A Message From The Mother You Wish You Had

From the Sources: Preface to The Gulag Archipelago

I have two daughters.

The younger one is affectionate, cuddly, emotional, attentive, and motherly. She loves tending to children younger than herself. She showers people with affection and cuddles whether they want it or not.

My older daughter is independent and reserved by comparison. She doesn’t want affection unless she initiates it. She can’t stand getting interrupted when she’s in the middle of something. Needless to say, this leads to problems when my younger daughter tries to love-bomb her sister, cuddle her when her sister doesn’t want it, and snuggle up when my older daughter is doing something else. 

Since they’re children, they don’t understand boundaries, which means boundaries often get crossed in the worst possible way and can even lead to violence.

I want to share with you something that happened just two hours ago as these two were getting ready for school. The younger girl tried to sit on the couch next to her sister—translation: sit on top of her/cuddle too close. This ended in a massive blow-up. 

After I had cooled down sufficiently to think straight, I took my younger daughter into my bedroom, got her all cuddled up on my lap, and I told her something and now I’m going to tell you the same thing. 

This is super important. This is basic life advice. It is so important that every mother should be teaching their children this. If your mother didn’t teach you, consider this a message from the mother you wished you had.

Here is what I told her. 

If someone doesn’t want us around, then that is a person we should get as far away from as possible. If someone doesn’t want to talk to us, or pushes us away, or doesn’t want to spend their time with us, then that person is not worth our time, our heart, our effort, our affection, or our love. That is a person who belongs out of our life.

If someone acts like that, walk away. Get away from the person. Don’t throw your heart in front of that person. They aren’t worth it. You will be the one who gets hurt and they won’t care. They probably won’t even notice that you got hurt.

There are going to be a lot of people—millions of people, even—who are going to want to spend time with us. There are going to be a lot of people who just cannot wait to hear what we have to say. There are going to be countless people who need and crave our affection. They are going to love us for it. They are going to be so grateful for our attention and care.

If someone doesn’t value those gifts, they aren’t worth our time or care or our emotions. Our hearts are too valuable to put up with treatment like that. Save it for the people who appreciate it.

Each of us is precious beyond all price. We are far too precious to be mistreated or devalued by anyone. 

The very instant someone acts like they don’t want you around, or acts like they don’t appreciate you, or even acts like they aren’t sure if they do or don’t, walk away. Get as far away from them as possible and go looking for the people who want that. Don’t cuddle them. Don’t love them. Don’t talk to them. Don’t do things for them. Don’t spend time with them. Don’t bother with them at all.

All of us should be following this policy in all our relationships and interactions with EVERYONE—no exceptions. Someone like that being our sister or our mother or our husband or our friend doesn’t make them worth that. If they act like that, it means they don’t want to be and we shouldn’t want that, either.

There is nothing to work out here. There is nothing we need to understand or consider about their motivations or their needs. There is nothing to compromise or negotiate or concede to someone like that.

Only the people who value us are worth our time, our effort, our love, and our affection. They are the only people who should be getting it.

I can just hear the chorus of mothers squawking in the background. “Oh, but Leah,” they cry, “don’t you think it would be better to teach your older daughter to have a little more consideration for her sister’s feelings? Isn’t that what learning to be part of a family is all about?”

This approach manipulates the situation. It arm-wrestles the older sister into an intimate interaction she doesn’t want (how many of us have been there before?) and dupes the younger sister into mistaking this for an intimate interaction when it couldn’t be farther from one.

This kind of mothering does absolutely nothing to prepare children (or us) for real, adult relationships in the real, adult world. It lays the groundwork for us to pour endless amounts of our energy, affection, and care into the bottomless black hole of a person who doesn’t reciprocate it. If anything, they will resent us for our attention. They will never return it.

The people who truly care about you and truly value you and your contribution will never, ever leave you in any doubt of that fact. If, for some reason, they can’t be with you or talk to you right now, they’ll explain the reasons why so you don’t get the wrong idea. They’ll do anything to make sure you never question whether they want you around or not.

That is the kind of person we should be spending our time with. That is the kind of person we should be dedicating our lives to, not the other kind.

Thank you for reading today. I hope this helps someone out there. If you need help right now, click the chatbot button at the bottom of this screen to talk to me immediately. We’ll get started solving your most troublesome issues so you can start enjoying a higher quality of life. You don’t have to do this alone anymore.