Last Thursday my mom and step-dad came for their first visit since Little Man was born. I was excited for the kids to see them and I thought that it started out well. We went to a zoo-type place on Friday where Sweet One had an amazing time and then on Saturday my mom and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing the brunch that would follow Little Man's baptism. Sweet One absolutely loved having her here and I loved watching them together. I will especially remember how much Sweet One loved to walk hand in hand with my mom. But then it all suddenly went to shit. I didn't even realize what was happening. One of those moments where it is almost impossible to grasp what is really going on.
Let me set the scene with a little back story. My kitchen sucks. It is small and the space is poorly designed. Very little counter space to do anything. My mom made many comments about how difficult it is to work in my kitchen on Saturday and I agreed because we were working. I often complain to myself or Big Love while I'm working in there. On Sunday there were a total of 10 adults and 4 kids eating brunch and we pulled it off nicely. In the evening I was looking forward to some relaxing after such a busy day but my mom seemed to want to spend more time consumed by how shitty my kitchen is and what she would do to fix it. I asked her to stop. It wasn't only this visit that she has told me over and over how bad my kitchen is and I just wanted a break for a bit. I was tired. It had been a long day. She went off her rocker! Suddenly saying, "you have to let me be me" and a myriad of other things that made absolutely no sense. The more I desperately tried to get her to listen to what I was saying, the more she pursed her lips and stiffened her face. I wanted to scream, "wake the fuck up! I am not trying to criticize! You are putting words in my mouth!" but as my sister later told me, there is no point. She's in a point in her life where she is wrapped up so tightly in her own things that she doesn't hear what people are saying and it's annoying. There is nothing we can do about it.
Monday morning she came to me and said that she and my step-dad were thinking of leaving early "because we haven't seen much of [the area just north of the US border]. You're so busy with the two kids and I think we're wearing out our welcome." I was sick to my stomach. As if all the struggles in our relationship are solely my fault! (As my sister also told me, my mom acts as if she never does anything wrong.) They did end up staying for one more day but after that you could cut the tension with a knife. I couldn't say anything without her reacting negatively. When they left the next morning, my step-dad said good-bye to everyone but me and pretty much ran out the door as fast as he could.
I sometimes wonder if we put too much expectation on these visits. With such a huge distance of space between us, it's as if we want a perfect time together to make up for how little time we spend together and how much money we have to invest in order to see each other.
Unfortunately, I think I need to lower my expectations. Both for these visits (if there are anymore!) and my relationship with my mom. I wish she was my 'go to' person but if I am honest with myself, she really hasn't been for many years. It is obvious to me that at this point in our lives we are not going to meet in the middle any time soon. My sister also struggles with my mom's deaf ears and so it is not just me being targeted and this helps me feel a little better.
I can not change her, I can only change myself. I will learn to let go. But the disappointment this realization brings is hard.
"Oh, Mother. I loved her at that moment, but what a motherlode she is."(Today I put together a tumbling composter that my step-dad had bought me while he was here. Shortly after it was done I began to fill it with compost and about 5 minutes later it broke. I can almost guarantee you that my mom is thinking it is a symbol of our visit! "Because everything is a symbol to her.")
Remembering the Bones, Frances Itani