Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wish me luck, I'm gonna need it.

In just a few short hours my mother will be here. For a week. Under my roof.
She will stay seven days. I will not be able to fulfill all her of the unrealistic expectations. She will have a fantasy vacation in her mind, I will not be able to deliver, she will pout, things will be tense, and I will feel guilty. Rinse, repeat. For seven days.

I am hopeful things will be different this time, but I am not naive.

I feel guilty and she hasn’t even crossed the threshold. I have always longed for a closer relationship with my mom, the kind of relationship she, in her fantasy world, thinks we already have. And that, my friends, is where most of our difficulties lie. I live here, on earth, she physically lives here, but mentally who knows where she calls home.

In my mom’s reality we are close, like sisters. We talk about everything, and share our deepest hopes and dreams. In my reality my mom scares me a little. She doesn’t listen, she mostly talks, and mostly about herself or she tells me about all the scandalous things she has encountered lately. She points out the flaws of those around her, friend or foe. She gives parenting advice that I am loathe to listen to considering her track record.

Sure I know WHY she does it, but that doesn’t make it any easier to listen to. I have spent years (and millions of dollars on therapy) trying to shed the baggage I took when I left home (or when home left me to go marry husband #3). In my head I know how to react to my mom, but when she comes around my heart turns me into a bitter teenager. Logic goes out the window and I behave in a most unbecoming manner.

In my mom’s reality she is the best grandma ever. In my kids reality she’s kind of weird. She’s too touchy, her moods swing in unpredictable waves, and she likes her dog just a little more than she likes the kids. Girls rule, boys drool-and heaven forbid they do it near the dog. Too much loud noise makes her uptight, and I have four sons, one bossy daughter and a dog of my own, you do the math.

She comes with expectations we cannot meet, but to her credit, she does come without her dog. I know already that I will fail. I cannot be her dream daughter, partly because she was not my dream mother, but also because her dream daughter does not exist. I would love to have a pleasant visit, to enjoy our time, but her pleasant and my pleasant are not often the same thing.

Here’s hoping for middle ground.

When it is time for her to go she will cry. She will tell me that she had the best time and that she wishes she could stay longer. She will tell me how hard it is to be so far away and she will go home and tell her friends how wonderful her trip was. Then she will tell them how I let my kids stay up too late and eat too much cereal.


Ward and June said...

How to handle a visit from your mother and retain your sanity:

Step One-


Step Two-


Step Three-

Remember that she's only going to be there for a week, and remember how quickly most weeks fly by.

Step Four-


Step Five-

Let crazy be crazy until it truly is inapproriate. If she isn't hurting anyone (only creeping them out a little) let it be.

Step Six-

Stand your ground when you need to.

Step Seven-

Forget the past (or at least try to bury it a little deeper this week).

Step Eight-

Relax. And remember, if things get too bad there is always hard liquor.


wesley's mom said...

Your wit never fails to amuse me.

Becky said...

I was intrigued by the subject of your post. I've always felt like a big fat loser because I can feel an ulcer coming on anytime my mom visits. I figured I was a bad seed for not loving to hang out with my dear old mum. I wish I had a great relationship with her, but I just don't see it happening in this lifetime. Here's hoping you survive the week with sanity and dignity intact! :)