The Green-Eyed Mother: Being The Target Of A Parent's Envy

How I lived with my mom's all-encompassing jealousy.

Jealous mother of adult daughter Iurii Maksymiv, KatarzynaBialasiewicz | Canva

My mother taught me how to read when I was three. The first word she taught me was "LOOK." With her artistic touch, she adorned the O’s with two dots, giving the impression of a pair of watchful eyes. From that moment on, reading became my passion, and I surprised my kindergarten teacher by devouring entire books.

My mom was probably the smartest person I’ve ever known. Her diverse interests in photography, stained glass-making, and the mysteries of the universe fascinated me. She firmly believed in extraterrestrial life, claiming that aliens existed across the vastness of the galaxy. She could also rope a bucking horse like nobody’s business.


My mom possessed a warm, endearing nature that instantly charmed anyone she met. However, I found myself excluded from this circle of affection. My father once told me that my mother harbored jealousy towards me even as an infant. "You love her more than you love me," she allegedly complained when he was playing with me on the floor.

Although I struggled to accept that she was actually jealous, it became painfully evident when I was a young woman and she called me, gleefully announcing her impulsive decision to marry a man she had known for only a few months.


"Haha, I’m getting married before you," she taunted.

A few years later, when I prepared for my own wedding, my mother threatened to "freak out" at the ceremony. She cautioned me that I might have to look after her to make sure she was okay. I felt a mix of confusion and sadness, unsure how to respond.

My mother-in-law, upon hearing about the call, offered a solemn warning. "Glenna, your mother is jealous of you."

RELATED: 9 Subtle Signs That Your Mother Is Jealous Of You

At the tender age of thirteen, my loving feelings for my mother completely died. She cheated on my father and threatened me if I told him. She was also a raging alcoholic. I vividly recall instances where she endangered our lives, narrowly escaping collisions with a trailer truck and driving recklessly on a bridge in the wrong direction.


I didn’t trust her. I felt continuously manipulated by her. Her toxic presence cast a shadow over my life, leading me to keep her at a distance throughout my adulthood. The only personal information I’d tell her over the phone was that I was "just fine." Frankly, I was more than a little afraid of her and what she would say or do in response.

After not seeing my mom for a decade, she visited my house right after the birth of my first child. When she came over to meet my son, she was wearing so much makeup that I could barely recognize her. She also seemed to have put on every piece of junk jewelry that she owned. It was very obvious that she felt insecure about seeing me after so long. I was polite and let her hold the baby for as long as she wanted. It was the first time I felt sorry for her instead of angry.

Despite my mom’s insecurities, I never viewed our relationship as a competition.

When she would say sarcastically, "Oh, your life is so perfect," I wouldn’t comment and instead tried to swiftly end the conversation. I had no desire to participate in the peculiar race she believed we were in. All I ever longed for was a mother’s love.


In the few instances when I confronted her about these issues, she dismissed my anger. She told me that I was wrong to be mad at her. She said she couldn’t help having a mental illness that made her behave that way. Over time, as I grappled with my own battle against mental illness, I realized her explanation was a hollow apology. After all, mental illness didn’t make me cruel or hurtful.

RELATED: 5 Triggers Of People Who Had Emotionally Volatile Mothers

My mother had a litany of resentment for me. She claimed that my husband treated me like royalty and that I treated him like crap. She repeated this to everyone she knew. I overheard her saying it one day, and it hurt me deeply. Not only were her claims untrue, but the fact that my own mother would speak badly of me caused profound pain.

The strangest part of my mother’s behavior was the fawning adoration. She’d gaze at me as if I was a spectacle, constantly showering me with empty compliments about how beautiful, brilliant, and perfect she thought I was. She told me I was perfect at singing, dancing, and reading. It was an awful lot for a little girl to live up to. My mom acted like she wanted to be me sometimes. Her admiration made me feel uncomfortable, reduced to an object rather than being her cherished daughter.


I never understood why my mother couldn’t find contentment within herself. Why did she turn everything into a competition? I was an innocent child who needed her mother to love and care for her. Instead, my mother gossiped about me and manipulated me. It wasn’t a healthy relationship for either one of us.

My mom and I never had a chance to form a real mother-daughter relationship. We never did things together like shopping or having lunch together. Most of the time, I actively avoided her, going out of my way to keep my distance. When she moved to a different state, I never went to visit her. The empty space within my heart longed for a mother’s love, but not from the one I had.

Tragically, my mother died in an accident a few years ago. Initially, I had a ton of regret that we never reconciled. I always assumed there would be more time to make amends, but my fear of reaching out prevented any progress. Each attempt to connect only reopened old wounds that caused more pain. We simply weren’t compatible as mother and daughter, and I blamed myself for not trying to bridge the gap.

Ironically, despite my mom gushing over me, I grew up with incredibly low self-esteem. I didn’t believe her constant empty praise. Deep down, I knew I wasn’t the most beautiful, talented, or perfect person in the world. Nobody could claim that. I perceived her words as lies, which they often were, eroding my belief in myself.


RELATED: 12 Devastating Ways Your Narcissistic Mother Lied To You About Who You Are

Through multiple therapy sessions, I finally found my self-worth. I came to understand that my mother’s love should have been unconditional, not based on superficial factors like appearance. It took time, but I learned to recognize my inner beauty, no matter what my mother said.

I wish my mom had been secure enough to realize that I was no threat to her at all and simply see me as her daughter. She had no reason to be jealous, and I will never fully understand the reasons for it.

A mother’s love should be simple and pure. That’s the way I treat my three children. The humbling experience of parenthood has shaped me profoundly, teaching me to choose my words carefully. My kids know I love them with no conditions. While I am proud of their accomplishments, I don’t put them on pedestals. They are allowed to be themselves with me, and I hope I give them a safe space to do that.


There were plenty of good things about my mom. She possessed a vibrant sense of humor, a love for classic movies, and an affinity for all things Star Wars. She could handle four Arabian horses at a time with ease. The people who knew her absolutely loved her.

It was almost like we were mismatched — as if she had brought the wrong baby home from the hospital. No matter how kind and loving she could be, we seemed to clash from the moment I entered this world.

The word "mother" is not just a title. It embodies an entire way of being. I wish my mom had understood this, allowing her love to transcend rivalry. Finally armed with a sense of self-worth, I wish I could share my growth with her. Regrettably, I don’t know if she’d be happy for me.


Being a child doesn’t have to hurt.

Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States. According to the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 28.3 percent of adults report being physically abused as a child, and 10.6 percent of adults report being emotionally abused as a child.

Physical abuse of a child is when a parent or caregiver causes any non-accidental physical injury to a child, including striking, kicking, burning, biting, hair pulling, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping, or any other action that injures a child. Even if the caregiver didn’t mean to cause injury, when the child is injured it is abuse. When a parent or caregiver harms a child’s mental and social development or causes severe emotional harm, it is considered emotional abuse. While a single incident may be abuse, most often emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that causes damage over time. There are many physical and behavioral signs of child abuse in both the child and the parent or caretaker.

To learn more about these signs, visit the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline’s website. If you suspect a child you know is being abused physically or emotionally, contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline for more resources at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.


RELATED: 6 Things People Don't Realize You Do Because You Were Raised By A Toxic Mother

Glenna Gill is a writer and blogger from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her articles have been featured in Scary Mommy and P.S. I Love You. When I Was Lost is her first full-length book, a memoir of love, loss, and hope.