Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What Mothers Do

Um, this is a bit long. Sorry. I'm wordy.

It's not rare that you would hear the words, "My mother's crazy" come out of my mouth. That's just frustration. A way to flippantly express the angst that most daughters feel for their mothers at one point or another. I don't really mean she's crazy. At least, not in the sense that she should be locked up or anything. Or that she's a danger to society. She's just sometimes a danger to me. (and as an extension sometimes a danger to my friends because I am in one FINE mood after she and I have a disagreement.)

It's just that she always has an opinion about everything. And once she had that opinion firmly in her mind (based on whatever facts seem to be very clear to her at the time) it is impossible to change. (Pot, meet Kettle. I know. I know.) The thing is, her opinions tend to be based on only a few insignificant facts.

But then, that's because a few insignificant facts about my life are all I will usually give to her. I mean, after one or two thousand fights, I tend to want to avoid such confrontations with her. So I just tell her as little as possible. Fool me once, and all that... I mean, I've got a temper, and the apple doesn't usually fall far from the tree. When my mother and I go at it, my father and brother usually leave the room and make sure a soundproof door is between us. My cousin usually gets a long day on yahoo messenger the next day as I try to figure out how to cope with full blooded Peruvians who are directly related to me.

So in the spirit of trying to grow, I opened up and talked to my mother when I was home for Thanksgiving about the whole story behind the boy (tears and all.) She's been cool (as in "distant," not "down wit dat") on the subject of the boy ever since I moved out. I know she doesn't quite get what's going on, and I KNOW she tends to see me as a weak victim (but I can't figure out wtf that's all about. Seriously? Does anyone else ever see me as a victim??) so I thought we would talk.

And talk we did. I poured it all out. (Warning: intimate details about Emily's relationship ahead.)

How he was a jerk when we lived together and I really needed him to step up. How he's since apologized and quit the job he hated. How he's making much less money, but he's so much happier. How we're talking through things much more thoroughly now. How I still don't know what the future holds, but I'm in no rush to the altar, and for now I'm happy that we're happy when we're together more often than we're miserable when we're together. (For a while it was a toss up.) I told her that what I love most about him is (at the risk of sounding cliche) that he gets me. He doesn't see my outgoing nature as flirting and doesn't get jealous, he knows that I'm hyper competitive and he's resigned to it, he knows that I spend twice as much time talking to my best male friend as I do all of my other friends combined and he's okay with that, and he knows that I'm insane but he's willing to work with it. He sees all of me, and he loves me the way I am, and I never knew how comforting/relieving/awesome that could be. Apparently all the things I see as flaws can't really be flaws because someone loves me completely despite all of them.

The things I question are, why are we happier now? Is it because we live apart? I mean, he helps me out more now than he ever did when we lived together. Why is that? Is it because he's out of that job he hated? Was he depressed in that job? Is it because my moving out frightened the heck out of him? Is he really growing up? Or do I just not see the issues that I saw so clearly when we saw each other all the time? Is he just putting forth effort now when he's afraid he's going to lose me, and if we move in together, will everything go back to how it was?? I think about these things. I really do. It's not like I'm thinking we're going to live happily ever after. I know we've got a mountain of problems to work through, and I know that if we can't live together, that throws a huge roadblock on any future I may be considering.

When I got done explaining all of this, I was breathless and teary. My nose was all red and snotty. It wasn't pretty. And basically my mother had this to say, "Emily, I just think he's too comfortable in the relationship. He knows that you're never going to leave him, so he can do whatever he wants and you'll always come running back to him when he snaps his fingers."

In the spirit of growing, I didn't yell, I just let out a resigned sigh and ended the conversation.

But then I thought about what she was saying. It's almost like she was saying what I was thinking (the putting forth effort thing) from a different perspective. She just sort of tweaked it so that apparently I am the hapless victim and he's got all this power in the relationship.

Hmm. When I think of myself and the boy, I tend to think of us as equals. A relationship is all about give and take, and all about compromise. Something we're getting better and better at. Well, at least I thought we were. Until, you know, my mother planted ugly seeds of doubt in my head. But then again, SHE doesn't know the ins and outs of our relationship. After thinking on what my mother had said, (one might say I spent time to "think on these things") rejecting them outright, rethinking, and generally driving myself insane, I finally brought it up to the boy.

After some immediate anger towards my mother (understandable) I sort of calmed him down enough to get him to see why I even brought it up. She took the same facts I already knew and just came at them from a different (albeit uglier) angle. After he adamantly denied what she had said, I pointed out why she might have the idea she does. I asked him about what really HAD changed since we moved out. How was I ever going to know that we weren't doomed to repeat the same mistakes? It was a very very interesting discussion that has actually been tabled until the next time we see each other. (We ran out of time. I tend to talk. A lot. News flash.)

I don't know that anything has actually been resolved, but then, that's not the point right now. The conversation was the point. The moving forward. The possibility that maybe things will be figured out someday in the future.

And that's what mothers do. Apparently even crazy ones.


AnnD said...

Wow! Ummm...I think that is the most intimate post you've ever written. It sounds like a therapy session! Anyway, I don't have any words of wisdom at this point...just more questions for you....

Sorry to be of absolutely no help right now.

Candace said...

Keep it up, I liked it. It is good that you are having honest converstions with him.

zlionsfan said...

Very interesting.

I believe you are already aware of my opinion on this subject.

I think it's cool that you blogged about this. You're likely to get interesting bits of feedback that may help you with it ... or maybe it'll reach other people out there who are going through the same thing, and they'll know you are too. That can help a lot more than people realize.

Moore said...

OK, I'm close to agreeing with your mother but then the "enchanted by beauty" aspect of my personality kicks in and I think what could he possibly have ever done wrong. So clearly, I'm no help here.

Farmerspice said...

I'm not your best, closest (by proximity or otherwise) but I'm so glad that you blogged about this. I know you and I have had similar conversations, mostly revolving around my male issues, but you've opened up a little. i hate to say it but I lover your mom more and more with each blog you write. My life is different....I live 2.5 miles from my mom ( I know this because I've walked it)

*think on these things* but not too much think about where those words come from and what the phrase truly means. honesty, just, lovely....

ems said...

AnnD - I'll email you and you can ask away. I didn't expect help, so you don't have to apologize. I can't decide if this post is about the boy, or my relationship with my mom.

Candy - Honesty is what I do best. Sometimes blunt honesty, and sometimes I get into trouble for it.

zlionsfan - yes. I know your opinion. But you also know the constant conflict that I have with my mother, so I was interested to see if you thought this blog captured that at all.

Miss Moore, I would definitely tell the boy that you think he's beautiful, but I think it might go to his head, so I'm just going to tell him that you have a crush on him :-)

Farmerspice - I've probably had more honest conversations with you about the boy than anyone else. Seriously. And everyone loves my mom. They always have. But then, you didn't ever have to live with her.

Farmerspice said...

Oh and p.s. does the boy still call me the attractive one? :)

I didn't have to live with your mother and you didn't have to live with mine. I met your mother one time 10 years ago ish. I'm glad you can open up to me. Believe me, it's all safe.

alisa said...

In the spirit of responding on the internet to something so personal I'm just going to say:

Thank you for sharing this. While I know you share some of these things with us privately, I greatly respect you for writing about this publicly ... it's humbling. Did that make sense?

And while you and I tinker with the thought that we may be VERY similar, I also think our mothers may also be very similar :)

Jaclyn said...

And just to be fair, does the boy feel like you handle things differently when you aren't living together? Surely he's not the only one causing this relationship to have issues.

ems said...

Oh, I'm sure I treat him differently now as well. The biggest thing is that I don't nag him to clean near as much as I did when we were together... :-)