Recently, The Times of London ran a story on something so taboo none of us wanted to touch it: Jealous mothers. As in, moms who are envious of their offspring — of their money. success, happiness. Writes Charlotte Phillips: "Become a mother and the assumption... is that even the most flawed of human beings will be transformed into an icon of Madonna-like tranquillity, pathologically incapable of doing anything more than dishing out unconditional love and unqualified approval to their offspring. Jealousy, with its destructive, negative emotions, is seen as particularly shocking in this context."
Phillips tells the story of a woman, Meg, who tried for years to get the approval of her mother. "I treated her to a trip to London. I got her Centre Court tickets for Wimbledon and meals at top restaurants," Meg says. "At the end, all she said was, 'You take me to these places to make me feel small.'"
Phillips herself admits to once mentioning to other moms how tough it would be for her if her daughter wrote a bestselling book. "The collective intake of breath from the other mothers was strong enough to suck the foam off my cappuccino," she claims. In another case, one mother was jealous that her daughter was taking a big trip to South America; somewhere the mom had always wanted to go. The mother voiced concerns to her daughter about the risks of traveling alone. "In the end, she pressured her daughter into inviting her along, too. Her daughter felt resentful and the relationship took a nosedive from which it never recovered." Relationship counselor Denise Knowles says, "I think there are times when every mother can be jealous of her daughters. But they cover it with pride, joy, sadness and anger; all feelings you're allowed to admit to."
Family is nothing without baggage, guilt and jealousy, but what is it about the bond between mothers and daughters that can invoke jealousy? Why is it that mothers are not allowed to feel jealousy — a basic human emotion? And what is a daughter with a jealous mother to do?
When The Green-Eyed Monster Is Mum [The Times]