October 13, 2005

Love = Urge to Throttle

Oh. My. GOD.

I had a conversation with my mother this morning that I still can’t get over. Let me give you the backstory before I share it in all its sordid glory: Until recently, my four brothers and sisters, ages 19 to 26, were all living in my mother’s house. I moved out about 6 months ago. I now see my mother only when she goes home from work as I am coming in, since she works the night shift, and occasionally on Saturdays. My two brothers moved out 3 moths ago, so she now shares her house with my two remaining sisters. One has a car, one does not. My mother’s car has hit 100,000 miles and needs to be serviced, leaving only one car available for three people for a few days. It’s 8:20 AM, I’m at work, and I call my mother to see how her recent trip up north went. Here’s how that call unfolded:

MOM:
OK, so I need to ask you something, and you’re not going to like it.

ME:
Um, okay…

MOM:
Would you be able to spend the night at the house tonight so you can take your sisters to work in the morning? (NOTE: My sisters are 26 and 21 years of age.)

ME:
Why?

MOM:
Because I have to take my car to Saturn in the morning.

ME:
Um, well… I really don’t want to…

MOM:
Well, I think you don’t really have a choice.

ME: (getting a bit irate)
Well… yes, I do, actually.

MOM:
No, you don’t, since people have given you rides places before when you didn’t have any way to get somewhere. They helped you then, so you get to help them now.

ME:
That’s probably true. If it is, then, yes, I should help them. But it is my choice whether I want to, and I should not strong-armed or guilted into it.

MOM:
Fine, then. You know you should do it.

ME:
Yes, but it’s not my responsibility. And I don’t appreciate your telling me I don’t have a choice.

MOM:
Well, you don’t, because there’s really no other way to work it.

ME:
And I’m sorry, but that’s not my fault. If I’m your last resort, why are you yelling at me rather than asking me politely?

MOM:
WHAT?!

ME:
I’m sorry, Mom, but you’re treating me like I’m five. I don’t live in your house any more, I’m 24, and you can’t just call me up and demand I do favors for you.

MOM:
Yes I can. You’re the one who’s always telling me to be more aggressive.

ME:
Um, maybe when it’s called for

MOM:
So only when I’m not talking to you?

ME:
Okay. What is your problem?

MOM:
I need a favor and you’re lecturing me on how I should beg you for it! I’m your mother! You should do it because I need you to!

ME:
But not because you told me to, damn! If you had called me up and said “It would be really nice if you could do this, since we thought about it and there is no easier way, and I know it’s inconvenient but it would really help me out--" You didn't even say please, Mom!

MOM:
I’m not going to beg you. If you can’t see your way to help other people, then that’s your own problem.

ME:
I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM! You do! And you’re trying to get me to help you with it by calling it some kind of obligation! It’s not my damn problem! If my car broke down, I would have to take it to the dealer and find some way to get to work the next day. That would be my responsibility. I could take the bus, or ask someone for a ride—but they would be under no obligation to say yes. And if they did, I would thank them for it.

MOM:
But if they didn’t, you would be mad.

ME:
Maybe, but that’s not the point. The point is it’s not their job.

MOM:
I get it. It’s not your job to help me out.

ME:
Mom…

MOM:
Would you do it anyway?

ME:
(sigh) You’re not listening to me.

MOM:
No. I need an answer. I have to call Saturn.

ME:
Well I guess my answer is yes, because I don’t have a choice!

MOM:
Good. Think about what you want for dinner.

Can you see why I ran screaming out of the house?

I should mention that I have a reputation around my house for being selfish; that I don’t like doing things for other people. Let me say: I don’t think that’s true. But I can see how my family, in particular, would think it is true. Last week, I picked up my brother from class because it was raining, and I knew he didn’t have a coat. I had a 100-degree fever. I offered to pick him up. Nice, right? Considerate. I routinely clean up empty pop cans (which I do not drink) and empty plates (which I have not used) around my apartment. I don’t do it to be thanked, and I don’t need to be asked. It’s not even my responsibility; but I don’t get angry about it, either. I don’t even realize I do it sometimes. It’s just nice. However, I don’t like it when someone in my family will call me and get mad if I tell them I can’t pick them up, or have dinner, or whatever on no notice because I have other plans. I hate the expectation. You can expect family to rush you to the hospital when you fall out of a tree or take you in when your house catches fire. You can’t expect them--order them--to bail you out when you need a favor. If you need something, ask. Don’t demand.

This is the entire problem with living in your childhood home in you twenties; seven grown people cannot live together and be expected to behave like adults when they are treated like children. I saw the problem day in and day out, but my mother refused to act on it, and then didn’t understand why the living situation never worked. The house was always messy. People were always yelling. We didn’t communicate by any means other than shouting and crying because the arguments were usually ended when one of us ran to Mom. SERIOUSLY. Twenty years old… and running to MOM. It was never going to work, and I couldn’t change it. I had to move or go insane.

I love my mother, she’s one of the best friends I have, but sometimes we just never see eye to eye, and it really hurts, because I spend most of the time thinking that she will always get me, and that we have the best relationship in the world, and then when we disagree… I just think “She has no idea who I am. She loves me because I’m her kid and she has to, but she has the completely wrong perception of me as a person”. I don’t want to be loved by my mother because we have a genetic bond. I want her to respect me for my opinions. I want her to really see where I’m coming from.

And I’ve bored you, and was not at all funny. I’m sorry.

But I’m right, though, right?

No comments: