Is it possible that most of our problems in life actually stem from our mothers?
Two days before we left for our Caribbean vacation, my mother called me. It was pretty late in the evening, after the kids had gone to bed. She said she was at her brother’s place, in the metro Atlanta area, and had been for about ten days. But this was the first I had heard from her. She had not let me know she was coming to town or that she was here once she arrived. She said she was leaving to go back home in two days. She wanted to know if I would load the kids up and come visit her at her brother’s before she had to go. I was in the midst of getting ready for a week-long trip out of the country. I was trying to get everything packed for five people to be gone for eight days to a place where the shopping was extremely limited if I forgot anything. I had to find passports and birth certificates. I was already super stressed. There was no way I could drop everything and go visit her on such short notice when I had such a large deadline looming over me. So, I had to tell her no. She was sad and mopey about that.
She gets her feelings hurt pretty easily. She is very fragile emotionally. Anytime I tell her no, she takes it personally. Like a rejection of her as a mother and a friend and a loving parent. It is hard for me to always tip-toe around her problems. I have problems of my own, you know? I can barely function when I have to travel. I get so overwhelmed and freaked out. But she was offended that I wasn’t going to bring the kids to see her. Even though I explained about our trip and the time crunch.
One or two days after we got home from our vacation, she called again. We usually talk on the phone once a week, sometimes only once every two weeks or so. Depends on her health, she doesn’t like to talk when she is sick or headachy and she is both of those pretty often. Depends on my busy-ness, I can’t talk if she happens to call while I am doing co-op and I can’t talk very well if she calls when I am cooking dinner. So, I try to tell her a little bit about our trip. It doesn’t really go well.
Some background here, every summer my mother-in-law takes my kids to the Gulf for a week at the beach. But in 2005, she turned 60 and wanted to take a trip to St. John. My mother and my husband’s father and step-mother, all came to my house and stayed here for a week with my little ones and hubby, the oldest child, and I went to St John with my mother-in-law. In addition to taking my kids to the beach, my mother-in-law takes my nephew. He is halfway between my two boys and the age dynamic and the playtime seems to work really well. Since my mother lives just a couple of hours from the Gulf herself, my mother-in-law also always detours on the way down and picks up my mother and takes her to the beach along with the kids. Just because she is generous and friendly and nice like that. Last summer, at the end of the beach week, mother-in-law informs my mother and my nephew that she has tons of plans summer 2010 and there will not be the usual beach trip. Part of that plan is the trip to St John that we just got back from.
So, I am talking to my mother about the ocean and snorkeling and what-not. She actually get her feelings hurt and acts a little offended because my mother-in-law told her there was no beach trip this year and obviously we just went to the beach with her and mother wasn’t invited. She mentions it several times. I explain to her that this was not the regular beach trip, it was a four-hour plane ride to an island. Not a week at the Gulf, nowhere near her. Not spare bed space in a rental a few hours away. A major plane trip across the ocean to one of the US Virgin Islands. She still mentions it a few more times, like “She told me she wasn’t going to the beach. I would have enjoyed the beach. She said she was too busy this summer.” *sigh*
Fast forward a week or so and my little kids are out-of-town and it is just me and the husband and the teenager. I am trying super hard to get the house clean. The kids rooms are so bad you literally can not walk in the door without stepping on toys. Books are under the toys. Papers and strings and toys and books and blue painter’s tape and crayons and shoes and OMG everything they ever owned or played with is in the floor! And some of it isn’t in their rooms, no, some is in the living room and the tv room and the hallway and spilling down the stairs. Did I mention that my depression got bad in the late spring and early summer and I didn’t accomplish anything at all for weeks on end? The house looks like someone moved out in the middle of the night and forgot to take their stuff with them.
My mother calls and says that I should drive to her place and stay for a few days while the kids are away. Cause I have all this spare time? And I shouldn’t worry about cleaning the house, I can do that when I get back. I should just drive down there and sleep at her house and hang out with her. I hem and haw and tell her I will try to do it. I hate telling her no. She takes it as a personal rejection. I try to avoid it when at all possible. So, I am passive-aggressive about it. I tell her some things I have to do, I have co-op and I made a commitment to do delivery for them, I can’t miss it and leave them in a lurch. I pick up a basket for my sister when I do co-op. I have to take her basket to her, and visit the baby and help her out. She is doing a lot better, but I still worry about the postpartum depression. I know her partner isn’t as much help as she needs. I know she feels guilty about everything that doesn’t go perfectly. I know when the baby cries, she thinks it is her fault. I like being with the baby. I like hanging with my sister. I tell my mother I have that commitment, too. Maybe after then…
She calls the day after I visit my sister. She wants to know if I am on my way. I have to tell her no. I tell her the teenager and I are cleaning his room today. It is a huge ordeal. I think his room was last cleaned in 2005 or so. It is an unholy mess. I am hot and tired and working and I have so much more to do. She does not get the hint that I am too busy to come visit. She thinks I am working too hard and should just ditch it and visit anyway. She says she will call me the next morning and wake me up and make me get out of bed and come on down. I do not disagree as such. But the next morning, she does not call.
She does not call all day. Nor does she call the next day. The third day I go back to my sister’s. My mother doesn’t call then either. Now it is the fourth day and she hasn’t called and I haven’t called and I haven’t loaded my ass in the car and gone down there either. And I have co-op tomorrow. Then I have to take a basket to my sister the next day. Then I have Thursday and the kids come home on Friday. So, I am totally not going to my mother’s. I am also not telling her I am not coming. She has stopped calling and asking me to come. I feel guilty. I am sure her feeling are hurt. I am a bad daughter for not visiting. I am a worse daughter for not wanting to visit. I am an even worse daughter than that for leading her on and then pretending nothing happened.
I still haven’t been blogging like I ought to. I haven’t been doing my Healthy Goals for a few weeks now. I am making a new list for them though! I am not finished cleaning the house. I am actually not finished cleaning the kids rooms. The teenager’s is done, four 30 gallon bags of papers and broken toys and candy wrappers and general crap and trash. Three 30 gallon bags of toys for donating to charity and one 30 gallon bag of toys to pass on to the little kids when they get home. I have done maybe half of my younger son’s room. And only about 10% of my daughter’s room. I hate doing this. It is no fun and it sucks. I do hope to finish before they get back though.
More blogging tomorrow. I hope!