Saturday, September 15, 2007

Modifying Mom

This was sent to Aunt Babz via email...
Dear Aunt Babz,

I've never written to you before but I'm in need of some quick advice.....

My ex and I are planning a vacation for our son next month. All 3 of us are going to Disney World. Even though my ex and I aren't together anymore we are trying to get along for our child's sake. We split up when our son was an infant. It's been a very tough 3 years but we're trying to get along for his sake. For his birthday my ex and I wanted to take him to WDW. We are going for a week. And we were so excited about going. My ex paid for the trip which was very sweet of him.

After I made the reservations my mother asked me if she could go. I was shocked. Mostly because she doesn't like my ex at all. I can't understand why she would want to spend a week with him?! She wont even stay in the same room with him now and to be with us for a week??? My ex and I just don't get it. My ex said to tell her that she is more than welcome. I on the other hand know it's not going to work but what else can I do. I can't tell her no. Then I would hurt her feelings. She talks about my ex like a dog. Now she wants to go on a 7 day trip with him????

See the problem is that my mother is VERY hard to get along with. She's very moody and basically hates men. One day she'll be as happy as can be and the next day she wont answer the phone because she doesn't want to talk to anyone or doesn't (her family) to come over. She loves her grandchildren but NEVER wants to spend time with them. She buy them things, have us over for a few hours but that is it. Never babysits. Never takes them anywhere with just her. So the reason why she is going to Disney World can't be that she wants to spend time with her grandson. What do I do???? She already booked the trip. I'm not looking forward to this at all. I'm afraid that she's going to start an argument with my ex or have a bad attitude the entire time we are there. I love her to pieces. Don't get me wrong. No one gets it. Not my aunt, not my sister. No one.

If I knew that she would behave her self and not say rude things to my ex (or to me even) I would be happy about her going. But I know her and it's hard for me or my sister to be around her because of her moodiness. What do I do????? She just invited herself. And there is nothing I can do. Or is there???

Thanks for listening....

Dear Friend,

Sounds a bit Bi-Polar, huh? But it takes one to know one and I just might be the same way. I can be moody but not too much. However, I do have the problem with becoming almost anti-social or rather, it's gotta be on my terms. Now, I'm not around my Grandkids because I live about 9 hours away from them but I'd probably be the same way. I might babysit, when "I" felt like it but it's not a given. Some women feel they did their time, the Warden let them out of the Child Caring Prison and they'll never go back. Some women just evolve where they feel they don't still have the coping skills to take care of Grandkids. Your Mom may be one of them.

Mom may very well be set in her ways. However, it does not give her license to be a cranky old lady or to make life miserable for all those around her. Even if a vacation was not on the agenda, as it is, I think sitting Mom down and letting her know that while you respect her and love her even more, her unpleasantness is no longer welcome.

We tend to enable, typically grouchy people, not even realizing that we're doing it. We get so used to tippy toeing around them, it becomes habit, a way of life. In all truthfulness, we're doing them, as well as ourselves, a great disservice.

Old habits die hard but an old dog can learn new tricks. remember this. You, as well as your family, have allowed this to go on, so long, it has become a way of life, a given. Nip it in the bud! Behavior Modification can happen at any age. I think it's time. Read this, "How Will I Be Remembered." No, it's not the same scenario but you can take some good thoughts, good advice and apply it.

Quite often, the only emotion some of us allow ourselves, is anger and animosity. Quite often, we tend to allow a person, in our family, to continue on this path, which is actually self-destructive. Your Mom may not even realize that she is thought of as an unpleasant and hard to get along with person. I do believe you'd be doing her a favor by bringing it all to her attention. Now, how do you do that?

I am a big proponent of writing ones feelings down, in the form of a letter. You must be careful how you word things, be respectful and make sure that you start the letter, on the premise, that you want her to be happy, live a long time, you love her and respect her. Happy people live longer, besides the fact that you want to enjoy her company. You know you can love someone unconditionally but not like them, or their behavior. It'd be real nice, if you all could learn to like each other and enjoy the years, Mom has left. You let her in on that little secret.

I think it's all a matter of approach. In your mind, you have to know that her behavior is unacceptable. For you to worry that she will act out and behave inappropriately, on your vacation, is a clear indication, that things are not as they should be. As an adult, you must look at it, from the perspective, that you will not tolerate or put up with her moodiness, any longer. If you were her employer, she'd have to behave or be fired. If you were her best friend, she'd not keep a friend, very long, if she mistreated them.

We all have the ability to control our emotions, for the most part. When we don't control them, it's usually in a setting where we feel it's safe to act out or to show our rotten side. You guys, unknowingly, have given her this safe spot and you've just chalked it up to, "Well, that's just Mom being Mom." But it's wrong, it's inappropriate or you'd welcome her and her company on your trip. You just need to make a conscience effort or observance of when or why she's behaving as she does. You've got to get to a point where you say, "OUCH."

PS, Maybe write a Contract of Fun. If you write out a contract and everyone signs it, stating that all involved will behave like an adult, be respectful and mindful of others, she may not think it's directed at her but all involved. Close the contract with, "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing."

1 comment:

sKILLz said...

Great advice as always.
However what if even after she tells her whats up her mother flips the script and starts to bug the fuck out? then what? Shes not going to throw her off the tea cup is she?