Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to You, Too!

There are times when life is too ironic for me to handle. 

Take today, for instance. Being a good, dutiful daughter, I called my mom to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. After a few minutes and some questions about her health, we proceeded to have an argument, wherein she said that she would never be able to live with us.

Somehow the fabric of space/time had warped and we had jumped from, 

"Hi. How are you doing?" 


"I never feel welcome in your home."

all in the span of three minutes.

Yeah...well...Happy Mother's Day to you, too!

Don't feel too sorry for me.  I'm used to this kind of emotional irrationality when it comes to navigating the relationship with my mother.  It's highly frustrating.  It's annoying.  It can come from left field......but it's not personal.

She does it to everyone.

An overdeveloped sense of victimization and easily hurt feelings combines with a passive aggressive tendency to not let people know how deeply she's offended, while simultaneously holding on to petty grudges with no basis in reality.

It's a perfect storm of  you-just-can't-win.

It turns out that she was upset about something my husband said 9 years ago.  NINE....YEARS!

What was the awful, horrible thing he did?

Well, after I passed out in an emergency room, having a seizure in my 7th month of pregnancy leading to an emergency c-section and The Rationalist being in the NICU for three weeks after being born at the low weight of 3.5 husband suggested that she not go up to say good night to me that first night because I needed my rest.

Horror of horrors! What an unfeeling brute!

Never mind the fact that I was completely unconscious for the first day and half after that experience and have absolutely no memory of those first couple of days.  Never mind the fact that my husband just watched his wife go through a life-threatening episode and had seen his son shipped off to a hospital thirty miles away after being born 7 weeks premature.  Never mind that it was a life or death situation.

No. The most important thing my husband was supposed to do was to worry about my mother's feelings and whether or not she had taken something he had said as a slight. Right?!

From my mother's perspective, DH should have known how it would make her feel.. He should have stopped to think about what she(!?) was going through. 

Me: "So did you talk to DH about why you wanted to say good-bye?  That you were worried about me?"

Mom: "No. He told me to go."

Me:"Whoa...before you said that he told you it might not be a good idea because I needed to rest."

Mom: "Well..I knew what he meant."

Me: "Did it ever occur to you that this was a crisis situation? Did it ever occur to you that maybe if you had taken a moment to explain that you were worried I wouldn't make it and wanted to be sure to see me..that he would have re-considered his suggestion that you wait until the next day to see me?"

Mom: "NO.  He should have known."

This is the point where my head explodes into a million pieces.

What makes all of this even more exasperating is the fact that my mother's health is declining. I have had a very bad feeling the last few months when I have spoken to her. My intuition is telling me that something is very wrong with her and she is in complete denial.  Having lost her insurance about 6 months ago, she won't go to get an ultrasound she needs because she can't afford it.

I know that there are probably ways to get the care she needs at a discounted cost, or maybe even free considering her financial situation, but I am 1,000 miles away.  She needs someone to go with her and be an advocate for her.  

My brothers, while not uncaring, aren't understanding the full scope of the situation she's in. I'm not sure if she is sharing everything with them, or when she does, if they are putting 2 and 2 together.

I'm in the position of being the one who knows my mother best, and seeing through all her charades, and yet being unable to help her because of distance...and now apparently because of some twisted up reaction that she's held onto for a long time.

In the same conversation she goes on about how she couldn't live with one of my brothers because of reason X, and she couldn't live with one of my other brothers for reason Y.  She is building a wall around herself and setting her feet on a path of self-destruction...all based on feelings which are disproportionate to reality.  Situations call for a reaction level of 3 and she responds with a 9.

After an hour of me trying to get her to be reasonable and give people the benefit of the doubt, after a marathon of reassurances that we love her and want to help her, and after a reminder of how many times she has offended people and been granted forgiveness and understanding(many, many times)...we left the conversation on good terms.

I told her I loved her and that we are here to help, when and if she needs it.

Why do things have to be so complicated?

It would have been so nice to call and have a happy chat and some good wishes.


I really wasn't planning on testing the limits of my unconditional, Christian love today.

God must think I need to work on it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Terri,

I was browsing for inspiration, on a talk I have to do on "the Tares and the Wheat" at Church, when I stumbled upon your blog; it drew me in.

I think you are right when you say your mum feels something is wrong and this may be causing her to reflect on many things. Sometimes when we feel bad about things we did - or should have did and never - we tend to project it out and blame someone else. I think your mum may be looking back on times she feels that she should have been there for you and wasn't.

It would be quite natural to look at ways of putting this onto someone else i.e. your husband. Perhaps she is exploring ways in which she can try to make up for what "she feels" she has missed out on, before it is too late.

Perhaps, and it's only my humble opinion, you could help her by continually reminding her about all the good things she has done for you and the rest of the family - even if you find this difficult to do you may be surprised at the results.

I hope things go well for you and your family.

Rev. Jack,
From Scotland

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Rev Jack must be a wonderful guy. His psychology, however, is pure 1980's. It's a nice thought. Unlikely to have much connection to reality, however.