Thursday, July 10, 2014
My parents are going to be here tomorrow for dinner. My mother has not set foot in my house in six years, and hasn't spent the night in my home in about 10 years. (They are not staying with us, though). My back has been hurting so I haven't worked the past couple days. I need to work on cleaning my house. My mom hasn't been to my house for a couple of "reasons." She says the drive is too far for her back. We have cats, and she's allergic to them. Also, although she's never said this, part of the reason she doesn't visit is because my house is disgusting (to her). She has honest-to-goodness OCD when it comes to many things, especially cleaning. The last time she stayed the night at my house (a decade ago) she didn't want to sit on my couch so she put a sheet over it. Then she spent THREE HOURS cleaning my kitchen, saying it was giving her the "heebee jeebies." On what planet is this ok? Or normal? I would like to stress that out of every single person I know (except her, of course), I have the cleanest house out of everyone. Everyone says so. I'm teased about how clean and tidy my home is. But my mother thinks it is gross.
She's been telling me for years that she's changed...that she doesn't get upset about that sort of thing like she used to. She says, she's "a very different person now." Whatever. Her house is exactly the same as it's always been, and so is she. When her laundry sits in the dryer for a while, I'll believe it. When she quits washing her dishes before she washes her dishes, I'll believe it. Dad said that after Daughter and I left their apartment the last time, she went into that bathroom and scrubbed it for about 2 hours (because we're so filthy? I'd been there ONE night). Even at it's worst, when I go a month without cleaning my bathroom, it only takes me an hour at the most...and that's with me having to scrub the heck out of the shower walls, etc, to get those orange hard water stains off the tub/shower walls.
All I've ever heard from her is that she can't come because of our cats...how violently allergic she is to the cats...how she can't even be around cats for a few minutes...etc. My cats are indoor-outdoor cats. Obviously I'm going to put the cats outside and put the dogs down in their yard before they get here. Then I'll clean the house really well and keep the animals outside while they are here. (They're only coming for dinner tomorrow night). I'm just really not looking forward to this. I want my mom to WANT to be here...but she doesn't really WANT to be here. She's only coming to shut me up, because a few weeks ago I really put up a stink about her not ever visiting...about her not actually wanting to visit.
So she's coming tomorrow. She hasn't said one single word to me about it. She hasn't told me she is excited to come. She hasn't said anything like, "I'm looking forward to seeing you..." nothing like that. In fact, she's been doing that thing where she's not talking to me at all. I tried calling them a couple of times within the past couple weeks. Both times I tried calling, they were on their way out the door. Did she call me back? No. Has she emailed or called to say one single word about coming on Friday? Nope. Who freaking does that? As someone with such impeccable "manners," you'd think she would have sent me some kind of pretentious email by now, saying something like "I so look forward to seeing you."
That's the kind of crap she does. But apparently she only does it when she means it.
About three years ago, I asked her if they would be coming to an Academic Awards ceremony, where I was getting a certificate. I knew her email password, so I looked at her email to see if she'd gotten the message. I did find a sent message, from her to my dad, stating, "She wants us to go to that awards ceremony. I told her we couldn't go, but now she is hurt and asking for an explanation. Please tell me you have something to do that day. I hate graduations so much that I didn't even attend my own."
Yeah. My mom actually said that.
Fast forward a year or so, when I'm actually graduating. They came, but she made sure to tell me more than once that the drive up really hurt her back, then sitting in the chair at the awards ceremony, etc. Granted, I'm sure it did. I know it did. I'm truly sorry about that.
But you can't keep that to yourself? Why do you always have to make me feel guilty? Why do you insist on making me feel bad about myself?
I swear, I think part of the reason I'm never satisfied with who I am and what I'm doing in my life is because of HER...because SHE has never really been satisfied with who I am or what I'm doing in my life. She is the same way about herself, too. But geez. I'm that way, and I like my daughter exactly the way she is. I don't wish certain things about her were different. And I DAMN SURE wouldn't ever tell her that I wanted her to be a different way.
When my mom was little, her parents were very distant, very ugly to her. She was not a loved, precious little child. She was a maid, a babysitter. Her father even did some unspeakable things to her...and every time I think about what a crappy childhood she had, I feel so bad for ever thinking anything negative about her, or for grumbling about her parenting. I know in my heart she did her best. I try so hard to be sensitive and compassionate, and I do feel like I am. But I have my own issues too, and I can't deny them...even in spite of other people's unfortunate pasts or best efforts. My issues are the result of hers, and to deny one would be to deny the other...and I can't do that. I don't feel like I will ever really heal if I do that.
I was a very scrawny, skinny kid. I had stick-straight, thin brown hair that did nothing. It was always cut like a boys. I never, ever felt feminine or pretty. My mother did nothing to change this. In fact, at times it seemed like she was intentionally trying to point it out. We used to like to watch the "Sound of Music." She always liked that youngest Von Trapp girl, Gretel. She said, "I always wanted to have a chubby little baby with blond hair like that. I got a skinny baby with straight brown hair." She didn't say it in a mean way. She smiled. She LOOKED happy while she was saying it...but as a kid, all I heard was, "You don't look the way I wanted my child to look." Especially given the comments her parents would make about her, you'd think she would be more sensitive to my feelings about my own appearance. I mean, my mother said things to me about how I looked, and I'm not being ugly to my daughter. I genuinely think she is gorgeous, and I tell her that almost daily. She is beautiful inside and out, and I want her to always feel that way.
Sometimes, we'd see a little girl about my age. The little girl would have gorgeous, long blond hair. She'd have a bow in her hair, and a pretty dress. Yes, she'd be very cute. My mom would see her and say, "Oh, look how CUTE she is! Isn't she a BEAUTIFUL little girl!" She'd poke me and point at the little girl and say to me, "Isn't she DARLING? LOOK at her!"
Yeah, mom. You're right. That is the most stunningly attractive little girl either of us have ever seen. Lucky me. I'm only seven years old and I'm looking at the most beautiful little girl you've ever seen. Thanks so much for pointing her out to me. Thank you for finding so much beauty in a person who is the COMPLETE opposite of me, and thank you for making sure I notice it. Thank you for making sure I (and everyone else in the room) hears your compliments. This isn't at all uncomfortable for me.
We were watching tv once, and a kid called his mom, "Mother." My mom sighed, looked longingly off into the distance, and said wistfully, "...I wish you'd call me, 'Mother.' I just love that."
What's wrong with "Mama?"
I mean...bringing all this up is breaking my heart. It's not even 9am yet. It's too early for all this. She's just never made me feel like I was good enough, just the way I was/am.
And I wonder why I never feel good enough about myself. I wish I could accept myself better, for who I am. Of course I can work on things. I can (and should) want to make improvements. I should have various goals...personal, financial goals, etc. But that doesn't mean I'm not ok just the way I am.
I don't know what else to say right now, so I guess I'll wrap this up. I may add to it later on.
Member Comments About This Blog Post
ugh sounds like my MIL!
They are super ocd and always make comments about my cooking, etc behind my back. Sometimes right in front of me because they speak in spanish (I understand 95% Spanish so I know what they're saying right in front of my face)
Hope things all work out!
960 days ago
Thanks so much for the support.
I suggested repeatedly that we could meet at a restaurant, but it fell on deaf ears. My dad said over and over that they want to "visit with us at home," and just "sit and relax on our deck and just visit." I keep bringing up what she's told me for YEARS about how deathly allergic she is to cats. It just seems so weird that they insist on being here. Essentially, I feel like this is the one and only time my mother will come here. I know in my heart she is only doing it to prove something to me, and to shut me up. I know she's not looking forward to it any more than I am. My poor dad, though. He absolutely LOVES to be here in my home. He visits us all the time (without her, of course). He is so excited to be coming, and I know he's glad to bring my mom with him, because the last few times he's visited, we've talked about how much it sucks that Mom never wants to visit. I know he feels like he's doing some great thing by bringing Mom up here, and I love him for that. He wants me to be happy that my mom will finally be here, and he wants Mom to experience what he does when he's up visiting us. But I know neither she nor I really want this. I want my mom to WANT to visit...and since I know she doesn't really WANT to, just the whole thought of her coming makes me literally sick to my stomach.
But you're both right. They are her issues, not mine. Her issues are not a reflection of me, or of anything I have done. My husband has often told me many of the same things you both have. It's just a hard thing to wrap my head around. I mean...I get it. I understand it. My head accepts it. My heart just can't seem to accept it.
960 days ago
Your Mom grew up in a dysfunctional family and never bothered to overcome that. So..the cycle continued. But, THAT IS YOUR MOM THAT IS DYSFUNCTIONAL - NOT YOU. Would it help your stress if you just meet your parents at a restaurant? That way you don't have to run around trying to get your house to her standard of "perfect": something that is very unrealistic. As far as her back: hey, I've had 3 back surgeries and I'm on disability. I don't want to give up doing the things that I enjoy. I wear a back brace when necessary, bring pillows to sit on, and bear it when it comes to being with my family. Again, you don't have a problem You are a great person. Give your mom's problem back to her and let her deal with it.
960 days ago
I can so relate to this. My mother was cold and disapproving towards me her entire life. I assume you're fairly young. Well I'm 63, and I can tell you that it never changed. What changed was that I finally accepted that there was nothing I could say or do to make her act/feel differently, and I stopped trying. I learned to emotionally distance myself from her and stop caring what she thought of me. But this took many years, and in it also helped when I moved farther away. And like you I raised a daughter who I have a warm and loving relationship with.
I maintained a superficially cordial relationship with the woman for the sake of my daughter and siblings, but sad to say, when she died a few years ago at age 91, I felt nothing. I had been so successful at emotionally distancing myself that there was nothing left.
I'm not saying your story has to end this way, but I guess what I'm saying is, don't let her run the rest of your life. Don't tie yourself up in knots trying to get a different response out of her. These are just the cards you've been dealt. Yes, it started you off in life with a feeling that you're not good enough, and that's always going to be a challenge for you. But you can move on.
960 days ago
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