My Mom Screwed Me Up, and That’s Okay by Amanda Pistor

Without getting into the probably-boring-to-a-stranger details of my upbringing, I will just say that my mom and I have not always had an easy relationship. I have always disdained those women and girls who say, “My mom is my best friend in the world.” They’re lying, for one thing, and they are delusional or perhaps just plain stupid. My teen years were filled with angst and chaos, mostly caused by the clashes of strong personalities in a blended family. (Those who were there will snort at that last statement’s diplomacy; shit was fucked up for us.)

As an adult, I have come to realize that all parents screw their kids up. I am not special in that regard. Some have it way worse than I did. I believe that most parents do their best to get their children from infancy to adulthood with all their limbs and faculties intact, and there are going to be some missteps and bad decisions along the way.

A lot of people who have difficult childhoods end up having strained relationships with their parents as adults, it seems. The best part about being a grownup, however, is being able to choose how you spend your time, and with whom. I decided I wanted a relationship with my mom because I started to get to know her as a person after I got out of college. I have noticed a lot about her that is pretty awesome. I made a list of a few of those things.

She loves fiercely. Being around my mom is good for anyone’s ego, and not just because she has that charming Southern habit of calling everyone “Baby” and “Angel.” She pays attention to people and makes them feel special. This is one reason she’s a great teacher, and her students love her. She can be dramatic, but I think it’s mostly because she loves so deeply. She is still kind of heartbroken over the fact that I moved to Australia. I hate making her sad.

She is so there. She takes care of everyone, sometimes to her own detriment. Her children are her proudest accomplishment, and she has gone to great lengths to make our lives easier on countless occasions. But she does that for everyone – her family, friends, even people she shouldn’t really like very much because they’re kind of assholes. I have vowed to never ask her to help me move again, though. She’s too old for that.

She gave me my sister. I should mention that I have a brother and stepbrother who I love dearly, but my sister is my best friend. I wouldn’t have her if it weren’t for my mom, obviously, and my sister and I probably wouldn’t have the relationship we have if we hadn’t shared a messy childhood. My sister has a bunch of amazing qualities, too. She is incredibly strong. She is bright and hilarious. She is inappropriate and loud. She is an awesome mom to her three kids. She is proud of me. She defends me, even when I’m wrong (but she will call me on my bullshit). Sounds like someone else I know.

She is real. Since I was about 13, I have noticed that a lot of people put on a different personality in front of their parents. I don’t remember ever having to do that, because my mom doesn’t request or require it. It’s such a tremendous relief that I can be myself around her, and it’s one reason my husband and friends also enjoy hanging out with my mom. There’s no pressure to behave a certain way. She has impeccable manners and a sense of decorum, but when she’s with her family and friends, well, she doesn’t give a shit.

She doesn’t give a shit. She will say the most profane and inappropriate things to make us laugh. One time we stumbled into an outdoor street fair where teenage girls were dressed as Disney princesses to entertain the hordes of little kids there. As we walked by, she said, “Ariel looks like a whore,” and then she proceeded to make a whole bunch of jokes centered on things smelling like fish. At my thirtieth birthday celebration, my sister improvised a dirty variation of the happy birthday song (having to do with my conception, mostly), and my mom corrected the technical inaccuracies in her description. For those who may be offended or put off, she simply says, “Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.”

I celebrate my mom on Mother’s Day and every day. I wouldn’t have wanted anybody else to be the one to screw me up.



  1. I love the honesty found in your writing and really enjoyed your entire post. I think I also had the same “awakening” during college that you described in your third paragraph. It is really sad that we don’t realize there are women behind those label of “mom” and I think a lot of it has to do with our culture. I also loved reading about your love of your sister. Being the only child, I remember begging my mom various times for a sibling so I could have someone to play with. One of my closest friends has two other sisters (from the 3 girls in that family), and I’ve always watching her interact with her sisters with such curiosity. I’d love to have known that bond and very happy you have such a strong bond with your sister. And being an expat as well, I know how hard it can be being away form your mom and family back home while trying to make your new home, home. Great post all around! Excited to read more of writings here. Cheers!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love your concept, love your originality and honesty, A sweet homage to your mother. But all the profanity makes me wonder why someone as educated and intelligent as you are, would stoop to the sh___t and F___k words. Surely there are more descriptive words that you could use. I used to talk like this, too, and one day realized that I was trying to be “shocking” without really knowing “why”. When you lift your words out of the gutter, you will soar. You have wonderful literary potential. What is your voice? Who are you speaking to? Do you wish to be only amusing, or truly amazing? Look inward and then you will have something to write about. Best wishes from an admirer.

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