Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tension on the home front

So I go and shoot off my mouth on someone else's blog the other day about how I get along so well with my family and end up in a shouting match with my mom this morning. Just to state this upfront- I do get irritated with my mother quite often but I really try to use it as a learning experience. I know that we are more alike than I care to admit and where we are different, its still more because of her (and my dad) than despite them. So it gives me lots to think about, and ultimately, spending time thinking about it makes me a better parent, I think.

But still. This woman is pushing my buttons.

My mom likes to be in control. Of everyone. And everything. No matter how little she is actually involved in the business at hand, if it involves one of her children, she wants to organize it. Always at the last minute, of course, throwing everyone into a tizzy, but its never too late to get involved. This means, for example, that when my 32 year-old cousin was flying into the airport and either myself or my 45 year-old uncle were available to pick him up, she got on the phone (2000 miles away, while on vacation) with my aunt to sort it out rather than let us do it ourselves. As if we three were somehow incapable of speech. Or rational thought. Or the gumption to pick up a phone. Its infuriating.

So its really no surprise that she did it again this week. My sister who has three children was leaving for 4 days to spend time with a girlfriend. Her husband just got a new job last week so she suddenly had to sort out babysitting for her kids. Naturally, my mother immediately began to make noises about just taking on all three kids for the entire time. Luckily, my sister nixed that idea since my mom is supposed to be resting up for some major surgery in two weeks. Instead, she organized to have our cousin's daughter come over for two days to cover for the time her husband was busy. She asked me if I could watch her middle boy, Mac, for a few hours in the afternoon to give the sitter a break and let Ella have a bit of a playdate, which I readily agreed to. And my mom busily offered to run over, do dinner, put them to bed, have
Mac for a sleepover, and I don't know what all. To be honest, I decided not to listen. I'm so used to her meddling, that I know there is no point in trying to tell her to back off. Besides, at the end of the day, it might be bad for her health but she has to decide if she has the energy for all these extra projects. What was I going to do- tell her not to spend time with her grandkids?

Last night, while stopping by my mom's house on her way out of town, my sister told me that there would be two kids coming to babysit the boys so I didn't need to worry about having Mac over to play with Ella for hours and hours. It would be better for him to be at the house since she would be paying two sitters anyway. Fine with me. It sounded like everything was organized.

Well, this morning, my mom starts packing her bag to go to my grandfather's house, and she tells me that she thinks she will spend the night. I was kind of bummed to have to stay home since it was a gorgeous day, and Ella was begging to go up to the lake, but I had promised to watch Mac for a few hours so it would have to be another day. Then just before walking out the door, she picks up the phone and she asks me if I want Mac to come over right away or if I would be going to play with them at my sister's house. Well, Ella and I weren't even dressed yet (it wasn't 10 yet and we are on vacay, let me remind you), so I was kind of surprised at the rush. I said he could come over. Would I need to feed him lunch then? I thought the babysitters were coming later in the day, but I hadn't listened to closely to my sister the day before. Well, mom says, yeah. Give him lunch but maybe he should stay for dinner as well to help the sitters out. Okay, now I was confused. Was my brother-in-law at home right now? Yes, was the answer. In that case, I asked, since he'll be at work tonight, weren't you going to have Mac spend the night here? Yes, was the answer again. Let me get this straight, I said. You want me to have Mac over now. Feed him lunch. Entertain him all afternoon, although Ella will be in bed and I need a nap today. Feed him dinner. Drag my tired ass through the torturous bedtime routine all by myself with an extra child to take care of. And send him home the next day, after 24 hours of babysitting that no one asked me if I was willing to do and which apparently is not even helping out my sis?

"Its not going to be any extra work for you at all. And anyways, you knew about this plan all along. We talked about it in front of you yesterday. " was my mom's response.

First of all, I heard my mom volunteering to do all sorts of things for the kids over the course of the weekend. From what my sister told me, it was unnecessary, but if my mom wanted to do it, it was her business. But I think she really stepped over the line, volunteering me for a job that was actually a big commitment. I am an adult and my sister is an adult and if she needed this kind of help she needed to speak to me directly. I told my mom that if she volunteered to watch the kids, she was free to do that. But she couldn't volunteer to do a job, decide to leave town instead, and then just pass it off to me without even asking if I was up to it.

She said I was the most selfish person she had ever met.

I told her that she was out of control. I didn't promise anyone I would do that, I wasn't willing to do it, and I wouldn't do it. And she should stop thinking that she had any right to make plans or commitments on my part without speaking to me about it first. I was an adult and perfectly capable of managing my own time and commitments, thank you very much.

Honestly, I am so fed up with her doing this kind of thing. We'll have stuff totally sorted out and then my mom has to get in the middle and start 'improving' our plans. There is always an underdog that she thinks hasn't been able to defend his interests well enough and so she is there to referee and make sure that there is some overly complicated plan in place that she has masterminded that rights all the world's wrongs.


She was mad as hell when she left the house but I don't care. I was mad as hell as well. I think she stepped way over the line. I think that she needs to be told very very clearly that her 'helpfulness' is often turning into 'meddling' and 'interfering.' I'm not very optimistic about her actually having heard what I said but still. It needed to be said and a few days of tension are well worth it if she starts to realize that she needs to treat her adult children like adults. Even when she is certain that she can handle things a million times better than us.

On top of it all, she was diagnosed with cancer recently and instead of making her stop and take a good look at how she is taking care of herself (which is badly), she is storming ahead, business as usual, taking care of everyone else's stuff. She can't realize that the best way to take care of other people is to make sure that she stays healthy. I think a really a big part of the fight this morning is that I am so angry with her for putting so little emphasis on her own health. She's being totally cavaliere about this diagnosis and acting like its no big deal and nothing we say to her seems to make her realize she is going to end up dead if she doesn't take this seriously. I'm glad that she is optimistic and I don't want to change that. But isn't there some healthy middle ground?

1 comment:

Young Werther said...

I see my parents once a year, never more than 3 days, haven't seen sis for 20 years and brother dear, that was in 2006.

It helps that we're all over the world :)