Yesterday I spent a lovely Thanksgiving with my Brother and my Sister in law's family...SANE people. It was nice. And I got to thinking that when you grow up in a situation you don't really realize how messed up things are until you're able to experience what normal really is.
I mean I always felt resentment as a teenager when my mom had to work on Thanksgiving and she would have me prepare the Thanksgiving dinner, she would come home and make the gravy and then take credit for making the entire meal when our other relatives came over. Yes, I'm sure they all knew that my mom couldn't have possibly really have made the meal since they knew she was at work...It just really irked me that I did all the work and here she was taking the credit for it.
So when I went to Florida to visit mom, I went in knowing that she wanted to have a big dinner...and I knew that she can't really do all the heavy work anymore because of her COPD. So really I would make the dinner, and I knew that she would try to take all the credit for the meal. What I didn't know going in was that 1) mom doesn't have a dishwasher in this house (doesn't matter much as she would NEVER use it if she had it...it uses too much water that she can't afford to pay for!)
2)my step-dad does most of the dishes because my mom can't, he hates using the scrubby...so most of the dishes that we needed for the meal needed to be washed BEFORE I could cook anything with them. :p
3)mom wanted to use her good china for the meal! To that I put my foot down. Here it was bad enough that I was having to wash all the cooking dishes, there was NO WAY I was washing all the china. In fact I managed to have dinner on Christmas print foam plates. :D Not the greatest, but I didn't have to wash them. Honestly I think my sister in law was relieved because other than her boys trying to poke holes in their plates, she didn't have to worry about them ruining the dishes.
I do have to say that Mom did try to make as much of the dinner as she could. She made the beans almost entirely by herself, I just cut the onion and bacon. She bought a pre-cooked ham that I just had to lift into the pan and make the glaze for it. And she helped put the onions (that I chopped), flour, cheese and seasonings into the Mac & Cheese while I did the stirring.
However, she got after me for turning the heat up on the cheese sauce (to get it done faster) because it might lump up. I shot back at her that I've been making this very cheese sauce for 20 some odd years and I have NEVER had it turn out lumpy!
She also got after me for rinsing off the dishes before I washed them, because I was wasting water. At that I almost went into my purse and tossed money at her.
She made snide remarks at me for taking a few minutes to check my email and see how my family was doing.
She made comments about weight frequently (note the menu above!) She said my dog was overweight, she said her dog was overweight, she implied that my sister in law was overweight (she totally isn't and looks great!)
Yesterday after dinner I chatted with my sister in law about it...her mother also mentioned a few things too. Yes we know that my mom has a very low self image and her comments are her way of making herself feel better by putting everyone else down. I just wish that she could find a way to do it that wasn't so hurtful.
I've always felt that her separation from her mother and sister were the best thing for her in that she didn't have to subject herself to their continued bashing of her. However, now I wonder if perhaps her living in her self pity over the situation is just making things worse. She doesn't seem to have ever gotten over things. She won't let it go.
Before I went on this trip, I had considered trying to fly mom out here for Christmas. But after spending just over one day with her, I don't want her here. I can't be around her, she just brings me down.
Funny, while I was there she asked me to get her something for Christmas...a rather expensive knick-knack. I think she feels that if I were to get this for her, it wouldn't be such a burden because when she dies I would get the present back...however, I don't want this knick knack. And I had already planned to get her something she needs for Christmas instead.
I think I'm going to stick with my original plan and not worry that she's disappointed.
And I'm going to thank God for our rather large buffer zone!