Friday, March 9, 2012

Dealing With the Parentals

In response to my sister's post, I'd like to take a moment and discuss the problems of dealing with family. Francesca, this is obviously not about dealing with parents at the age your boys are, but rather navigating adult relationships when neither the parent nor the child are quite sure how to manage them. My mother brings out the 13-year-old in me every time.

For one, I'd like to say that neither my sis nor Myriad (her friend) are planning a wedding -- holy cow are there a lot of "requirements" that get blown out of the water. And although it's neither here nor there, Mister is not the kind of person who gives a flying f*ck about traditions that mean nothing to him. If it's not worth it, he's not going to do it -- no matter if it keeps the peace, perhaps ESPECIALLY if it keeps the peace because then he's "sacrificing principles" blah blah. K, you can imagine how well this goes with Mom if you haven't seen it in action any time recently.

So that's my one special parental problem, but I'm dealing with a few of the others as well. For one, I get a lot of the "if only you lived closer, we could see each other more" speech a lot. It got to the point a while back that I brought it up to Mister as a solution to stopping that complaint. His response? "She'd find something else to complain about." Since that's true, I've gone back to ignoring the "move closer" plaint.

I don't have to deal with any weight complaint issues, since she probably thinks I'm healthy -- I certainly look it enough, but I think I've got a ways to go in the exercise and stamina department. Mister made me take off the punching bag from the registry but I want one OH SO BAD. I just like to punch things. Super awesome stress relief. Also, one of the best runs I've ever had in my life was when I was so frustrated with something and had so much pent-up adrenaline I literally ran about a mile in 5 minutes. Just flat out. My mood went back to normal and I felt fabulous.

I think the one thing that bugs me the most in my dealings with Mom are her attempts to coach me in my relationship. I'm sorry Mom, but you have the most dysfunctional relationship I've ever seen, and you veer pretty close to man-hating. Have I mentioned the time that she told me that it was ok I didn't have a job -- I could just live off of Mister? Because, y'know, he's a man and he should expect to do that. (With the further implication that any money I make is mine, but his is OURS.) Just the sheer number of times she's tried to be all "Look, can I say this and you not tell Mister?" or "Can I say something and you won't get mad at me?" How I've dealt with this is by listening calmly, and explaining how I feel that our relationship differs from what she thinks. This is not to say that our relationship is perfect, but I feel that Mom has a particularly skewed view of it. For one, my mom seems to feel it's better to keep secrets than to be open -- and FYI I know what happens in my relationship if I try that. I'll give you a hint: it involves the biggest fights Mister and I have ever had.

(Another example of her man-hating is the way she keeps trying to get my sister and I to sponge more money and STUFF off of my dad. OMG LADY BACK OFF.)

One thing that I've learned recently about Mom is that she's even worse that my sister and I when she hasn't eaten. Oh she'll tell you she's not hungry, that she doesn't feel hungry at all (lemme tell you how emulating THAT attitude went for me... BADLY), but holy cow does The Beast emerge. When I was fabric shopping with Mom and N (Mister's almost-aunt and a very dear friend of mine), N was frankly shocked at how bitter, angry and verbally abusive Mom was to me and the world in general. We had a second shopping trip where we made a point to grab food (and have Mom NOT get lost and stuck in traffic), and she was absolutely pleasant. N was surprised at the Jeckyll/Hyde nature of Mom and had to revise her opinion of her. The first shopping trip, I was honestly embarrassed of and for her, as Mom normally tries to be agreeable the first time she meets someone! I just couldn't believe how much of a disaster it was. But! Thankfully, I now know this tip about feeding her and I will try to use it accordingly. :-P

If I could change ONE thing about my relationship with Mom it would be this: That when we have disagreements, she doesn't resort to nasty, snide comments about my abilities and/or decision-making. If she could reasonably explain why she feels a certain way, I could reasonably explain the reasons behind the decision-making. It wouldn't lead to such comments as: "Y'know, you're not really that good at sewing. You should just buy a dress" and would instead lead to: "Well, I understand that you want to make your dress since sewing and costuming has been a major part of your life since you were 4, but let's go try on some dresses for ideas". I had to find out through an intermediate party that that was the reason for dress shopping -- not trying to extort me into buying a dress.

I know that supposedly planning a wedding is one of the hardest things that one can do in regards to one's relationship with parents, as figuring out what to do that's right for the new family without compromising current familial ties allows a person to grow fully into an adult role in the community. (I read too many wedding blogs.) But boy oh boy do I wish it was already over and my mom and I figured out our relationship. We'll get halfway to having a real conversation, and then she'll suddenly remember I'm her kid and she'll flip into Mom-Mode and decide to lecture me about whatever it is that I've just shared (disregarding whether or not she's just shared the same bit of information). Bah.

Life is complicated, yo.

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