"Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
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08-02-2012, 07:27 AM
Heart "Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
So my mom and I are close, and pretty codependent on one another at times. We live a thousand miles apart, talk a few times a week, and are 'friends' on FaceBook. We seem to be afraid of conflict, especially with each other. We might be talking and come to a subject we disagree on, talk a couple points, and then it gets uncomfortable and we'll either get quiet or someone changes the subject. Awkward. Undecided

Last night I had told her I was going to dinner with some people and we talked afterwards and she had asked earlier and so I told her it was in celebration of Darwin's birthday. Awkwardness. So I said (trying to assuage that feeling), "Yesterday was Charles Dickens' birthday." Mom says, "I'd rather celebrate him." I said casually, "How come?" and Mom's like, "I don't know; I just would."
My guess is that Mom knows less about Darwin than I do. It's possible that her only knowledge of Darwin is what mine was years ago: the little Darwin fish on the back of people's cars which we saw as an intentional affront to Christianity by pissy nonbelievers. I could have asked her what she knows about Darwin, but for some reason I didn't think it was the time.

Continuing our conversation, I asked Mom if she knows any of Dickens' work. She said she doesn't, but when she thinks of him, it reminds her of an earlier era, an older time. I told her I've never actually read his work and that all I know about Dickens is from Mickey's Christmas Carol (still love it, LOL) and the musical, Oliver. I asked Mom if she'd be open to reading any of his books, and she said yeah. So I suggested she pick out a book and then I'll borrow the same one and we can read it together. She (who hates reading fiction) actually liked the idea.

It made me think more about choosing one's battles...how important is it to educate someone about your view, and how strongly does one want to approach that, and what's the right time and circumstance? Atheists understand more than anyone else that this life is all we have--do we want more to be heard by our loved ones, or to deepen our connection with them?

I'm the first to admit that being heard, understood, and known for all of who I am is important to me where my mom is concerned (not completely sure *why* this is). But I also recognize that many of my views feel threatening to her. Her way of 'dealing with' my lack of belief in God is to 'not think about it.' I know that she's not always comfortable voicing her opinion. In the past I've actually encouraged her to speak her opinion at her church's bible study even when I disagreed with her stance on the topic, because I want her to find her voice. I know that she probably knows very few atheists, if any. And I know that I love her and that she's precious to me.

I want to navigate my relationships in such a way that I'm valuing the personhood of others yet still able to be known and heard. It's going to be a work in progress, but I think last night helped.

Just a thought, thanks for reading.

~Valerie

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08-02-2012, 08:44 AM
RE: "Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
(08-02-2012 07:27 AM)ValerieAnn1975 Wrote:  So my mom and I are close, and pretty codependent on one another at times. We live a thousand miles apart, talk a few times a week, and are 'friends' on FaceBook. We seem to be afraid of conflict, especially with each other. We might be talking and come to a subject we disagree on, talk a couple points, and then it gets uncomfortable and we'll either get quiet or someone changes the subject. Awkward. Undecided

Last night I had told her I was going to dinner with some people and we talked afterwards and she had asked earlier and so I told her it was in celebration of Darwin's birthday. Awkwardness. So I said (trying to assuage that feeling), "Yesterday was Charles Dickens' birthday." Mom says, "I'd rather celebrate him." I said casually, "How come?" and Mom's like, "I don't know; I just would."
My guess is that Mom knows less about Darwin than I do. It's possible that her only knowledge of Darwin is what mine was years ago: the little Darwin fish on the back of people's cars which we saw as an intentional affront to Christianity by pissy nonbelievers. I could have asked her what she knows about Darwin, but for some reason I didn't think it was the time.

Continuing our conversation, I asked Mom if she knows any of Dickens' work. She said she doesn't, but when she thinks of him, it reminds her of an earlier era, an older time. I told her I've never actually read his work and that all I know about Dickens is from Mickey's Christmas Carol (still love it, LOL) and the musical, Oliver. I asked Mom if she'd be open to reading any of his books, and she said yeah. So I suggested she pick out a book and then I'll borrow the same one and we can read it together. She (who hates reading fiction) actually liked the idea.

It made me think more about choosing one's battles...how important is it to educate someone about your view, and how strongly does one want to approach that, and what's the right time and circumstance? Atheists understand more than anyone else that this life is all we have--do we want more to be heard by our loved ones, or to deepen our connection with them?

I'm the first to admit that being heard, understood, and known for all of who I am is important to me where my mom is concerned (not completely sure *why* this is). But I also recognize that many of my views feel threatening to her. Her way of 'dealing with' my lack of belief in God is to 'not think about it.' I know that she's not always comfortable voicing her opinion. In the past I've actually encouraged her to speak her opinion at her church's bible study even when I disagreed with her stance on the topic, because I want her to find her voice. I know that she probably knows very few atheists, if any. And I know that I love her and that she's precious to me.

I want to navigate my relationships in such a way that I'm valuing the personhood of others yet still able to be known and heard. It's going to be a work in progress, but I think last night helped.

Just a thought, thanks for reading.

~Valerie

Hey Valerie,
I don't know if your story causes you frustration, but I found it a very beautiful description. It makes me think so much of my own mom. But I'm a bigger chicken than you. I've only had conversations with her about not going to church, but have never made the big reveal that her son the ex-pastor is going to hell for eating babies. I don't want to pwn my mom either and your compassion with your mom is actually quite inspiring (although I think my mom has read Dickens more recently than I have: she does love her Kindle!).

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
~Izel
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08-02-2012, 09:17 AM
RE: "Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
(08-02-2012 07:27 AM)ValerieAnn1975 Wrote:  I'm the first to admit that being heard, understood, and known for all of who I am is important to me where my mom is concerned (not completely sure *why* this is).

I recommend that you figure out why you want your mom to understand this part of your life. Is it really important that she know you are an atheist and why? What will you give up if she does not know?

(08-02-2012 07:27 AM)ValerieAnn1975 Wrote:  It made me think more about choosing one's battles...how important is it to educate someone about your view, and how strongly does one want to approach that, and what's the right time and circumstance? Atheists understand more than anyone else that this life is all we have--do we want more to be heard by our loved ones, or to deepen our connection with them?

Is it going to be a battle with your mom? If so, what's the upside of fighting the battle? What does winning look like, and how likely is it? Is there really a possibility of this deepening your connection with your mom?

If you decide there are good reasons to put it on the table, you might try just airing some open questions related to god so your mom can understand that you have doubts. You can send the message without ever voicing it, if you think that being direct will damage your relationship.

Of course you can always try the shock and recall method:

You: Hi mom, I need to confess something
Mom: Oh, ok dear, what is it?
You: Well, I'm a serial killer, a lesbian and an atheist!
Mom: Oh my goodness!
You: Hey, just kidding about those first two.
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08-02-2012, 06:35 PM
RE: "Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
Here's a conversation I had with my mom some 35 years ago at the ripe old age of 15 after an expensive parochial school education.

Me: "Mom, I'm pretty sure the promise of a postmortem preservation of identity is complete and utter bullshit."
Mom: "I'll pray for you, son."

And here's a conversation from last week.

Me: "Mom, I'm pretty sure the promise of a postmortem preservation of identity is complete and utter bullshit."
Mom: "I'll pray for you, son."

No biggie. She's my mom and I'm her son, that transcends metaphysics ... wait, is that even possible?

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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08-02-2012, 06:51 PM
RE: "Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
(08-02-2012 08:44 AM)Erxomai Wrote:  Hey Valerie,
I don't know if your story causes you frustration, but I found it a very beautiful description. It makes me think so much of my own mom. But I'm a bigger chicken than you. I've only had conversations with her about not going to church, but have never made the big reveal that her son the ex-pastor is going to hell for eating babies. I don't want to pwn my mom either and your compassion with your mom is actually quite inspiring (although I think my mom has read Dickens more recently than I have: she does love her Kindle!).

Hiya', and thank you. Not really frustrating....maybe a little angsty at times, but not on a daily basis. We never actually had *foreboding music* The Conversation. She caught me on the TTA FB page, and I turned about 18 shades of pale when I saw her comment on my post....I thought I was in the doghouse. But she said she'd figured it from something I'd said months and months ago....I sometimes make jokes that I'm a 'heathen'...by 'heathen' I only mean 'anyone who's not Christian'...kind of making fun of myself in a friendly way. She thought that meant 'atheist' but really at the time I said it, I believed in God.

You know, if you haven't come out to your mom, that doesn't necessarily mean you never will. It's all about timing...so, you haven't come out *yet*....and that's OK. Maybe one day before you do you might help her see that most atheists don't eat babies......without A-1 sauce, of course. Wink

(08-02-2012 09:17 AM)Jeff Wrote:  I recommend that you figure out why you want your mom to understand this part of your life. Is it really important that she know you are an atheist and why? What will you give up if she does not know?

Jeff you pose good questions, thanks. It's not that I want only for her to understand *this* part of my life....it's me, in general, and this is just part of it. I think a good portion of it is that I feel it detracts from a relationship if you have to hide or skirt around things, and I think it enhances relationships if you can know all about a person and like, love, accept them anyway. I think sharing even the things we disagree over deepens connection. It's almost as if there's a little kid inside saying, "well yeah, I know you love me, but will you still love me if you knew *this*?...OK and what about *that*?" And then part of it is because we *are* close, I think I have more of an impulse to share new ideas and shed light on them, see if maybe she might not think they're *all* terrible....and part of it still, well, I just don't know....yet. I've never been 'normal'...from a parent's point of view, just one bombshell after another. I guess I still crave acceptance, and I have doubts that I can truly be accepted for *all* of who I am, if she doesn't know all of who I am. Maybe there's a part of me that feels rejected simply because she doesn't *want* to know. I dunno'.....


(08-02-2012 09:17 AM)Jeff Wrote:  Is it going to be a battle with your mom? If so, what's the upside of fighting the battle? What does winning look like, and how likely is it? Is there really a possibility of this deepening your connection with your mom?
Naw, no battle, per se; metaphorically, maybe...just using the expression to illustrate my thoughts. The "upside" would be just being heard, possibly understood a little bit, being more "known" by Mom. When I mentioned a deeper connection, I was actually referring to us finding common ground in Dickens--something we can learn and enjoy together that's non-threatening to us both.

Thanks to you both, you've been kind and helpful. ~Valerie

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09-02-2012, 06:41 AM
RE: "Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
Oh this sounds fun. I have an answer for you.

Okay. So I'm fairly sure that my mother is religious but we've never really talked about anything god related up until 2 years ago. When the subject was brought up she always took the "on the fence" standpoint and never really answered my questions properly. Recently, I've become quite hostile to religious ideas which doesn't sit well with my mother. In the end however. She doesn't really care if I believe or not as long as I have good reasons for my thoughts.

It's called family. Family will accept you regardless of what you are. Well that's not entirely true. I'm sure the line is cut off somewhere around serial killer but I don''t think that will come into play with you. Point being. Tell your mother about your skepticism. If she rejects you then she wasn't you family to begin with.

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09-02-2012, 09:35 AM
RE: "Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
Yeah, I pretty much don't discuss politics and my liberal take on scripture with my ultra-conservative mother. There isn't a point. Nothing good can come from it.

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09-02-2012, 11:13 AM
RE: "Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
(09-02-2012 06:41 AM)Hamata k Wrote:  Oh this sounds fun. I have an answer for you.

Okay. So I'm fairly sure that my mother is religious but we've never really talked about anything god related up until 2 years ago. When the subject was brought up she always took the "on the fence" standpoint and never really answered my questions properly. Recently, I've become quite hostile to religious ideas which doesn't sit well with my mother. In the end however. She doesn't really care if I believe or not as long as I have good reasons for my thoughts.

It's called family. Family will accept you regardless of what you are. Well that's not entirely true. I'm sure the line is cut off somewhere around serial killer but I don''t think that will come into play with you. Point being. Tell your mother about your skepticism. If she rejects you then she wasn't you family to begin with.

I'm a little disappointed to learn you have a mother. Huh

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
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09-02-2012, 01:00 PM
RE: "Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
(09-02-2012 11:13 AM)Erxomai Wrote:  
(09-02-2012 06:41 AM)Hamata k Wrote:  Oh this sounds fun. I have an answer for you.

Okay. So I'm fairly sure that my mother is religious but we've never really talked about anything god related up until 2 years ago. When the subject was brought up she always took the "on the fence" standpoint and never really answered my questions properly. Recently, I've become quite hostile to religious ideas which doesn't sit well with my mother. In the end however. She doesn't really care if I believe or not as long as I have good reasons for my thoughts.

It's called family. Family will accept you regardless of what you are. Well that's not entirely true. I'm sure the line is cut off somewhere around serial killer but I don''t think that will come into play with you. Point being. Tell your mother about your skepticism. If she rejects you then she wasn't you family to begin with.

I'm a little disappointed to learn you have a mother. Huh

I find that it's easier to relate to you mortals if I say I have things in common with them. Having a mother and a father seems to be something shared by everyone so I made myself some to improve my "public image".

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18-02-2012, 04:13 PM
Lightbulb RE: "Common Ground" or, "I Don't Want to Pwn My Mother"
Well, I think the meaning of my original post got lost somewhere along the way.

Mom knows I'm an atheist. I know she hates that. I know she loves me. I know I've got this nagging impulse to test the boundary of that love at times.

I do have this urge to push the envelope a little, so to speak...to try & help her learn just a little bit not about atheistic views per se, but some things I've been learning along the way that she might see as less of a threat if she knew more about.... ya' know, like Darwin, and evolution....

In my original post I was reflecting a desire to do just that during our conversation, but instead chose to relate to Mom by finding common ground. I see posts on FB and such that seem to reflect others 'pwning' their loved ones....so I was just sayin' that even though I do strive to push the envelope, I don't want to 'pwn' my mom, and in the end there has to be a way to balance a relationship so that both parties can be heard and valued.

I wasn't actually asking for advice, per se, just sharing a reflection, thinking out loud...not to say the kind words weren't appreciated, of course....and then someone asks a question which compels me to answer and the next thing ya' know, me and my thread, we're all ova' the place....oy....

So, my apologies if I wasn't clear or cohesive enough....such is the nature of things I guess, in a public forum....too many avenues with all these brilliant minds putting a new spin on things Blush

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