Wednesday, May 02, 2007

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.”
- Maya Angelou

My mom is wonderful and amazing and I adore her. So do my sisters. So I want you to understand that the following story is related with the utmost respect for my mother, perfect hurricane that she can be. She has raised more children than I would ever have agreed to, earned a Master's Degree in her chosen field, takes amazing care of my grumpy and rapidly aging grandparents and completely redecorated her house five times in the last year. She is a force of nature. She loves her kids no matter what stupid crap we do. She makes a killer baked mac and cheese and can guide you through roasting the perfect turkey via phone across thousands of miles WHILE making her own Thanksgiving dinner. She is not a woman to be trifled with. But let's face it, no matter how much you love your mother, she is also one of the people most capable of making you crazy (...she is, incedentally, in this respect just like your sisters).

My sister is going to miss a family event because she already has a plane ticket to visit a friend for the weekend in question. The (expensive) plane ticket was purchased for her by that friend as a gift BEFORE we had any idea when the family event was taking place. This has necessitated a great many phone calls, emails and confusing messages betwixt my sister and parents. It has also resulted in my father calling to make sure I will DEFINITELY be in attendance, well, roughly 243 times at last count.

The following is a slightly edited version of my sister's last phone conversation with mom. I don't know about everyone else out there, but when my mom wants you to do something she knows that nothing works like guilt. Just like homemade apple pie and comfort food casseroles - this is something NO ONE can make the way that mom does.

(The dog's name has been removed to protect the innocent as the dog is in no way responsible for the following.)

So my sister calls mom and says...

Sis: Hey! I was thinking of coming to visit since I start my new job next week.

Mom: Well, we're very busy with [blameless dog]’s medical problems. But it WOULD be nice to see you.

Sis: I thought that since I can't come to [family event], I should try and see you before I'm tied up at the new job.

Mom: It’s a shame you can't come. I mean, the date HAS been set for a year.

Sis: You told me about it a month ago.  And then you said no one was going.

Mom: Well, you know it’s important to your father. He was counting on you coming.

Sis: How was I supposed to KNOW? If it was such a big deal, why wasn't I told the dates?

Mom: Don't worry about it. I'm sure he's not angry with you.

Sis: What?!?

Mom: I know you and [your friend] are close, but this is your family.


Mom: It's not MY thing. It's your Dad's.
I don't care.

Sis: ...

Mom: I suppose if you want to visit I could transfer some money into your account for gas.

Sis: I didn't call to ask for money. I just wanted to let you know I was coming up tomorrow.

Mom: We have a new sleeper couch! You can stay with us!

Sis: Well, I talked to [my sister], maybe I could split the nights.

Mom: If you think that's a good idea. Our house is full with your brother in town.

Sis: Okay, so I'll stay with her. She offered to help with gas, so I'll be in good shape.

Mom: Well, I can transfer some money later today.

Sis: I. Did. Not. Call. About. Money.

Mom: Hey, did I give you [insert movie title here] for Christmas?

Sis: Yes.

Mom: I saw part of it on tv, can you bring it?

Sis: The DVDs aren't unpacked, but I'll look.

Mom: (suddenly rushed) I have to go, I'm at the store. I'll talk to you soon. Love you!

Sis: Love you too.

It is important to note that in this one conversation Mom manages to be passive-agressive, apply liberal amounts of guilt, use my sister's fear of disappointing our father, semi-accuse my sister of only calling because she needs money, give and then recind an offer of sleeping space, make a rapid subject change to end the discussion AND suddenly become too busy to talk. She is a talented woman, Mom is. I think if she could get away with it she would do the whole, "(ffffttttttt bzzzzzz fffftttttt) I'm sorry you're breaking up. (ffffttttttt bzzzzzz fffftttttt) I can't hear you..." routine when she's tired of talking and just hang up.

Now, from my mother's point of view this phone conversation sounded COMPLETELY different. To my mother, it involved my sister being unreasonable and wanting gas money and not being sufficiently concerned about my father's feelings. It probably had not only different punctuation but entirely different content. I realize that. But I can't help it. I think it's HI-LAR-ious. I nearly peed I was laughing so hard about this - I have had THIS EXACT SAME conversation with my mom about something or another (hasn't everyone?).

Conversations like this are the reason that, when I watch Home for the Holidays, I think of my family. You love them. And they're insane. And they make YOU crazy. That's why they're family.

May, by the way, is mother month here at Dame. For the obvious reason.

1 comment:

  1. Wait until your mom gives you money w/o asking if you need any, offers a place to stay when you need it, cooks for you at the slightest mention of hunger and then the day before Mother's Day backs into your car... Aggravating I know but how can you be mad at the woman on the floor crying as she wraps my grandmother's gift, the woman who gave me life and anything else i ever wanted or needed... I truly hope one day that I'm as amazing as my mom, so that i may one day do something terribly irresponsible and expensive and have someone hug me and say "it's ok".