My Mom Drives Me Crazy.

My question revolves around my mother. We've always had a tense relationship. I am an only child and struggle with trying to go my own way and be sensitive to her but also not be bound to her ideals. For instance, she has never treated my boyfriend with much respect and it really bothers me. I wonder if you have any tips on how to deal with a difficult relationship with mom. 

Oh, Moms. What to do. The eternal question. It's so hard, isn't it? You love your mom, you hate your mom. You can't get enough of her and at the same time you want her to leave you alone forever. I get it. I worship my mom. She is a brilliant poetic ray of wild light, but that doesn’t mean she still doesn’t drive me bonkers. It’s a crazy complicated relationship and I could write ten books about the subject alone (hello, maybe one day I will), but in the interest of getting back to work I’ll keep it short. Basically, it comes down to making a choice: do you want a Mom in your life or not? It’s up to you. You can definitely be all: "Mom, it's too crazy and painful for me to be in touch with you now"  and take a big fat Time Out for a while, or you can come to terms with the very bizarre and finite truth of it all: which is that she is not going to be around forever, and why not make the most of the time with her while you can. In case you can’t tell, I’m totally biased and a big fan of the second option (maybe it has something to do with the fact that I now have two daughters). Anyway, below: five simple tips for dealing with a difficult mom.

1. Set boundaries. I know that’s such an annoying Dr. Phil of a word, but trust me — boundaries are the shit. (Take it from someone who struggles deeply with them). It’s key that you figure out a way to stay connected to your mom but not at the expense of your sanity. Why not try bonding over some “safe” topics that aren’t heated or contentious? For example, if you love the show “Modern Family”, then make a date to watch it together a few times a month. Bring the popcorn and a good attitude. If you’re both obsessed with chocolate cake, plan a time to meet her for a slice. If you have a shared passion (gardening, Bette Midler, leopard prints), bring the subjects up with her and don’t deviate. The goal is to find neutral territory where you both can participate in a conversation that won’t be triggering. And try to avoid bonding over gossip or saying negative things about a mutual friend— it’s a cheap bid for intimacy and ultimately a dead end.  
2.  Two positives for every negative. I had a whacky therapist who taught me this one. If you want to bring up something to your mom that is a potentially loaded issue, preface it with two nice things first. For example, the BF situation. Must feel like an insurmountable topic to approach, but trust me — it can be done. Here’s how. “Mom, you know I think you are one of the most generous people I know (Nice Thing Number One), and I was remembering that time you took me out for my birthday and how sweet and awesome you were (Nice Thing Number Two), HOWEVER, it really hurts my feelings and makes me sad that you haven’t made much of an effort to spend time with Mr. Boyfriend. He’s really important to me and so are you —it would mean so much to me if you would spend some meaningful time with him.”   3.  Focus on making your own life full.  When I find myself going down the psychological rabbit hole of Mom-hatred, it’s usually because I’m mad at myself for some reason —   or feeling kind of bored and empty and looking for a distraction. Make sure you are doing things in your free time that feel meaningful and fulfilling. Check out a cool new art exhibits, go to the movies, treat yourself to a solo coffee date with an old book, listen to music, cook a delicious meal, take a dance class, you get the gist. Fill up your life with goodness. It’ll add a rosy filter to all your relationships, especially the primary one with Mom.
4.  Accept her.  Newsflash: She’s not going to change. Repeat after me: she’s. not. going. to. change. Say it again and once more for good measure. Mom is Mom! She is who she is and no amount of yelling or screaming or wishing or praying will change that. I know that it feels like if only she just behave this way and say this thing and be nicer about that thing than your life would he happy and perfect but that is just a bunch of bogus, magical thinking. Focus on changing yourself. By practicing meditation, going to therapy and getting rigorously honest about what your part you play in all the drama, you will develop the self-awareness and tools you need to not fly off the handle when she does something that irritates you beyond belief. Instead, you can channel your inner gentle Zen elf who will help you to deep breathe and shake it off.
5. Be grateful. So, you have a Mom. And she’s not going to be around forever. I have plenty of friends who have lost theirs and I thank God every day that mine is still alive and thriving. I always think of this time in 2009 when I had just paid off all my credit card debt and then I got a call from my Dad saying both my grandparents were in the hospital far away in Florida, I looked online for flights and the cheapest one was $759. I asked my husband "should I do this"? And he was like: "if I could go back in time and see my grandparents for a day...." and then he stopped and his eyes welled up.  Obviously I got on a plane the next day. They died six months later.... I only say that to put things in perspective. Somewhere under that cynical, jaded, addicted to internet shopping, red wine drinking, too-cool-for-school social-media saturated soul of yours, you’re just a little girl who loves your Mom. And who wants her to love you back hard. Remember that.