Struggles You Understand If You Have A Perfectionist Mom

June 6, 2019  |  
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critical mother effect on daughter

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Most mothers give their daughters a healthy amount of criticism and feedback. It’s what mothers do. They see their daughters as extensions of themselves and want to be well-represented out in the world. They also, on a self-less level, just want their daughters to have the happiest life possible. Sometimes they just miss the mark on what their daughters need to be happy. This is a pretty common mother/daughter struggle. It’s at the core of most mother/daughter arguments. But then there is this other type of mother who takes things to a whole other level. The perfectionist mother. The hyper-critical mom who just seems to wake up in the morning and think, “Time to look for problems!” Do you have a mom like that? I do. I’ve had to learn to manage it, and get over it a bit, but it still causes some funny behaviors. Here are things you’ll understand if you have a perfectionist mother.



Social media must be carefully curated

Every time you post, you have to ask yourself, “What if my mother sees this?” You have your mom on a restricted list, which means she only sees the posts you make public or in which you tag her. But you’re always aware that some neighbor or cousin may report something back to her, so you’ve added them to restricted lists, too.


You obsess over your outfit

You go back and forth between wanting to wear what you like because you’re an adult and really shouldn’t care what your mom says about your outfit, and wearing what she’ll like so you don’t waste the afternoon arguing with her about your outfit. You’d really like to avoid a fight. But seriously, there shouldn’t even be a fight about it. You’re a grownup!


You obsess over your weight

You’ve always either looked too slender or too heavy in your mom’s opinion. You stare at yourself in the mirror intensely, wondering which one it will be this time, and trying to do your hair, makeup, and outfit in a way that will make it hard for your mom to notice your weight. Still, it’ll be the first thing she comments on when she sees you.


You prepare for phone calls

You rehearse what you’ll say. You have your prepared topics. You have the emergency distraction comments you’ll make if she brings up something you don’t want to talk about. You know a safe bet is to ask her lots of questions about herself—or to bring up that other relative she loves to criticize.


You have a lot of secrets

You have a lot of secrets. So, so many you can’t count. Like the fact that you lent your partner a little money once or spent a week in Las Vegas at a hotel with a topless pool. There are just so many little details of your life that would send your mother into full-on panic mode, and probably have her at your door, insisting you move back home. It’s hard to keep track of all the secrets you keep from her.


And secret friends

You also have plenty of people in your life of whom you know your mother would not approve. She fixates on surface-level details and superficial elements, so you know she’d lose it if she knew you were friends with an ex-convict, who is actually a really good guy now. You know she simply wouldn’t like the look of your one friend with all the tattoos. You keep them from your mom, so as to not subject them to her judgment. They’re good people.


You pity your romantic partner

There is one person whom you can’t protect from your mother’s critical eye and that’s your romantic partner. He has to meet her at some point. And though she tries to edit herself and put her critical statements through a filter, they still come out pretty judgy. And your partner can feel it. The poor guy doesn’t understand it’s not personal—she does that to everyone.


Celebrations are never quite that

If you tell your mom you found a new apartment or got a new job, she immediately goes into critical mode. She picks up on all the things that could be wrong about the apartment—it’s too close to a loud metro station or it doesn’t get much light. She mentions all that could go wrong with the company—what if they go under in a year? That industry is very new.


You try to keep her away from your home

You do all you can to limit the number of times she visits your home. Your home is just a minefield for arguments. From the way you decorate to the food you keep in your fridge to your neighbors (you can’t even control that last part). You try to meet her away from your home whenever possible.


If she comes over, you clean for hours

If she absolutely must come over, you clean for hours—no, days—before she visits. You’re very on edge, getting upset with your partner or roommate for leaving one piece of paper on a table.


Then, she still notices a spot of dust

After all of that, your mom comes in looking for issues, finds the one spot of dust you missed, and says, “You should really try to keep your place clean.” And you silently develop a new ulcer.


She’s always looking for evidence

When she talks to you in person, you feel her searching your face for clues that you’re lying or holding something back. Every phone call feels like an interrogation. On the phone, she searches for signs in your voice that you’re withholding information.


There’s always that one comparison person

There’s always been that one person to whom she compares you. Maybe a cousin or someone you went to high school with. She sees that person’s social media posts and she seems so perfect with her architect husband and her country club membership. Your mom loves to go on and on about what a lovely life that woman has. And she emphasizes that woman to imply you are not that woman.


You stay in a hotel—not with her

When you go home to visit your mom, you’d rather stay in a cheap motel than at her place. You know you’ll get in trouble for not fluffing the pillows after making the bed or for leaving trash in the trashcan.


She doesn’t really know you

Unfortunately—and this is an important note for moms with strained relationships with your daughters—your mom doesn’t really know you. It’s not safe to let her into every aspect of your life because she’d tear it apart, so over the years, you’ve accumulated tons of stories and changes you just never told your mother about.

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