First off, in case you haven’t picked up on it yet: you are FAR from alone with this phenomenon !
“Is my mother always going to make me feel like I’m 12 years old ?”
Maybe. It all depends on what your mother takes as her criteria for accepting you as an adult. It may be marriage, it may be having children (her grandchildren), it may be age. What make it worse is that she can’t really tell you because she is likely not aware that she even has this criteria or threshold that’s she holding you to. Or there may not be any criteria, and she will always treat you as a child. Sad, but you do have to consider that a possibility.
At 46 years of age, I have come to the realization that I have not met my mom’s criteria, and I likely never will (and I have no clue what that criteria is). What is important is that I came to this realization that my mom will ALWAYS treat me like a child - to the point of being rude, embarassing or what not. And that complaining and arguing about it will neither help the situation, nor affect any future dealings. This may sound like kind of a defeatist attitude, but after all these years, it’s the best I have come up with (she’s as stubborn as they get).
What has been fascinating to me is noticing how my mom’s siblings, my aunts and uncles, have altered how they deal with me as I’ve grown up, but how my mom never has changed. I am pretty sure it was graduating college and entering the working world that did it for my aunts and uncles. But it was a very dramatic change, and I noticed it. Just studying what I did in college gave me “points”, but once I started pulling in a living wage, they really started to give me respect. This really struck me - these were the same aunts and uncles that changed my diapers and tossed me up in the air at one time. And now they were treating me like an adult - not asking questions like the Gestapo expecting an answer, respecting that I was capable of making important decisions for myself, etc… Of course, my mom was oblivious to this change in her siblings.
What you need to recognize for yourself is 1) whether you really need your mother/parent’s approval for validation and 2) if so, why ? It may be a painful phase to finally recognize that parents aren’t always right and make bad decisions and mistakes just like the rest of humanity. And that you don’t always agree with their point of view. So along those same lines, you need to recognize that you have a mind/will of your own. You are entitled to your beliefs and opinions JUST as much as they are - and they can be JUST as valid as their beliefs and opinions even though they may be conflicting. That is, you have a mind of your own that deserves the same respect you’ve shown your parents’.
Having come to that realization, then, it will be easier to not give so much weight to your mom’s arguments. You can “agree to disagree”. She may not let it drop that easily (insisting on “correcting her child”), but you don’t have to let it make you feel like the ungrateful, disobedient child for disagreeing with her. It will take some time, but you will be much happier once you get there. The pain comes from the conflict between sticking to your guns at the cost of disagreeing with your mom (and being a “bad child”).
I don’t have any kids, nor ever plan to. But in my observations of life I have concluded that the best parents raise their kids to become responsible adults, and then “let them go” - acknowledge that they ARE adults and capable of living their own lives. Including letting them make mistakes from which they will learn. As cliched as the analogy is, those nature documentaries where the mother bird kicks out their young when they learn to fly really does apply to humans. The job of the parents is to prepare the kids for life ON THEIR OWN - not continue to shield/protect them for their entire life. Those birds know this, but many humans (particularly mothers) can’t seem to “get” this.