Mom Dynamics

I’ve talked a lot about my mom on this blog because she’s so high maintenance. I’ll never figure her out as long as I live. She’s very intelligent, yet incredibly insecure. And self centered. And selfish. And she outwardly, blatantly favors men over women even in her own family (except her husband, she never favors him).

When my daughter and I get together, or when my sister and I talk, we all have to say, “Hang on. I have to get this off my chest first…” and we go on to tell the latest mom stories. They are always cringeworthy. But we have to tell them to other people who understand.

Once mom’s in her recliner for the afternoon or evening with one or two dogs on her lap, nothing gets her up again unless she has to go to the bathroom or is ready for bed. This means an entire night of me hearing her ask my dad to bring her this and bring her that. And my dad (the one with COPD) gets up, groans due to his bad knees and hips, and hobbles to the cupboard or refrigerator to get whatever she asked for. And it goes on a dozen times an evening.

When she cooks and puts dinner on the table she screams to him that dinner is ready even though he’s not even ten yards away. If he doesn’t get up immediately, she screams even louder and throws in a cuss word. Yet when I cook something and call her to the table she seems to purposefully putter around and let her food get cold. But I say nothing. I thought she was the one who taught me not to yell in the house.

But she also talks with her mouth full and I thought she taught me not to do that as well.

Her horrible passive aggressive way of asking him what he wants to drink (it’s always water) or how many pieces of bread he wants (give him one, he doesn’t need two), and then she truly believes this is her way of showing how much she loves him. Trust me, he does not see it that way. He’d rather have a peanut butter sandwich and some peace.

I tried to tell her once about the British sitcom “Keeping Up Appearances.” I told her the “lady of the house” Hyacinth Bucket (she pronounces it “bouquet”) is like her but on steroids. Hyacinth takes the cookies out of the tin, puts them on a plate, and then before you can take one she’s putting it back in the tin, putting the tin away, and washing the plate. Mom said she has no desire to watch it. Hah. I wonder why.

I’ve tried, really gently but directly, on a couple of occasions to get through to her, to ask her to lighten up and stop being so sensitive. She smiled and nodded and looked as though she had no idea what I was referring to. We all walk around on eggshells around her.

But it’s her selfishness with money that irks me the most because somehow she’s decided that only the things she wants need to be purchased and anything my dad wants has to wait. Dad had the gardener out this weekend, something he only does a few times a year. But it’s been a mild winter and the grass and weeds are growing earlier than they normally do. They’ve got a house inspection coming up because mom wants to refinance the house. That’s why they just spent several grand on their kitchen.

The gardener missed a section of weeding and at dinner last night mom tells dad he’ll have to do it. I said, “I’ll do it when it’s not raining. I don’t want dad doing something that strenuous.” She’s fucking clueless — can’t she hear him gasping for breath!? Him, bending over picking weeks? Are you fucking joking? WHAT. IS. WRONG. WITH. YOU?

A few weeks ago, when I  knew this money would finally be coming to me I told them that I was going to give my daughter $4,000 and hoped to give them $2,000. Immediately my dad said, “No, no, no…” And my mom grabbed his arm and said, “Let her do what she wants.” I said, we’d talk about it later when the money came, but that I was going to give them some.

That was the entire conversation we had about the money. And I haven’t given them any yet because the check clears tomorrow. But a few days ago mom says to me, “I’ve been meaning to thank you so much for that money, honey. It’s really going to help us.”

I was dumbfounded. Mainly because I had really hoped to give them $1,000 each so that dad could have some input on how it was spent. But no, it’s already spent. And I just found it so tacky considering I hadn’t given it to them yet. It left a bad taste in my mouth. It felt like she was locking me in to the $2,000. It took away the joy of being able to give it to them. Very tacky.

When my dad talks about calling the gardener, my mom will say, “You’ll have to wait until next week because we’re broke. And then she’ll meet her friend for lunch and come home with two blouses and a pair of pants from J. Jill. Have you shopped at J. Jill? Even with a really, really good sale, you can’t leave J. Jill with three items for under $150.

Today dad said to me, “We go to the mall to walk five or six times a week. Every single time we sit and buy a cappuccino, a mocha, and a pastry and we spend $9.00. You know how much that is per month?” I nodded. He continued, “I’m going to tell mom no more of that, we can have coffee at home, then I can call the gardener and it will still save us money.” I said, “Yes, please do that.”

But here’s what my mom will do. For a few days she’ll suffer with no mocha at the mall but soon it will sneak back in. Meanwhile she’ll come up with more excuses why dad can’t call the gardener. It’s appalling. There really are no words for it. Why does he have no power in this relationship? What makes her think that’s fair?

She truly feels that no one is capable of doing anything right (except herself and my brother). She truly feels she must be in control at all times. My dad puts up with it more or less silently for weeks and weeks and then he’ll blow. And she’ll give him the silent treatment for a few days, and then it starts all over again.

Dad stopped asking to drive because mom would sit next to him and second guess his every move — gasping, and shrieking the whole way. Yet, my god, when I go somewhere with them, which is rare, I sit in the backseat in shock at how badly she drives. Constantly breaking really hard, constantly accelerating too fast. Turning in front of someone come right at us. Suddenly acting like an imbecile being unable to park. It’s mind boggling.

I know that by writing this stuff I’m not exactly “honoring my mother” as we are told to do. I will take care of her and see to her needs, but my god I can’t live alone with her, ever. She’s by far the most unhappy person I’ve ever known and it’s all because she’s decided to be that way. She hasn’t had particular hardships which would warrant such behavior. She doesn’t have to be mean or unhappy.

Oh no. I’m being punished for writing this stuff about her. She was just leaving for a signing and came back in and said her car battery was dead. I handed her my keys and told her to be careful, that my car drives much differently than hers does. Now I’m praying that she and the car come back unscathed. Shit.

Great, now dad and I have realized she left her phone in HER car and drove off in MY car. Shit.

I’ll be nervous until she comes home

Hours later. Well, she made it home but she was hours later than we expected. Dad and I were both really worried and about to call the police. He told her she should have called us from the house she was at to say she was on her way home. She said that never occurred to her.

Then she saw the mail including a letter from the IRS. Their large tax refund is on hold — that’s too bad because she’s already spent it. I’m not kidding, she has. My mom said to my dad in her optimistic way, “Well, now we won’t get any money back until August or later.” And dad said, “We shouldn’t have spent it before it got here.” And cue mom pouting for the rest of the night. I just offered her an Ativan — she’s thinking of taking it. Those pills are like gold to me, but if it’ll avoid a major melt down I’ll part with one.

Why can’t I find a job and get away from these all too frequent scenes? I don’t think we are supposed to know our parents this well.

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