A Step-by-Step Guide on How To Break Up with Your Mom & Dad
(without really trying)!
(This is not recommended for all users.)
Determine if this is a good fit for you!
Let’s get started! Answer Yes ! or No ! to the following questions.
- …beg your mom & dad on numerous occasions to call you, only to have the most un-ringing-est phone in history?
YES ! NO !
- …find yourself saying “I wish I had a Mom and/or Dad” only to have your partner remind you that, in fact, you do?
YES ! NO !
- …never get asked to attend family gatherings, holidays, or activities?
YES ! NO !
- …have a sister who lives across the driveway from your parents who they love better in an unhealthy codependent sort of way and spend their time conspiring together to hold random strangers who are trying to turn around hostage in the driveway for “trespassing” under the threat of guns?
YES ! NO !
- …tell your parents you want to be included in the family and they respond that they “nearly choked on their laughter” at the request?
YES ! NO !
- …often hear yourself explaining your parents behavior by saying things like “Well, I’ve always been the dispensable one” or “I get why they don’t like me, but I don’t really understand why they don’t love me, either.”
YES ! NO !
If you’ve answered “YES!” to any of these questions, breaking up with your Mom & Dad may be a great fit!
Sooooooo, let’s get to it! (after a brief intermission).
S T A N D B Y
Until three weeks ago, I did not love my newest dog. I calculated the extra cost of dog food, monitored her behavior with only one peg on the scale to measure for goodness, and spent an inordinate amount of time ensuring that my other little dog never felt left out. I raged at her slightest indiscretion and rolled my eyes at her oddities. I introduced her as an apology.
It’s embarrassing to think about, now that I love her. And the love came as an old one– no butterflies or sparkling eyes. Just the ancient kind that’s been there all along, underneath the surface of the Earth, waiting to have me sink in deep enough to be tapped.
It’s the kind of love I am supposed to have for myself.
How to Break Up With Your Mom & Dad (Without Really Trying)
- You Say / They Say!
“I don’t think I can come home, anymore.” / “Okay! Fine by us!”
“I want to have a better relationship.” / “I’m not talking about this with you.”
“I just want you to call me sometimes, maybe once a month? Twice a year?” / “I’m not dealing with you or that Voicemail bullshit.”
“I know you wanted a family photo, and I do, too, but only when the insides match the outsides.” / “Don’t worry, I won’t be asking for a photo with you ever again.”
See? Easy. They really do the work for you!
So now it’s just a matter of a little cleanup.
The first part of the revelation came on a walk in Arkansas. We came across the Mammoth Springs by accident, and circled the park and bright blue green water once when a stray dog began walking alongside. I loved him immediately, without reservation. I loved him like I wouldn’t love my own dog.
I wished for a trade with the Universe, a happy accident where the owner finds his dog and asks to have ours instead.
“Why can’t I love her?” I half yelled. And as we kept walking, our tagalong– a hunting dog– reminded me something of the dogs I grew up with. I looked at Magpie Mae.
“Oh shit,” I said, “she’s me.”
Magpie Mae came at the beginning of the end with my parents, after an incident wherein I confronted them for holding people hostage in their driveway last November. The “intruders,” or rather, wayward strangers, were “being taught a lesson” on my family’s compound. It was a long, uncomfortable discussion that included a guard dog sister, the police, and two hapless, wide eyed middle aged people in a camper whose GPS took them down the wrong road.
I’d spent the last four years showing up uninvited, checking in, calling, telling my parents I loved them. I’d been trying to be intentional. I’d been trying to be included. I’d been failing. And after November, it seemed I couldn’t make anything right.
That’s when we got Magpie Mae.
By July, it had broken completely.
In the last year, every ounce of otherness Magpie Mae exuded threw me into a fit. She eats too fast. She is too eager for love. She needs too much. She’s too big. She moves too much. She barks too much. She’s too eager for love. She’s too eager to love.
And, just like me, the only bit of otherness she was allotted was her ability to sing. I let her howl along to every sad country song and Happy Birthday voicemail we left. It’s when her weirdness paid off. People liked it.
Just like me.
And if Magpie was me, then I was my parents. And I made the same mistakes.
“Oh, Magpie,” I said. She glanced up at me, ducking her head as if waiting for me to scold her. I pulled her head to my leg. “Oh, Magpie, forgive me.”
You now have time to–
2. Tie Up Loose Ends!
Since your parents have already slammed the door on you mid sentence begging them to love you, so that they could run to church where they can be a good example of Love and Light, you have a little time. Maybe start with these!
~ Block Your Mom on Facebook!
This encourages her to make good on all those empty promises to call you.
–SIDES EFFECTS INCLUDE the removal of hope that in some way, your mother does care & is secretly watching you via social media in some sort of Benevolent God complex. Now, you must go forward with your unringing phone knowing with certainty that if she does care, she will not show it (AKA gives no shits).
~ Walk Around Family Compound Looking for Something to Indicate That You Ever Really Belonged Here, and For Something You’ll Really Miss, and Come Up Short!
Except maybe that maple tree. It’s worked so hard to rise above despite its roots being stuck in the backyard in the ominous shade of the family house.
—SIDE EFFECTS INCLUDE self pity and a sense of free falling.
We landed in Nashville two days after my love of Magpie began, and I was eager to tell my friend Bryan my revelation. How I was my parents, how Magpie was me, how ashamed I felt to have taken so long to figure it out.
“So, now, I need to start over with her,” I said triumphantly, “I need to stop raging at her for the things that make her like me.”
“Oh,” said Bryan, “I didn’t think that’s how that was going to go.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, Magpie is you. I don’t think you need to start over with Magpie, I think it means you need to stop raging at yourself.”
3. Drive Away!
It’s important to drive and not be driven to give you a sense of ownership over your decision and reality, and to help combat your feelings of powerlessness in the scope of being unloved by your parents.
SIDE EFFECTS INCLUDE–
– being envious of real orphans.
– guilt about relief.
– incessant fear of your phone ringing.
– incessant fear that your phone will never ring.
And that’s it, folks! Easy as 1, 2, 3, (4).
It’s been five months, and my parents haven’t called. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still hoping for it. I think that’s probably natural for a kid. Last night, at my sister’s house– the good one– my mother Skyped with her grandkids. Unwittingly, my niece turned the phone around–
“Look, Grandma! Mallory and Scott are here!” she said.
My mother said she had to go, then. My mother can’t even look at me.
In the meantime, I cry a lot. I also love a lot, especially by big little dog, Magpie Mae. She does these weird cute things all the time like lay upside down on her back and stretch back and forth like she’s trying to swim in the air. She also has an adorable way of being at utmost attention where treats are involved. She’s a great listener, and even when she’s not, she’s well intentioned. She still sings, of course, but she also has a great way of sensing when I am so blue, blue, blue and places her big fat head on my lap while I am trying to type out a blog to sort out my feelings about my parents and myself. Maybe it’s how eager and vulnerable she is for love that makes her so lovable. I find that sort of eagerness irresistible now.