Last updated on March 13th, 2019 at 03:48 pm
In committing to my big dream to write my memoir, “Toxic Mom Toolkit, I needed to be sure I was right about my mother being a toxic mom. I’d given a lot of thought to her life experiences and challenges, her choices and deeds.
I’ve been as objective as I can about my mother in her twenties, thirties, and beyond, comparing her life to mine at similar ages. I’ve concluded that in the pantheon of toxic moms, my mother is ranked somewhere between actress Joan Crawford’s character in the story, “Mommy Dearest“ and the deceased mom character, Norma Bates, in the movie, “Psycho.”
You remember the Norma Bates character in that scary movie–she was the lady who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
If you have found your way to this article by searching to answer the burning question “Is my mom toxic?” then I have some advice for you.
Your mother may have dressed you weird or refused to let you attend sleep-away camp, but was she that bad? To be fair to your judgment of her, you could factor in times when money was tight, or her cat died and grant her some latitude for her past behaviors.
Or you could take a deep breath and look at my unscientific toxic mom test below to help you decide if your mother is indeed a toxic mom.
Give yourself one point for every time you say to yourself, “Oh yeah, that’s my life …”
Your Mother Might be Toxic If
1. You freeze the moment you see your toxic mom’s phone number appear on your phone caller I.D.
2. It takes more than 15 minutes to warn new friends about how to act around your toxic mom and ensure they know what your silent signal is for ‘we’re leaving right now!’
3. You are certain your toxic mom views you as someone who is her social or sexual competition.
4. You don’t know very much about your toxic mom’s life-story or your extended family.
5. You hear your toxic mom lie about your age.
6. You have lost track of more than five “uncles.”
7. Gifts from your toxic mom regularly include subtle messages about your need for improvement.
8. Your toxic mother is quick to cut off family members who dare oppose or stand up to her.
9. Your toxic mother has no photos from a significant portion of her life, or she always has a faraway look or smirk on her face in what few family photos she does keep.
10. Your toxic mother compulsively measures and monitors household supplies.
11. Stories with a robust mother-daughter theme make you weepy.
12. You feel your toxic mom loves you only when you are successful.
13. You feel anxious in the days leading up to family gatherings that involve you being forced to be around your toxic mom.
14. Your toxic mother was or is addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, or other destructive activities.
15. Your toxic mother enjoys setting one family member up against another.
16. Your toxic mom left you in the care of an irresponsible adult or an immature sibling, or your toxic mom left you home alone for extended periods.
17. Your toxic mom gave you luggage for your high school graduation.
Usually, these types of lists or tests have a number ranking at the end, but I’m going to leave ranking where your mother is as far as toxicity up to you. Is 16 out of 17 okay? Is 3 too much? Maybe it depends on which ones most apply to your mom. I left out several that apply only to me, like:
If you were kidnapped and your toxic mom didn’t notice.
Yeah, that one.
I’d like to advise that when you look to resolve the pain of a toxic parent by reading pieces like this test by me, that you need to be kind to yourself. Be gentle to yourself today. Allow yourself to feel the pain without numbing it away with alcohol, drugs, smoking, distractions, etc. Your feelings will quickly pass if you allow yourself to feel the hurt/anger/pain and you’ll be one step closer to healing your wounded heart.
It’s not you; it’s her.
Rayne Wolfe is a freelance writer, and a former New York Times, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Sonoma Media, journalist. Her first book, Toxic Mom Toolkit: Discovering a Happy Life Despite Toxic Parenting (CreateSpace) was released in December 2013 and is available on Amazon. Rayne’s non-fiction work is published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and Glamour Magazine.
Note: Articles by Rayne may contain affiliate links and may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link.