki

        That isn’t what she’s saying at all. Change the mindset you use when you read articles and stop being so fucking judgemental.

      • Renee Campbell

        there were 15 other jokes who liked this comment besides the original poster. this post is about showing how grateful she is to her mother and how she takes the lessons her mother taught her to heart, like they are the Bible, and even then, there are some things that her mother, in her omniscient ways, couldn’t save her from

    • Me

      I think ppl are missing the point here’s…she’s obviously very greatful for the things her mom taught her, and completely aware that a parent can’t teach you everything. Did all the haters miss the line where she admits there are things she had to learn on here own? Or the last post from “…” Did you miss where she admitted she learned the lesson to try and change her relationships? Before you judge and jump to conclusions that someone we don’t know who bravely posted a personal piece of their life for stranges online to read, think about all the lessons you learned yourself…and how painful some of them were. Stop calling those you don’t know “fucking brats” based on nothing…just makes you seem like a “fucking judgmental prick”. Always amazes me what unthoughtful things ppl will say from the hidden comfort of their computers…

      • Growl

        “Always amazes me what unthoughtful things ppl will say from the hidden comfort of their computers”  lolz irony

    • Carli

      Beautiful. So beautiful. It seems some commenters are missing the point. Anyway, please write more. You are great at it.

    • ....

      I hope things get better for you and that you do learn to fight for what deserves it. 

      Meanwhile, minor but handy pointer – when you say “As an infant, she taught me X”, you imply she taught you X when *she* was an infant. That she taught you Y when she was a child and Z when she was an adult. Try “When I was an infant, she taught me to X” / “As an infant, I learnt X” instead.

    • Privileged Misogynist

      I wish more mothers would teach their daughters to always wear pantyhose with dresses and skirts.  The 90’s–a lost decade when nobody wore them–must never happen again.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=41508118 Caity Sherlock

      “she couldn’t teach me that sex happens without ulterior motives. She couldn’t teach me not to judge everyone who touched me with suspicion.”
      this. amazing. 
      i wish my mother taught me more. 

    • http://www.about.me/tanyasalyers Tanya Salyers

      Beautiful.

    • Anonymous

      I loved this. Love my mom, but there’s such a divide between mothers and daughters that you really captured here. Hit close to home.

    • Mouse in the house

      I think one of the most startling moments of my 20s was realizing there were some things my mother genuinely did not know, and therefore could not teach me. Every generation hopefully builds on the previous generation’s body of knowledge.

    • Vanessa

      Am I the only one that understands that the last part is not about her Mother at all…it’s about her leaving a relationship and how her Mother could never teach her how to do it or deal with it and the pain that it causes?!?!  Because I don’t know about all of you…but THAT is just one thing that no mother, no matter how much she loves you can teach you…it’s something that must be learned on your own. 

    • Em

      Beautifully written! Isn’t it interesting when you’ve reached the point where you realize your mother didn’t actually know everything? As a five-year-old, I’m pretty sure I sincerely believed my mom was infinitely wise. (A part of me still believes this, actually. Most moms will always be wise in their own skewed, biased, but loving way.)

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