My narcissist mother’s hate-crush on Martha Stewart.


I hesitated about posting this because earlier this year I found out my mother has read this blog and ever since,  I’ve felt inhibited about posting anything bad about her.

But why? What’s she gonna do? Not talk to me? We don’t talk anyway. Say bad things about me behind my back?  She does that too.  Why am I still so worried she might “disapprove?” She’s never approved of me and never will, so fuck it, I’m posting this because it’s funny.

My mother was consumed with Martha Stewart-envy, but would rather have laid on a bed of nails than ever admit it.

She was a woman who perceived herself to be the perfect housewife, perfect corporate hostess, perfect chef, perfect decorator, and perfect party-giver.  She held herself up as a paragon of upper-middle class feminine virtue.    When she was married to my father, she prided herself on her flawless and memorable cocktail parties (no matter that both she and my father spent the entire time drunk and arguing loudly at these events in front of their guests).  She crowed to anyone who would listen that she could whip up a gourmet meal worthy of Julia Child’s praise (to be fair, she actually was a good cook but she wasn’t THAT good).  She also thought of herself as a world-class interior decorator even though the kitchen in the house we lived in was outdated by about 40 years and never had any modernizations or improvements done to it (the fixtures were all white enameled metal, the floor was cracked multicolor-speckled brown linoleum, and counter space was nonexistent), the ancient floral wallpaper in most of the bedrooms was dingy and yellow with age (this was the original wallpaper in our 1920s Dutch colonial revival house), and every room in the public areas were carpeted with the same boring beige wall-to-wall because the hardwood floors looked like shit.

She did, in fact, have a short lived career as an interior decorator, and to be fair, she was probably reasonably skilled, but you’d never know it looking at our house. Our Christmas tree was always boring too–every year the same white lights and red and silver ornaments went on the tree (no other colors allowed) because anything more colorful was deemed “tacky” even though there was a child in the house.

After my parents divorced, my mother went into public relations and bragged constantly about how successful she was in her field and how everyone wanted to be her client because of her flawless skills, sparkling charisma, and her ability to sell ice to an Eskimo. Although she never achieved fame and riches, she liked to live as if she had both, and looked down on people who had “regular jobs.” But one thing my mother never had much of was creativity, although she liked to brag that she did.

Martha Stewart was everything my mother wished she was: a woman who had parlayed her creative homemaking, decorating, and cooking skills into a huge empire; a woman who appeared on TV talk shows, wrote books, published a glossy magazine, and had countless articles written about her in national publications. My mother hated Martha Stewart. She never passed up an opportunity to rail on about Martha’s terrible taste in decor and table presentations, her weight (to my mother, Martha was “fat”), her “tentlike” clothes, her irritating personality, her flat “peasant-like” facial features, her obsession with fattening desserts rather than healthy salads and lean meats, and her overuse of tacky primary colors and insipid pastels (my mother was the Queen of Beige, an evil color if I ever saw one–is it even a color?). For a normal woman with my mother’s range of interests, someone like Martha Stewart could have been an inspiration, but to a narcissist like my mother, she presented a huge threat; she was someone who had the potential to make my mother’s domestic and entertaining skills look uninspired and pedestrian in comparison.


When the story broke on the news that Martha Stewart got arrested for tax fraud, my mother actually rubbed her hands together with glee and her eyes glittered in a Mean Girls sort of way. She literally squealed in delight when Martha was shown being taken off in handcuffs to the minimum security womens’ prison where she would live for the next five months, to be followed by another five months of house arrest. “Common criminal,” my mother sniffed contemptuously. “She had it coming. What’s she going to do? Sew tacky curtains for the barred windows?”

I’ve never been a big fan of Martha Stewart either but I thought her attitude in prison was classy, refreshing, and even touching. She treated her cellmates–mostly women of far lower social class than she was–with respect and dignity, and from everything I heard, all the women there adored her and they all cried when she was released. One of the girls knit Martha a clunky homemade shawl, which Martha proudly wore in front of the cameras as she was escorted away. I thought Martha handled what could have been an incredibly embarrassing situation with class and good humor. I pointed how nice Martha’s attitude was.
“I think it’s so cool the way she treats all those girls like human beings, and makes them feel valued.”
Always the wet blanket, my mother hissed, “well, you don’t know what she’s like when the camera isn’t on her.”*

That’s what narcissists do. They’re wet blankets. Maybe Martha Stewart can do something creative with those too.


* Martha Stewart’s daughter reports that her mother was anything but ideal, and was probably a narcissist.  That may be true but I still thought her attitude toward her cellmates was admirable, even if it was only to make a good impression to the public.

20 thoughts on “My narcissist mother’s hate-crush on Martha Stewart.

  1. Great post! I love the way you write. This was great. Your mom may not like it, but she is seeing your perspective. I can’t stand Martha Stewart but I agree with you about how she was a class act when she left prison.

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  2. I had one of those mothers also, though mine was no where near as bad as yours. My mother died alone, and well I could have cared less. People are always posting mother related stuff on Facebook. I’m always tempted to write something snarky about my mother in response, but alas, I have FB friends from my old neighborhood, and they all thought my mom was so great. If they only knew. Thanks for the great post.

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      • It was always so hard picking out a Mother’s day card. You know the ones that say pretty much nothing. I wouldn’t have even sent them, but she would gripe to my siblings like it was the end of the world if I didn’t. She treated her friends way better than she treated us. It was difficult at her funeral when I had to fake how I felt about her for several hours. To add insult to injury, the bitch had cut me out of her will right before she died. I hope it’s very toasty where ever she ended up!

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        • I can relate to this so much. As for Mothers Day and birthday cards, it’s always so hard to find one, because all of them are so sentimental and say things I don’t mean, like “You were always there for me when I was down,” etc. Yuck. I guess it’s fine if you actually feel that way about your mom but if you don’t, finding a card is hard. I still do send cards, but I always wind up picking an impersonal, generic one, like the kind that come in a box at Christmas that you also give to the plumber.

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            • I went many periods of time with no contact what so ever with my mom. I think the longest I went was three years. I didn’t live in the same city, so that made it a lot easier. I always told her if she was going to talk smack to me, she wouldn’t see me again. I’m guessing that may be one of the reasons I was disinherited. My mother was really rotten to me, so there was no love loss. The only thing I really learned from her was how not to treat my kids my crap. I adore my son and would do anything for him. She claimed because she was an only child that she didn’t know how to be nice. Wow, she treated my siblings like kings and queens, and I was the red headed step child at the family reunion. (She had red hair by the way) LOL

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            • I got disowned too, the reasons are complicated but make no sense and would never be a reason to disinherit a child in any normal family. But, whatevs. It is what it is, and is never going to change. I’m not even angry anymore. I live about 900 miles away from mine, and haven’t seen my mother since 2009.

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            • I’m over it too. I lived 300 miles away from mine. I think my mother was mad because I moved away. All my siblings still live in the town I grew up in. But she’s dead now, so I guess I’ll never really know, and that’s fine with me.

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            • My mother moved to where the rest of her family is, and none of them speak to me. I think she’s been badmouthing me to all of them and they all believe her. They don’t even know me, and that’s the way she likes it. I’m never invited to any family functions not that I’d go anyway. I am the black sheep.

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            • I don’t exactly “live well” and that is one of her problems with me. I embarrass her because of my impoverished circumstances, not that I was ever given the tools to become self confident and do well in life. I was trained to be narcissistic supply and a victim, and until recently that’s exactly what i was. I was good at it. Then i started blogging and now I’m in therapy and I’m learning I’m a valuable person in my own right, even if my own family will never recognize that. I’m an HSP and I think sensitive children are often singled out for emotional abuse.

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  3. I’m glad you are getting help. Living well can mean other things. Having a loving relationship with my child is something my mother was never capable of having. I was never good enough according to my mother, didn’t have a second home, not making a six figure income, blah, blah, blah. Feeling good about yourself is key. My mom always tried to make me feel bad about myself, and was never successful. Good luck my sister from another mister!

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