Why Write About My Badass Mom?

As you read these charming, alarming (chalarming: new word) stories about my Badass Mom there are a few things you might want to keep in mind. Or not. You could just start reading them and skip this important preamble but if you go this route please make sure you have your helmet on.

#1. I write about my badass mom in order to understand and forgive her and I write about her in order to understand and forgive myself.  Writing is the best way for me to just see her.  I’ve found that it is incredibly healing and enlightening to write about her as if she were a character I am observing so that is why you might sense a Columbo writing style when I’m documenting important facts about how she likes to hoard Red Velvet Cake Yoplait yogurt and ridicule helpless Alzheimer’s patients. These are pieces of evidence only my inner Peter Falk can share.

#2. I write about her because my long, twisted, harrowing journey with her has ended in a calm place.  I no longer wish for her to be anyone other than who she is and this has meant freedom for me so if I write about her then maybe I will get to hear about other people who have arrived at or are on their way toward or think they’ll never get to the freedom place as well.

#3. I write about her because I think shedding layers is a worthy endeavor. I thought I would forever be tangled up in, confused by and terrified of my painful relationship with her but the absolute opposite has happened and just the other day when she told me that she thought my eyebrows looked like they’d been plucked using a pair of gardening shears it didn’t bother me at all because I have arrived at a quiet nice place and no one’s opinion about my eyebrows is gonna ruin my day. It’s so odd.  And good.  And true.

5 Comments on "Why Write About My Badass Mom?"

  1. How did I miss all these posts about your mom?

  2. Jenboo says:

    I’ve been enjoying your blog in a lurky sort of way since last fall, when J. I. Kleinberg over at ChocolateIsaVerb pointed me in your direction. But your Badass Mom posts have lured me out of the shadows with their boldness, compassion, and zen-like clarity. I, too, have a parent who is “Badass” (in your wording that is uniquely odd, excellent, and true in describing someone with what’s probably a borderline personality disorder), and I’d be very grateful to know: HOW did you forgive her? Was it simply your writing about your mother, Columbo-like, that has brought you to this “calm place”? Can you describe, perhaps, the stages or mechanisms of whatever process led you to a more peaceful view of her?

    I ask, in part, because writing about my own “Badass” parent just serves to make me angrier. I’d love to read more from you about what intellectual perspectives or emotional moves have been useful to you as you’ve labored towards “the freedom place.”

    And thank you, Cupcake, for writing about her. It’s clearer than ever that you are FAR more “profound” than “shallow.” And I think your insights can do me, and many others, a lot of good.

    • Cupcake Murphy Cupcake Murphy says:

      Jenboo—Thank you so much for what you wrote here. I’ve always felt like having a Badass Mom is like being in a secret, hideous club that no one really wants to say they’re in and that is the main reason I write about my own hairspray addict mom. If ONE person can read one of my Badass Mom stories and think “wow and I thought MY mom was freak” and then feel less alone then that makes me feel like I am doing something good. I am SO corny in that way because of my lifelong experience of feeling alone around my mom issue. People are supposed to Love Thy Mother so if you have a Badass mom who doesn’t so much raise you as make life a scary obstacle course where does that leave you? For me, it left me feeling DIFFERENT and MAD and SCARED. Such a lovely combination. But it was my combination and I’ve spent my whole life trying to unravel the puzzle pieces that make up that combination in order to figure it all out. As I’ve made peace with who I am —- I’ve made peace with my mom. I don’t know that the part of me that endured her harsh reign over me will ever really forgive her but it’s more like I can see it and her now AS IS without any crazed longing for it to be different or better or nicer. I still struggle at times but the struggle is no longer my focus or way of being around her. And the struggle is no longer the source of such great shame.

      Your questions here are so thoughtful and have such depth that it feels hard to know if I am responding in the right way. In the way that will show you that I’m grateful that you asked me those questions and that I nodded my head in recognition when I read those questions. I only know that from an EARLY age I knew deep down that if I was going to survive I needed to try to NOT be a sleepwalker and so most of my life has been spent piecing myself together and literally being like a detective in how I look at things and, often, how I have reframed things. This has been done in STAGES and it has required more kindness than I had for myself or anyone else most of the time and it has required being brave even though I am such a coward about so many things. Stages, kindness, anger, writing, confusion, grief, longing, disillusionment, horror and therapy. Lots and lots of therapy and diving in to the deepest parts of where I didn’t want to go in order to wake up and eventually heal because I knew it would be worth it. And lord knows it has been worth it.

      I hope this is a start to answer your questions. Thank you again for chiming in. It is everything to me!

      • Jenboo says:

        Cupcake, I SO appreciate your detailed response here. What you say certainly does get to my questions. One key point for me is your saying, “As I’ve made peace with who I am —- I’ve made peace with my mom.” This rings true for me, in terms of placing my BP (Badass Parent) in the context of MY life, instead of viewing myself as an unsatisfactory appendage of my BP’s existence (as I was trained from early on to view myself). The more fully I identify & accept who I am–a process still ongoing at midlife!–the more consistently I can achieve this perspective.

        And expressing your confusion & sense of isolation over the imperative to “Love Thy Mother” resonates strongly. It IS a “hideous club” to belong to, not feeling that warm affection & trust taken for granted by children of functional parents. One thing I really admire about your Badass Mom posts is your sustained ability to honor her AND tell the truth about her. Maybe it’s THROUGH telling the truth with such detail that your writing conveys respect for her. Somehow, you fulfill both the ethical imperative & the social expectation of honoring her, and in a way that refuses to gloss over the damage that her behavior inflicts on those around her.

        And your point about not wanting to be a “sleepwalker” strikes me as especially helpful. What you say there helps reassure me that my perception of being weirdly outside of my own relationships and social roles does not mean that I’m doomed to unhappiness, as I sometimes fear; rather, it’s a method I use, much like your “detective” work, for figuring out, through careful observation, how healthy people go about their lives, and then choosing, deliberately, how to proceed with our own.

        Also apparent in what you say here is the great usefulness of WRITING in all these processes. That, too, I take to heart. And I certainly look forward to reading more from you, about your mom’s Badassery and everything else.