Friday, February 6, 2009

My Mother is Mad at Me

My mother, who has tried really hard to understand why I would leave the comfortable confines of the US to travel with my husband to the hinterlands, and eventually Futalandia, is extremely upset with me after I sent her an email just a few days ago. The spat started like this....

Everywhere I post online, the forum I enjoy, the blog, Yahoo Messenger, my mother is all in it. There is not a morning, or evening I sign into YM that she is not on, waiting for me...."DING! DING", little cutesy messenger rings, "I KNOW YOU ARE THERE!", "I CAN SEE YOU!" Then she says, "Did you see what so-and-so said on your forum?!?!?!?!", or "Why didn't you tell me about the electric...I saw what you wrote on your blog," or "I saw the youtube video of your house, you should burn the sonavabitch down!". "What did so and so say to you in the email?!?!" Hostage, I am hostage, and no movement I make is my own online.

She is recently widowed, my beloved father-in-law passed away November 2007 after a long battle with cancer, leaving my mother dwindling in the wind. She is smart, and strong, and has always loved books, and history, and music....and her dogs. It is my opinion that she is now living in a very small world of her computer, her dogs, and me.

She says she is lonely, and depressed. I say, "Go join a book club Mom. You love to read." No. Don't feel like it. She hates thinking up things to eat everyday. "Start a dinner club Mom. I'm sure there are a lot of people who hate doing dinner every night alone." No, weather is too bad. Don't feel like it. It's cold, she has to drag wood up and into the house for the fireplace and she says it's hard, and she too old to be "doing this shit!" I tell her we will pay to have someone to do it for her. "I CAN DO IT MYSELF! I'M NOT HELPLESS!" she says. "I don't need anything," she says. I don't need your money, she confirms.

I chat with her online, while she is chatting with another friend. She copies me his posts, and mine to him. WTF?!?

"Take a trip Mom, go somewhere, have some fun." "I can't leave these dogs," she says. "We'll (my brothers and I) will pay for someone to care for them, Mom." "I don't need anyone to pay for anything. I'M FINE."

My mother has an extensive list of online friends to which she delivers copies of anything I write, anywhere...emails to her, posts from forums, my blog, photos. She says she doesn't, but people write and say, "Hey, your mom sends me everything you write, I know all about......" Don't do that Mom, I say. Please. I would like to choose whom I send stuff to, whom I share stuff with. If people want to visit my blog, fine. But please don't inundate them with my adventures. They don't know me. She want's all my friends info. Who are they, how would she get in touch with them if she needed to. She has my shutterfly account info for pictures and copies all of my photos into her account. She prints out all my emails and saves them. Right now she's probably deleting them all, and burning all of my printed emails.

So...recently, I shut off my blog to anyone while I thought about how to have something, anything private, or while not private, just something of my own. I will be turning FIFTY YEARS OLD in March. Not only should I have a life of my own, but my mother should be living her own life.Not living vicariously through me. Not holed up in her house bouncing between instant messaging with online friends all day, watching for me, cataloging my posts and blog and feeding and letting out her "kids". But she has "her babies", the dogs, all four of them. I might have mentioned that in my email to her, and now...

She has removed me from her Instant Messenger list on Yahoo and informed me that she has done so. She will no longer read my blog, she will not read the forum, she will not call me, nor will she inform me of information about family, ("I hope you have a way to learn news of your family, as I will no longer be providing such information,") and she will "not be a part of, or intrude in my life anymore." She left me one last message on my computer phone, "bye!".

There is no way to tell a parent that they are too clingy I guess. If they are, they are. Telling them only crushes them and the hurt feelings explode like a mad boil. She tells me her life is lonely and she's depressed and nothing has much meaning except her dogs. I point out to her that she needs to go out and make a life, and she shoots back, "I'm perfectly HAPPY with my life!"

Bye, she said.


ResidentExpat said...

Dear Vicki

I am sorry to read this. I believe your mom will calm down later and your relationship will be restored. It is difficult when parents lose their spouse and their world shrinks to one that comprises only of their nearest and dearest.

I understand your desire to choose who you share information with. And certainly, it's one thing to say in a conversation, "My daughter ..." and quite startling to have entire conversations forwarded or shared.

Not knowing your mother, but knowing how proud parents can be of their offspring, it could have been one way for her to share her pride in what you're doing.

She'll come around. She's just angry and hurt right now.

Vicki Lansen said... are absolutely correct, and I am deeply sorry that I hurt her feelings. I understand that she is proud of me, but where to find a fine balance, and how to push her to move on with her life? She is a sweet, intelligent, wonderful woman. I hate seeing that her world has been shrinking and only wanted to set some boundries and push her out into the world that is just waiting for her.

Thanks again for your comments.

Laura said...

This a tough one. My grown son tells me "you're being too helpful again" when I've crossed that fine line. He's strong and independent and that is success for a parent. From time to time, I forget that myself. And he says "Mom, you're being too helpful". And I smile and shut up.

Laura said...

My own mother refused to join book clubs or make other friends,after she retired. I don't think there's much to be done. My siblings and I all tried. Just hope she will see she has her life and you have yours and you still love each other.