This is a rant. And no, I’m not literally going to strangle my mom. But the woman is going to make me insane if she hasn’t already.
Short version of the story: I live in Northern Virginia with my wife and newborn son. My family lives in Washington State, where I’m from. I miss them terribly, and they miss me, (even my stoic dad does, I think), but this is just the way it is for now. My wife is adamant about never leaving NOVA because she’s a native of the area, and my extended family, shall we say, isn’t exactly living a Christian life. She doesn’t want to raise our children around shacked-up relatives and pretend to call their boyfriends and girlfriends “uncles” and “aunts.”
Mom and Dad came out from Washington this week to see their newest grandson. But, Mom can’t be bothered to get up before noon. It’s not a time difference thing–she just doesn’t get up before noon. We saw them for a bit right after they arrived, mainly because it was well after noon their time, but after that, it’s been the oddest thing. My wife has had some exposure to this embarrassing character trait of my mom’s, so she’s not totally shocked, but she’s still “scandalized,” for lack of a better word.
I took Monday off so I could spend time with them. Their hotel is five minutes away, but they couldn’t get here before 2:30 because mom spent almost four hours getting ready. We did manage to have dinner later that night, but basically there was no need for me to take the day off if she couldn’t be bothered to show up almost before work is normally over.
The next day, yesterday, I expected them to stop by my office so I could show them around. Their hotel is FOUR BLOCKS AWAY. I thought, well, if she can’t get up before noon, maybe we could have lunch together. Nope. Too much hassle.
At the very least, I expected she’d want to see her grandson during the day. Nope. Had to go see the National Gallery of Art. I understand–she’s an artist–but hey, priorities, right? We ended up seeing them at dinner last night (Dad graciously took us to a high-end steak restaurant I’d otherwise never WALK past), but if you spend hundreds of thousands of air miles to cross the country to see your grandchild and, theoretically, your son and his wife, you’d want to spend time with them, right?
Apparently I expect too much.
I’d had it pretty well contained throughout dinner, despite the lousy traffic, despite what we were doing to our son’s sleep/eat schedule by taking him to a noisy, public place, but when it came time to plan for their last full day here, I lost it. Not insane losing it, but in vino veritas, and whoops, there was a slight scene.
Basically I said, “Here’s what you’re going to do: You’re going to meet me at my office at noon, then we’ll have lunch, and then that night we’re going to take you to a nice restaurant within walking distance of our house.”
Dad put the hammer down on that idea right away. He said “No, it’ll have to be one or the other.” Now, don’t get him wrong–this guy walks about five miles every morning before the sun even gets its lazy butt up. He was just saying that after 30+ years of marriage to her, he knows that Laws of the Universe will have to be broken to get Mom up in time.
That’s when I lost it. Luckily I mostly kept it inside, but I immediately got extremely tense and, well, Mom knows her son. “How did we get here?” she asked, totally incredulous.
“We’re not anywhere, Mom,” I said. “If you can’t find the time to spend with your son and grandson, that’s okay. We’ll just see you in July.”
And then a conversation ensued in which I had to avoid a full frontal assault because SHE JUST DOESN’T GET IT, AND IF I TELL HER HOW RUDE AND OFFENSIVE SHE’S BEING, SHE’LL EXPLODE.
I managed to smooth it out, but still…
So we’ll see. I’ve long suspected that someday I’m going to have to spell some things out for her, and she’s not going to like any of it, but I’ll try to avoid doing it while they’re here. But I KNOW that the next time we’re on the phone, and she’s almost crying because she misses me so badly, I don’t think I’m going to have an ounce of compassion. Want the definition of offensive? Being late for everything (including, almost, our wedding, and that was avoided because Dad literally shoved her out of the hotel).
Oh, one more thing–if there’s anything redeeming about my home state in my wife’s eyes, it’s a friend of mine whose been an alternate mother to me for almost 20 years. She’s a convert, just as my wife is, and her heart is as big as they come. She and my wife hit it off immediately. Unfortunately, this friend lives four hours away from my parents place. Taking valuable family time to go visit her has always been “political,” and I’ve always lost the battle when I even SUGGESTED visiting this friend. Mom accused me of just using their place while we we’d go playing with friends. Hah! I’ve spent more hours on expensive visits waiting for Mom to get up than can be reasonably expected of even a son. So, when we go out there in July, you’d better believe we have an excuse to go see this friend…
Sorry for the incoherence, but I’m still steamed and I suspect that I won’t be seeing my parents for more than two or three of the 24 hours we have left together. I can feel the anger building already…