“If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” — Anne Lamott
I don’t know the context of that quote, only that I love it & that I’m convinced that quote refers to discussing one’s parents as I’m about to do. A year ago this month I phoned my mother for the first time in 6 months. The reason for the lapse of communication was that I had had a rough couple of weeks just prior to the Holidays & “missed” her calls for about 10 days In response, she threatened to file eviction proceedings against me & my family. At Christmas. Because She wasn’t getting enough attention from me, specifically. My husband phoned her back, ripped her a new one & resolved things as best he could. He had a bad cough & a lot of stress. The call I made to her 6 months later was to tell her he’d been diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with a grim prognosis & that we could no longer afford our rent as he was off work for cancer treatment. She agreed to lower our rent for one year so that we could continue to live in the house she owns.
That year has expired. But I felt every second of it ticking by. It’s been filled with obligatory phone calls, text messages, & greeting cards. I’ve jumped through so many hoops you’d think I was a circus pony, and for what? All to receive $6000 of financial help with so many strings attached I may as well have been a marionette. Some of those strings, I might add, meant me sacrificing my time & *money* to care for things that she neglects; other rental properties, my father, her belongings, etc.
Today was the day the phone call came in. She wants to put our rent back up to full knowing that I’m unemployed (by her husband / my father) & dealing with medical problems (including a recent fibromyalgia diagnosis), my husband is awaiting word on whether his cancer has returned, my child is entering her most expensive year of high school, and we are wading through the quagmire of financial & medical uncertainty.
When my husband handed the phone back to me she was crying. I asked her what was wrong & if I could do anything, she told me to win the lotto because then she could stop worrying about me. Apparently she remarked about how bad I must be feeling to have seen multiple Drs & been put on medication (I’ve got issues there, I’m sure I’ll talk about it in a later post. Suffice it to say – It’s notable that I’m seeking medical treatment & medication). She said that things must really be bad, I must be in a lot of pain – and that’s true. My husband told her as much. He responded, “You’ll never know how bad it is for her, how bad it has been for her”.
Her tears could be guilt for being a shit mother & asking her only child who desperately needs her help right now for more money. They could also be a desperate attempt to distract from that fact by making it seem as though she is troubled by my struggles… but for that to ring true she’d have to not constantly need my attention and my money and my time. For that to ring true she’d have to actually give me some of hers for once.