Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Wish I Could Say...

The main event that started the recent stress ball rolling was arriving at daycare Wednesday morning to find out that Miss Lisa had been up sick all night- throwing up. Great. And I really loved the part where there was no phone call prior to bundling up children, scraping ice off the car, driving down the sheet of ice on the streets of the neighborhood, making frantic phone calls to find childcare for the kids... and no luck. So Jeff and I split the day. I took the morning and he took the afternoon. And we had decided that we were going to have dinner at church last night and I needed to swing by the food pantry to drop of the Heavenly Ham I had received at work. So the evening was hectic. My mom arrived this morning to take care of the kids- they could have gone to Lisa's since she now passes the "24 hours with no vomit" rule. But we thought a day or two with Grandma would lessen the exposure and give Lisa a break. On my lunch hour, I call home to check in and see how the kids are doing. And I get a lecture about my messy ("filthy" was her word) house. While my mom raised me as a single parent, she seems to have completely blocked out how hard that was. For the past 20 years, she has been a stay at home spouse and mom (There is a 15 and 18 year age gap between me and my brothers so she did things one way with me and then got to do it the "better" way with them). So she has had the time to clean and cook and bake and volunteer. Is my house messy? Absolutely. Is it "filthy?" Nope. Trash went out this morning. I did some straightening up yesterday morning when I was home with the kids. Jeff did dishes this morning. My bathroom (the one everyone uses) gets cleaned every other week or so. Do we have bugs? Nope. Rotting food? Nope. Is there clutter? Yup. Groceries in bags on the floor? Yup. Food sitting out on the counter (fresh fruit, canned goods, bagged snacks)? Yup. Clean laundry in baskets in my bedroom? Yup. I was very hurt and angry. I even cried. And was in shock. Had no clue how to respond. Ended the call. And have been handling it very poorly since. Thank heavens for understanding friends, a husband who gets me... and this giant bag of Cheetos and this cold can of Pepsi by my side. I would have loved to have posted on my blog about how special my mom is. About how lucky we are to have her in our lives. About how much she helps us out. About the special relationship she has with my kids and how I love watching that relationship grow. About how my kids get so excited about Grandma coming and so do I... because that is how it usually is when Grandma comes to visit... that is how I usually feel about my mom. But now I feel small and ashamed and overwhelmed. I feel like going home and going to bed. I feel like going home and telling her she can head back home tonight instead of tomorrow, that we'll be fine without her. She is at my house, cleaning and straightening and so on. And not playing and having fun. She said that Teagan is getting defensive about her cleaning. Well duh. Teagan wants you to play with her and do special projects with her. I'm rambling and all over the place because this is very emotional and scatter-y for me.

What do you say when someone is hurtful like that?

Maybe I should call that French engineer who lives in New England and ask for some pointers.

15 comments:

KPCL Girl said...

Families are the reason we grow up and move away from home....

You know what I would do, Liz? I would stop by the grocery on the way home and buy her some fresh flowers--maybe a small poinsettia--and give it to her when you get home, along with a thank you for helping you with the house. And if you cry when you do it, you'll either be sending the right message or...a wrong one that will work, too. I know you probably don't feel like bringing her flowers, but watch out for saying and doing things that will alter your relationship forever. Those are the landmines. Flowers not bombs. Good luck--and I sure understand...

yodaobi said...

LOL'd at the last part about calling the French Engineer!

Empathised about the rest. I am in the same boat, although James tries he's not very good at helping me keep up with the mess.

William really needs me to be spending time with him playing and the like on my "weekend" so the evenings are the only times I get to get anything done. I'll be writing more on my blog about how busy we all are... soon.

Big hugs... I couldn't even think about letting my mum loose in my house.

Ashli Moore said...

Smile...You are amazing and don't forget that...

Kristi said...

Sounds like my mom! I love my mom dearly but everytime she comes she makes a comment about something I need to do in my house, or makes comments about the clutter, the mess, etc. UGH! She's offered to come and help me clear the clutter several times but I refuse to let her because I know she will not be able to keep her criticisms to herself. I completely understand where you are comming from. I don't know what advice to give since I am often in the same boat. Sometimes I know she means well and just wants to help. Othertimes I am so annoyed by her comments I'd wish she'd leave and let me clean my own house.

Lisa said...

Ahhh, so much I could say, but probably nothing very useful to you. I have a horrible (non) relationship with my own mother. Not the same as what you are dealing with - I'm glad you have a relationship with your mom! - but I can very much relate to the feelings you describe. I'm sorry you have been hurt by her thoughtless and barbed remarks. ((hugs))

Jim and Garret said...

KPCL is dead on. Mom is wrong for passing judgement but I think it's what moms do. Some of that goes to the "I thought I raised you better than this" principle. If she's cleaning up, certainly be very thankful to her with a "thank you SO much, with the holidays it's been so hard."

Garret

Amy said...

Think you'd better follow KPCL's advice. Because I'd tell you to march in the door with some attitude and remind her about her habits left something to be desired when you were young. About how not everyone is lucky enough to get to stay home and tend house all day. About how Teagan probably won't grow up to say "I loved when my Grandma would come over and clean my house while she muttered about my mom's lousy housekeeping."

Yep. Stick with KPCL. Where I'd be heading would not be a place you'd want to go (but would be a place fun to visit with girlfriends and a pitcher of margaritas).

Joanie6726 said...

Sounds like Grandma needs lessons on how to be a grandma, and to know when to keep her mouth shut.

The last time my mother stayed with my kids (13 years ago and she did have some dementia BUT) she told them if they didn't behave, she was going to put them up for adoption. She's lucky I let her see them again.

morninglight mama said...

It's always so very easy for someone else to tell you all the things you are doing 'wrong' instead of acknowledging all the things you are juggling and making work. working full-time + having children = keeping a 100% tidy house is simply not an equation that exists for the majority of people! I like your first commenters idea about the flowers, although I can't say that I could be that big of a person, myself... best to you!!

Liz said...

I am so blessed to have such wonderful readers!

Ashli... you bring me such joy, woman! Thank you!

yodaobi- it is good to know that someone understand how hard this all is!

KPCL- A good idea, great advice. I didn't take it... but our evening has been good anyway. Not nearly as much tension as I expected.

To be honest... I don't feel like my house looks vastly different from when I left home this morning. So I'm not entirely sure what all she did to get rid of the suppose "filth!"

Liz said...

Thanks to all of these great comments! I feel so much better- so normal!

She really is a great mom. A fantastic grandma. She cooks and does crafts and stuff with the kids. Just from time to time, she takes her frustration from other things and channels it in my direction. It used to be my weight. Now it is my house.

Amy- I've got this sangria I picked up at Target this week... it's very tempting. LOL! And it was my 2 closest girlfriends (who I am fortunate enough to work with) who talked me through it. 1 of those friends sees my house ALL the time and she assured me that I'm doing fine.

Joanie... oh boy! If my mom EVER tried to make such a comment! Lordy! You are right- your mother is VERY lucky to have such a forgiving daughter!!

morninglight- It's funny because one thing in the conversation was very similar to what you said. She said "I know it's hard..." and I said "No. You don't." Because she doesn't understand the kind of job I have and the demands on me at work all day. She doesn't understand the impact of adding a second kid to the routine and gaining increased responsibilities at work. She was never a career woman and mom. She almost was. Never quite got there. So even though it would be nice for her to remember how it was such a struggle while I was growing up... she really just doesn't understand.

Garret- Believe me, I am thankful! My mom is generally very understanding. Has made comments about how she doesn't know how I do it. Offers to come for a weekend ot help me straighten up. So I thought she understood. I think there is other stress going on, honestly.

Lisa- I'm sorry you don't have a good relationship with your mom. By sharing that, you've helped me realize that I should count my blessings because the positives of the relationship far outweigh a hurtful conversation.

Kristi- I'm just relieved to hear that there is another mom with a messy, cluttered house!!

Jim and Garret said...

OK readers, everyone get your asses out from behind the computer and go clean!

Garret

Mel said...

The more I read your blog the more I feel a kinship towards you! I get it about moms...mine lives across the driveway and let's me know that her house would NEVER look like mine. That's fine...we have different priorities and I don't want to be the mom who nags through their entire childhood.

I'm sure that you are doing a fantastic job...and I agree..bring flowers...kill her with kindness :)

Mel

Jackie E. said...

I'm sorry that this situation has upset you so much but I totally understand why it would. The thing is no matter old we get, and how much we grow up, we still look for and need the approval of our parents.

Sometimes I wish we didn't, but we do and so when they say things whether purposefully or not that hurt our feelings, the results can still get us right at the core!

Unless this is a pattern with your mother-daughter relationship, then maybe you just have to think that she didn't mean to hurt your feelings and that she didn't realize the effect her words would have on you. I'd say tell her how you feel and go from there so that you don't harbor any ill-will and have it fester and grow into more than what it needs to be. Hope you feel better.

Alix said...

Liz, girlfriend, sister...

You have every right to be disappointed and hurt by your mother's cruel, thoughtless and insensitive comments. It was not her place to pass judgment on you or your house. How many emails have we all gotten in our lifetime that basically say: screw the housework, live in the moment, don't have any regrets, this is not a dress rehearsal, you only live once, don't let the important stuff pass you by, etc. etc.

I say three cheers for grocery bags on the floor. I say pull all the toys off the shelf and kick them around the room. But most of all, I say this: do not let your mother's inadequacies negatively influence the wonderful mom you are. Your kids are only small once. You have the rest of your life to clean the house.

Just so you understand what great company you're in, MY mom can probably rival yours. It's not a cozy situation. Be strong and have faith. You are doing just fine. And one parting thought... anyone who is stretched as thin as you and who STILL goes out of her way to drop a ham off at the food pantry on her way home from work is one HELL of a woman. I love you and am proud to call you friend.