Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A happy ending

I wasn't too pleased with my behavior with Mom. I yelled at her during part of the cappuccino-making experience, "You are not being helpful! I said it wasn't obvious how to do it and now you are telling me it's easy. It's not easy!"

I snapped at her when I was trying to secretly read blogs, "Do you have a label?" she asked.

"What? What do you mean?"

"A label. For an envelope. I need to address an envelope and I need a blank label." "Fine. Here." I handed her some labels, thinking she was crazy (she brought a Netflix dvd with her and was going to send it back to the receiving center near me rather than the one near her). She hovered. I felt under scrutiny.

"Can I just have five minutes?!" She retreated to the living room.

Monday night we had dinner. It was good. She wasn't sure I wanted to come. I did, because I didn't want the visit to end on a sour note.

Over dinner, Mom said, "I try not to say those things that make you angry. I know it's something I do. Checking on things. Things I say that bother you. There were lots of things I didn't say." I smiled. "We should have a good time together. We like a lot of the same things and we're funny. But you get angry at me. But I don't know if I can keep doing it like this. If there is some deeper issue, I want to explore it. Maybe there is some role playing or something we could to just get it all out there and have it done with."

"I don't know that there is any deeper issue." I said. I liked that we'd reached the same conclusion. I think maybe recognizing the problem will help me. Intellectually, I know her behavior is not about me. I don't know why it drives me crazy. I also thought that not having her stay at my house might help. "You don't usually get that angry, do you?"

"No." I said. "I've recently been told I'm not angry person. It's rare that I get angry."

"That's what I thought. Is there anything..."

"I don't like how you keep bringing up the stuff." Honestly, I don't know what the deeper issue is. But I was uncomfortable so I brought up an issue, which may not be the issue.

We talked for a while about the stuff that she wants me to take. We had a calm conversation about it. The rest of the meal went well.

We walked back to her hotel and I went up to the room and we watched HBO (Six Feet Under came on and I had to stay for that). Mom asked me to spend the night, but I said I had to get home. It was the most relaxed time we spent together.

I really like my mom and I wish it wasn't so hard for me to be around her. I'm hoping that this is a good sign, though. She used to be the one that would lose it with me. Now I'm more likely to lose it, but tonight I demonstrated that I could pull it together. We both behaved well and that was good. We actually enjoyed being together. We talk on the phone at least once a week and about 80% of those conversations are good. It's the in-person meetings that are painful.

Even though Mom didn't seem to recognize it, we've had MUCH worse times together. Times when she's said amazingly hurtful things to me. This time, she said nothing hurtful to me (go Mom!). I did yell, snipe and generally behave like a baby (not all the time, but way too much of the time), but I did not say anything hurtful. I asked her to stop second-guessing me and questioning me and checking on me. I showed some anger, but the words I spoke were requests for her to stop judging me. I'm sure she didn't like hearing that--but it wasn't "I hate you and never want to spend time with you again."

A real sore spot with me is when I feel like I'm being patronized. I think I feel that way with Mom. She does stuff that could be interpreted as patronizing and that's where I go with it. But I know it's not her intention. She knows that it comes off that way and is trying to restrain herself. Trying and not always succeeding. I need to cut her some slack. I think I can do better. I'm sure I can. Got to laugh it off, baby.

Grateful for: learning to laugh at myself.

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