Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mom (172.0)

Yesterday's therapy appointment was all about Mom.  About me being a Mom to Sophie, and about my relationship with my mom.

Sophie has asked that I not share personal information about her with anyone--not even on my blog.  She is a very private girl, and I respect that.  So I won't write about specifics, but let me say that parenting my 10 1/2 year old daughter is much harder than it used to be. 

So onto my mom.  We have almost all talked on our blogs in one form or another about our mothers.  Mostly about how their parenting (or lack thereof) caused such an impact on our lives in the present tense.  Some of Us have worked through our issues; some of Us are in the middle of working through them; some of Us are no doubt terrified of even going near them.

Julie & I talked yesterday about a recent experience with my mom.  To make a long story short, I needed to pick up the kids earlier on Saturday morning (they spent the night Friday) than she wanted me to, and even though she had known since Thursday of the earlier pick up time (10:30 am), she still sighed and sighed and wore her disappointment like a cloak when I came to get them. 

Julie asked me to describe Mom as if I were an outsider and had no knowledge of her other than what I observed.  What would that look like?  I finally described what she looked like Satuday morning--like a very giving grandmother, who has 8 grandkids to take care of at one time, who is selfless and frazzled. 

"Selfless" was a big warning word for Julie.  Selfless does not mean someone who gives generously out of abundance.  Selfless implies no sense of self. 

My mom loves having my kids and my niece to visit.  She also loves her husband's grand kids (set of twins, boy & girl, almost 4; and three kids, boy-7, girl-4, girl-2) and for the most part they are very good kids.  But no matter how good kids that age are, 8 kids at one time is a lot of work. 

Mom's husband is a super granddad.  But he's a lousy communicator, and he doesn't let Mom have a choice as to when his grandkids are there.  He will even ask to have them come over and then leave the house to go work in his building for hours, leaving mom with all the kids.  She has either tried to talk to him about this and he won't listen, or she knows it's a moot point because he does what he wants, regardless, and she doesn't bother to bring it up anymore.

I talked about this with her at the first of the year.  I gave her marriage advice.  It was weird.  It was one of those things I was "attached" to that I have let go.  She's a grown up, it's her marriage, I am staying out of it.

So my mom's sense of self comes from taking care of kids/other people and she also feels like she often has no choice in the matter.  A perfect storm to create a martyr.

I told Julie that when I was up against Mom's sighs and frustrated "you're here already?  you have to go already?" that I didn't get angry.  I was very calm, said we'd talked about it already, and I had 20 minutes before we had to leave.  She was huffy almost the entire time I was there.  I didn't get mad; I actually saw her with different eyes.  I didn't like what I saw, but I wasn't angry as hell over it.

She looks and acts unhappy most of the time I am around her.  Most of the time I am around her, she is caring for a posse of children.

Julie said this is where there's a problem in our relationship.  If I want to heal this rift between me and my mom, I have to spend time with her outside of these situations.  I need to have one on one adult time with her. I need to build a relationship with her separate from my kids. 

I also asked Julie how to handle these types of situations, when Mom throws out the martyr attitude. She said just how I handled it.  I can model setting boundaries and not letting her negativity control my actions.  I can set my own schedule with my kids and not let her selflessness cause problems for me.

The idea of spending time with my mom is not a comfortable one.  I still have this wall clearly set up between us.  Yes, I feel like the anger is (mostly) gone, but I haven't moved any further than that. 

Part of the issue is that my mom's quirks get under my skin.  I was an English/Lit major in college; grammar errors in speech and writing drive me positively insane.  My mom's grammar is horrible.  There is no reason to correct her; she has and will always speak like this.  My mom also is usually indecisive.  She is passive aggressive.  She is controlling.  She is emotionally immature and unaware.

Yes, I see a lot of myself in my mom (other than the grammar thing).  It's tempered somewhat because I am NOT my mom.  But don't we dislike in others what we most dislike about ourselves? 

I'm faced with the next step of asking my mom on a date, either to lunch or to get a pedicure together.  I know I need to, but I don't wanna.  We have nothing in common.  It's not like she can be my "girlfriend." 

Understand, also, that no one else but my sister and me would describe Mom like this.  She's very pretty, she's generous, she's nice, she's kind, she's thoughtful, she'd do anything for her family and friends, she's reliable, she's a person of faith (which only happened after she divorced my dad; she did not go to church when I was growing up).

I write about all this because I need to process it.  I am going to take the next step, and I'm sure it won't be as bad as all the scenarios I play out in my head (like me breaking into tears and spilling my "black box" issues, or me getting angry at her for something so small she'll think I'm a total bitch--which I often have been around her).  It could simply be a gesture to Honor My Mother, which is a commandment that I'm currently breaking.

Saturday we have two pool parties--one at my sister's and one at Mark's cousin's house.  My sister has a new pool, and this is her first pool party.  Mark's cousin has an annual gathering that we always go to.  We have to do both.  Mom will be ticked off that we will only be at my sister's for a few hours and not all day.  I'll listen to her sighs, I'll not get mad, and I'll try not to let it bother me.  

I'll be talking to her soon, just the two of us.  I hope it's okay.


Laura N said...

On the weight loss front, I have lost almost 15 pounds since my high weight in April. I have been eating whole foods for almost 2 months (since June 25). I can't tell you how much of a difference this is making in my life! It's not just about the weight. It's about not feeling like a slave to food and not being obsessed with what I'm going to eat next. I eat very simply. I am rarely hungry. I am satisfied and happy with what I'm eating.

I know that the mood stabilizer I'm on has a great deal to do with how "even" I've been feeling lately (thank God the mood swings are GONE). But I was feeling "even" that Sunday I decided to eat carbs and junk, and the sugar threw me right back into "can't get enough" mode. It took a couple of days of whole food eating to get back to feeling (my new) normal again.

I haven't been exercising much. I'm still not feelig great. Now it's allergies, I think, and PMS. I did do the Yoga DVD last night (did nothing workout-wise all weekend, but I did clean like a maniac and got the house spotless, so I wasn't just lying around doing nothing). I felt much better after the DVD last night, although I was worn out. I'm going to do something tonight when I get home from work, first thing. That's the key, I guess--do it right away and don't do anything else until it's done.

The additional weight loss is mostly due to not having a carb at dinner (which lately has been light--a protein and veggie or a veggie with hummus), having my yogurt and fruit during the day instead of at bedtime, and cutting way back on dairy (I think anyway). My nighttime routine lately has been to have a decaf soy latte with some cashews. It works. It's soothing, I feel satisfied and don't crave anything else.

The food is working. I'm thrilled.

Vickie said...

your mom first - consider asking her to something like a play, a speaker, a comedy thing, something where there is 'entertainment' and then you can talk about THAT on the way home.

Not suggesting you say this to her, but if I were her, I would walk out the door everytime he walked in the door with the kids when it wasn't agreed to by me (so he couldn't leave) OR the minute he left me stuck with them I would call their parents to come get them.

everything you talked about in your comment (above) is something that one just has to experience to really GET. I think until someone does it, holds it long enough to see the benefits, they think it is the other person and not them. So, someone would read you or I or Jane or others and think we are unique and not understand that all of us were exactly in the other place not so long ago. . .everyone thinks we are all so different, and as you have heard me say, I don't think most of us are different. I think the foods tweek a little bit one way or the other, but in general, we all fall in the same general guidelines.

jen said...

I came here to post something similar to Vickie -- maybe you could take a crafts class together or something similar. Play to your mom's strengths so you can see her at her best. Lunch could be awkward since you say your mom is weight-obsessed.

Jill said...

I often find myself looking for ways to be different from my mom. Many times I'll catch myself thinking "my mom would NEVER do this". Be it eating at a restaurant alone or taking a Zumba class, I like doing things that would be WAY out of her comfort range.
Not sure what that says about me, but that's what I do.

Good job on the weight loss! I'm so glad the food is working for you and you are feeling better! :)

Vickie said...

do think Sophie's request for privacy comes from a place of



is it from a sense of embarrassment or the need to have things perfect and if they are not perfect, to have no one know?

Vickie said...

and where were you discussing it that this even came up with her? friends? church ladies? your mom or sister?

what I am asking isn't so much about her as it is you I guess (so you can talk about it).

this comes up a lot at our house because there are a lot of extended kids. And honestly, here, everyone knows each other's business with grace and ability to keep their mouth shut and listen.

my kids all read my brother and my texts with his family situation. I want them to KNOW so if their cousins say something to them, they know the background and they know what to reinforce and what to not reinforce.

the kids learn a ton from what each of the others goes through.

but as I sit here and think - I would not call any of this personal information. maybe my standard for personal is different from others. but at this house, making it all about learning and preparing everyone else for future takes some level of the personalness off and makes it topics/opportunities.

Laura N said...

For Sophie's issues, it's mostly embarrasment about her health issues. A year or so ago, she saw an email I sent to a group of our church friends asking for prayers for a health issue Sophie had that I was concerned about. It turned out to be nothing, but she was terribly embarrased because it involved a bodily function. I explained why I shared her info, but it embarrassed her and I agreed to keep her privacy from then on.

Then this year I was writing something on my blog about her ADHD or a fight she & I had (I can't remember what it was exactly), and she read it over my shoulder as I was typing, and she got very upset and said "I thought you weren't talking about me to anyone anymore." So it became a trust issue for her. Even though I explained that my blog is my safe place where I share almost everything about my life, and almost no one in real life reads this, she still didn't want her stuff shared.

I promised to not share her issues with anyone--whether physical or mental or social--unless I asked & she approved of me sharing. That includes good news or bad news. Anything private about her I don't write about or tell anyone else (except Mark--we talk about everything--unless Sophie specifically asks me not to tell her Dad, and she talks to him about almost everything, too). She is old enough now she can share her personal information if she chooses.