When my mom doesn’t get her way, she pouts and sticks her lower lip out like a little kid who just got her lollipop taken away. She’ll even stomp her feet on the floor and cross her arms like a stubborn little brat. The worst thing she does, though, is to dramatize how “unfair” she is being treated. When she had an accident, and we finally took her car keys away, she sat down, crossed her arms, and wailed, “Fine! I’ll just sit here and wither away on the vine like an old woman put out to pasture - a poor old woman that nobody wants or loves!” I mean, could she be anymore like a child who’s been put in Time-Out?
We tell mom we love her - of course we do. That we are only taking her keys to protect her and other drivers ... what if she were to injure or kill someone in an accident? But she remains undaunted, and sticks that sucker of a bottom lip out and pouts to beat the band. How do you say, “Go to your room right now” to your own mother? Especially one who never had anything and sacrificed what little she had for her children? Who held me and rocked me while I screamed with tonsillitis when I was four? Who defended us like a lioness when someone accused us of something we didn’t do? Who had to move us back and forth between our maternal and fraternal grandparents, year after year, because our father couldn’t hold down a job to save his life?
So, think about that - about how much we have loved and laughed and adored our mother, and how she suddenly isn’t the same mother we knew ...
When my brother had to put a lock on my sister’s door to keep mom from stealing my sister’s new sheets off the bed, mom put a huge note on my sister’s door that said, YOUR DAY WILL COME! She also put that same note all over the house - on the refrigerator door, the toilet seat, the basement door, the front door and the screen door outside the front door.
My my sister is on a diet, but mom will take her special foods and hide them in the back of the freezer - and has even been known to throw them into the garbage.
How is do you deal with a parent who acts this way - who does her best to make you feel mean and guilty - how do you become the parent to your parent, with all those memories you hold so dear?