I love my Mother. I really do. In most respects she has been a very good mom and she loves me and she adores my daughters. She has also attained near-mythical perfection as a Granny. My girls think Granny walks on water, and there is nothing Granny will not do to make them happy. For her grandparenting alone, I would love my Mother.
But the woman can pony up an unholy mix of love & pain. Her fall-back position is a slow but steady grouse, that falls like gentle drops of acid rain on the scorched earth of you psyche, but only because she loves you, not that you care now but she assures you that you will in a couple of years after she is gone. You know how Jewish comedians describe their mothers? Yeah, like that.
She is also a critic. If the Lord God Almighty appeared on Earth, my Mother could point out the gold on his robes totally clashed with the jasper on his crown. Watching a movie or TV show with her is an adventure in “look-what-the-director/editor-missed”. There is nothing so fun as her “honest opinion to be helpful” commentary on your housekeeping, your husband, your parenting, and your clothing. You know how Amy Tan (excellent author, BTW) presents Chinese mothers as criticizing in order to show how much they care about the person they are ripping up? Mom does that. And since she is doing it from love, she is startled and hurt if/when I peel her face off for it.
This leads to dumb fights with my Secretly Jewish/Chinese mother. I simultaneously feel guilty about and resent these fights. For example, this last weekend Mom and I had the following fight:
Mom: I stripped the beds for you and put the sheets in the wash after I folded all the clothes that were in the dryer.
BF: Thanks, mom. You don’t have to do all that you know. You could relax and just sit if you want.
Mom: (Hurt and petulant) You won’t let me do anything will you? It’s because I can’t do it good enough for you.
BF: (breathing deeply and praying for calm) Mother, you are smoking crack again. If I say you can rest it’s because I want to you to be able to feel relaxed here and not feel like you are my servant.
Mom: Well, I just want to be helpful.
BF: You are very helpful. I appreciate it. Really. I just don’t want you to think you HAVE to do it.
Mom: (slightly mollified) I don’t mind a bit. I didn’t know if you wanted to wash your allergy covers on your mattresses or not.
BF: They are actually mattress protectors in case one of the girls has an accident or springs a leak in the night.
Mom: Well, they LOOK like allergy covers.
BF: And yet, they are not. The are simply mattress protectors and since no one wet the bed, then they don’t need washed.
Mom: I think they are allergy covers.
BF: (starting to breath thru my nose) No, they are mattress protectors in case of pee-pee.
Mom: (skeptically) They sure look like allergy covers.
BF: (my temper blown) For the love of baby Jesus! I bought the damn things, Mom! They are mattress protectors! Can you NOT just take my word for it?
Mom: (sniffing and crushed) I don’t know why you have to be so mean to the mother who loves you.
BF: Oh for shit’s sake.
Mom: You use so much profanity! Where did you get a mouth like that?
Almost every single fight we have ever had is the extended dance mix of this one. She really, truly does not see that I was provoked. In her world, she is having a perfectly innocent conversation and I just blew up. Or she’ll say she was joking and I just have no sense of humor. Then she’ll cook dinner, clean my house, buy me a load of groceries and my kids a closet-full of clothes, and ask me if I need new shoes. This makes me feel guilty that I am not more patient. Which makes me wonder if she is doing it because she loves me or because she is manipulating me. Which makes me feel bad because it is an ugly and unworthy thought, because I KNOW she is doing it so I will love HER. I already love her. The cleaning/money is unnecessary.
Anyone have an uncomplicated relationship with their mom? Anyone?