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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Negative mom shoots down good news

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: I’m in a bit of a pickle.

I recently signed a deal with a large publishing house to write a technical book for them. I’m super-jazzed, and I’ve told pretty much everyone about it … but I’ve left out my mother.

Why? Well, she has a downer way of looking at anything I get interested in. She told a young me, at 7, that even though I was good at art, I better do something else with my life, or I’d starve. (Who says that to a second-grader!?) Anyway, her negative attitude often sucks the enjoyment out of what I was doing, and it takes forever to get that momentum back. I can’t afford to be down for a week or two when I have a deadline.

But … what do I do when/if the book is published? “Yeah, I was writing this book for the past eight months, but decided only to tell you now. Coming to the book party?”

She’ll be hurt and I am beginning to see the fallout could be nasty.

Any thoughts on waiting? Fessing up? Soothing words? – D.C. Writer

When do you want your pain – now or later?

You already know that your mom will be negative, and that expecting, hoping, asking, whatevering her to be different won’t work. And yet you’re ready to write as-is, no?

In other words, you’re apparently in fine writing form now, fully aware that your mom will shoot holes in your accomplishment – so why would actually hearing her negativity change anything?

Rhetorical question, but with a pragmatic heart. Instead of continually granting Mother this power, of hiding in perpetuity, perhaps it’s time to adapt: to see her Eeyoreisms as just funny – funny odd or funny ha-ha, your call – or sad for her, or an obstacle to account for like traffic or bad weather, or something other than a reflection on you. Parents are powerful, yes. But they’re people, too. Schlemiels.