As most of you know, I started this company as a way of processing impossible grief. A way of channeling my feelings of rage and sadness and loneliness into a positive light. Malicious Women Candle Co has given me, and so many other woman, the voice to say what we normally keep inside, for fear of judgment or shame or maybe because the “F” word is just not considered socially acceptable for a woman to use in everyday conversation. And today…this day, I find myself in a tough position. Do I dare make the candle I really want to make? For Me? My inner Little Lacie is shaking at the enormity of my rebellion. I need to MAKE and LIGHT this candle, and I need to explain why.
All my life I have battled with what ‘good enough’ is. To this day, I still don’t know, I still can’t see it completely. I continually compare myself to other makers, my coworkers, other wives and moms and friends. My Anxiety Girl is real. She wears a cape and proudly boasts an "a" on her chest. Logically and through a shit-ton of therapy, I know these spinning thoughts are not real. I know I make the very best candle that I can possibly make. I know I have broken the chain of abuse and I love my children unconditionally. I try and give out sincere praise for their achievements and try so hard not to give unsolicited advice when they struggle. I know I love my husband and work so hard to give the physical touch and affirmation that is my husband’s love language. But still, I demand more of myself, because I still don’t feel good enough.
My mother did a number on me. She controlled me through guilt and shame. Just ask her. She will go into long stories bragging that “guilt is how you get to a child’s heart.” She will brag about withholding attention or physical love to control behavior. She is proud of it. She believed in spare the rod and spoil the child and regularly told me how my kids needed to be spanked when they were young. “You gotta keep the fear strong” she would say. My mother used manipulation and criticism as her way of “just trying to help” or “motivate me to do my best.” She believed reverse psychology would encourage me to try harder, do better, achieve more. Always more, never enough. If it was grades, why didn’t I get an A+ if I brought home an A. If it was my appearance, You’d be so much prettier if ______.” She never came to my sports events in high school because they were boring. “Why would I want to come watch you run in a circle?” when I asked her to come to my track meets. She didn’t attend my kids’ events because it was too cold…or long…or whatever the reason was that she couldn’t give us her attention. If only we engaged in more interesting activities, she would be there. It was my fault, always my fault she wasn’t there. She told me not to join debate, because no one liked a girl who argued. The list goes on…
This candle is for me.
Last Mother’s Day, I had to finally invite my toxic mother to leave my life. My gift wasn’t “good enough” and she got royally pissed. I made her a very large 3-wick, double scented candle in her favorite scent. I hand-dipped tiny roses from her own garden and placed them individually in the wax as the candle was curing. I tested the candle to make sure both cold and hot throw was perfect, then made it again. I wrapped it carefully and tied the gift with gold ribbon- just the way she expected gifts to be presented. She hated it. She said it didn’t show any effort because I make candles for strangers. She tossed it aside and raved over my sister’s gift – which was also amazing. A hand painted flower pot, every detail perfect. My sisters know the expectations as well. That Mother’s day, she was the favorite. We all know her love comes in cycles.
This Thanksgiving was the best Holiday I can remember in 20 years. This year I served mashed potatoes out of the pan, made the deviled eggs with plain-old yellow mustard, the way I like them and made the biggest green bean casserole you could imagine. Yup, the way “trashy people” like to eat them. I used canned cream of mushroom soup, an entire bag of pre-shredded cheese and you know I had French fried onions an inch thick. I set out paper plates and we ate dinner on the sofas while watching a Christmas movie. We all talked and laughed and no one told anyone their political views were wrong or that there was too much pepper in the gravy. I shit you not, last year my mother brought a HAM to MY thanksgiving in case the turkey didn’t turn out. WTF does that? This is the first Thanksgiving that I didn’t stress about presentation or timing or anything. It was so incredibly perfect.
Cutting my toxic mother from my life was not easy. Matter of fact, for months I had to fight the urge to crawl back and ask forgiveness to get back in to her good graces. It gets easier though…breaking free. It is so foreign to just be loved and accepted by people who just love and accept me. I still don’t know how to process praise. I read the comments on FB or IG and still struggle with a response because my first thought is “People are just being nice.”
She recently told one of my sisters that she hopes my business fails and that I end in ruin. She is still upset that I never took her advice to redesign my labels into something a little more “feminine.” I explained the candle label was designed with purpose. I chose to design them bold and strong, the way a woman’s voice should be. She called that “nonsense.”
As I have spent the last two days packaging all the “You’re the Mom Everyone Wishes They Had” and the “Merry Christmas Mom” candles, I have a pang of jealousy for all of you that have moms you can talk to. I wish in my heart I had that mom. It also encourages me that there are so many wonderful moms out there lovin’ on their daughters. That is the relationship I am trying to build with my sons and daughter.
All I can do is try to be the best mom I can possibly be and continue to ask myself “What would my mom do?” And then…do the polar-opposite.