Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tightrope walking

Arrggghhh...But, I'm getting better at it.
This morning we went over to my mother's house to say goodbye to my cousin, his wife and kids. They were here from Wisconsin to pick up Grandma and take her back for a two week visit. I am glad she is doing this. She is so healthy and spends so much time behaving as if she is frail. At 84, you'd be stunned at how well she moves. She was looking forward to it and I hope she doesn't cause too much trouble for them while she's there. It is, at times, like dealing with a 6 year old.

We took them out to lunch at Big Boys. Their oldest boy K. (11 and very close with James whenever they get a, a not so often, chance to see each other) always wants to go there when they come over because Wisconsin doesn't have Big Boys anymore. Last year, when we went for dinner, Leonard bought them all a Big Boy bank. This year, they had bobble heads for sale so I bought each of the kids one... It was sad, and yet funny, because their youngest son (also a K) brought us a twist tie and said,"I took it off so it wouldn't kill him... But keep it handy, just in case he attacks you." I swear, where do kids come up with the imaginative things that, so often, they blurt out?

Getting to the tightrope part. I spent most of yesterday and most of this early day with my mom and family. That should be nice, right? As I was leaving she said,"I'd invite you in, but I know you have plans." (insert huge sigh here) I was good about it, in part because I don't/can't care anymore. This afternoon was Nik's good friend's (like a daughter to me and I think I've mentioned her here before) graduation party. One, I told them I would bring wood. Two, I had asked my dad to come along to help me with the wood. The only thing I can think is that my mom must have driven by (a rather long drive just to see if my dad's car was over at my house, but something for her to do when she is itching to have a reason to believe I don't love her/love my dad more/am a poor excuse for a daughter) because she called on my cell phone some time this early evening. She did not leave a message. I noticed the call when I returned home. When I called her back I got the usual you-are-on-my-shit-list-now responses because I had been out with my dad. Short clippy, I hate you so much, type of answers. And, sadly, no I love you. So be it. I am a bad person for spending some time this Father's Day weekend with my Father. Sigh...

Suffice to say, I cannot walk the tightrope of trying to keep the terminally unhappy happy anymore. It's really too much and almost feels like a waste of a day and half spent with her. Moving far, far away seems so much more appealing.


Marshamlow said...

Wow that is awful. I hope your time at the graduation party was fun, bringing wood makes me thing there was a bonfire? Sounds fun.

BetteJo said...

Sometimes, unfortunately, there is something to be said for a little distance.

Donna said...

Distance, to me, is not the issue...It's the "issue" that's causing the "distance"....Just let her know you'll always love her but unless she "checks the Drama at the door", you've had enough...done. Don't think it's that simple? It is......done.
Love to you sweetie!! Hope your Dad has a Wonderful day!!! Don't shy away...Jump in today's celebration with Both feet!! She Needs to see you Won't back away from people you love just because She desires it....You're not a puppet! Laugh Great Big today sweetheart!! You!!hughugs

Ronni said...

What she said^^^

Kesha said...

There are some very wise and loving thoughts here Laura. All I can add is 'ditto'.

Much love to you and yours.

as always.


Nance said...

At some point, your life has to be about you. My husband had very controlling parents who used to "make him pay" for any imagined behavioral faux pas. He'd get the silent treatment or worse. Finally, we just had had enough. We made it clear that we were grownups with kids and our own family and that if they didn't like it, tough. It wasn't easy, but toxic people make life hell, and that is always worse.

Funnily enough, my husband adopted an old Stuart Smalley mantra from his parody self-help book: "I didn't cause it, I can't cure it, and I can't control it." It helped to remember that.

J at said...

HA! Any set of comments that quotes Stuart Smalley is good. I agree with what has been said here. Tell her you love her, but you can't be with her when she behaves this way. It's not an easy thing to say, but I think if you can do it, and stick to it, your life will be better for it. And who knows, in time, your relationship with her may even improve.

Cristina Mathers said...

nope, you sure can't. my mil is one of those terminally unhappy people and it's been her downfall for the past 20 year if not her whole life. my own mom falls into that category now and then too and i just ignore it. it's much harder on them than it is on us. it takes a lot more energy to be mad/sad/bitter than it does to at least try to be happy.

good for you for not putting too much stock into it.

Rach said...

You know, there's that old Ricky Nelson song, "Garden Party" which says it pretty well, "You can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself."

Laura, Honey, you worry about you and taking care of you and James and Nik. Really, those are the most important things in your life.


Courtney said...

All I can say is ditto to all these comments. You are doing great!

Linda said...

What a not very painful reminder of my own mother...My mother chose to be a bitter, unhappy woman and spent the last 20 years of her life trying to bring every one down with her.It didn't work-we are still standing!!! Fortunately she moved to the mid west and I learned to not answer her calls. Never once did I look back at my decision to keep her out of my life. She's been gone for 5 years now, and I haven't felt anything but utter relief, mostly relief for her, but certainly some for my self too!

Big hugs, Laura! (geez I'm glad I read this before I posted, it did say Big jugs...yikes!!)

Jess said...

Laura -
Just wanted to drop a note and tell you I'm thinking of you. I know yesterday had to be a difficult day for you all.
Hope today is a good one...

haylee said...

Hi Laura:

I haven't posted in the last few months as my fibromyalgia & chronic fatigue syndrome keep me pretty much bed bound. Even going to the bathroom leaves me totally spent. A cold shower (I can't stand the heat despite the screaming muscles) is a huge production.

I wanted to write to say that you need to take whatever measures necessary to take your mother's toxic powers away.

My Mom is the same age as your grandma (84) but that is where the similarities end. Mom flew over last week (including 2 flight changes) so she could "help us out". She loves to keep the kitchen clean & tidy and fold & put away the laundry. She is an amazing lady and we am so blessed to have her in our lives. It was 40 years on May 22nd since she was widowed with 6 youngsters. Throughout our lives, her singular goal has been to help us every way possible. Her mother before her was the very same. That's what Mom's do. I am sorry your mom didn't get the memo.

Sorry if this sounds harsh but it speaks volumes of her that she would get in a snit because you spend time with your Dad. Given the circumstances, she should be pleased not p*ssed. She is definately running her own agenda and wants you to march blindly & obediently.

Well, guess what? It ain't all about her!

As always, I wish you peace.


Courtney said...

Hey I tagged you if you are interested in playing along.

Shari said...

Sorry about my absence. more school for me means no excuse to spend extra time on the computer. I'm getting some flack about that, too. Sigh.

I often think of this...if you don't have anything good to say, then don't say anything at all...or something like that. I'm sorry your mom is the way she is.

Sending good thoughts your way. HUGS.

desperate housewife said...

I can only agree with all the commenters above me; a lot of wisdom here. Your kids and yourself MUST come first. Trying to be responsible for another adult's happiness when they are determined to find things to be bitter about is a losing battle and a self destructive one. Your mom sounds like a drowning person pulling other people down with her. Sometimes you just have to swim away and save yourself.

Laurie said...

I agree with every comment above me here. And this tightrope is one rope that I won't be tying any knots in for you. This one needs to be cut for your own peace of mind. Some people put up such WALLS that even a bomb cannot penetrate. It is just too bad that it has to be your mother. I say, let her build her walls and someday she will have to come out to see what's going on. You can love her from a distance. Keep being good to yourself Laura, and remove yourself from the shit-list. I am sure your dad had a great weekend with you.

Laurie in Ca.