Saturday, March 25, 2006

A mellower visit from Mom

As much as I love my mother, there's a reason I live several hundred miles away. We've always disagreed about how to live life. She wants me to uphold to several "traditional" expectations of behavior, while I, of course, have a melting pot of behaviors based on the influence of family, friends, and society in general.

Growing up, she always had the highest of expectations (not that I realized this back then). Growing up, I learned to be very hard on myself despite times when clearly I was lazy. It is also who I am today. It's been a long road (with many miles to go) to be aware of and to work towards letting go of the criticisms and disappointments. I had been preparing myself all week for a barrage of complaints, critiques, and aspirational advice from her. I went so much as to take a day off and make a half-assed attempt to tidy up my place so as to minimize the amount of cleaning and frustration she might voice upon seeing my "messy" space.

I picked her up from her meeting and we drove to the city to have dinner at an up and coming restaurant. My cousin joined us there. We had a pretty good time. My cousin talked our ears off. She's very different from me. I think I tend not to say much unless prompter. On the other hand, I think she enjoys telling stories. I couldn't help sit back at one point and just let them talk. It made me wonder if I seem boring to guys and whether they prefer girls like my cousin because then they don't have to work at the conversation.

Originally, we had told my mom that we wanted to treat her to dinner. When the bill came I swear I thought my mother was going to crawl over the table to take it from my hands. She was very upset that we were not allowing her to pay. It almost became embarrassing as the people sitting around us started to notice our little commotion. In the end, my cousin and I got our way and split the bill. My mother later commented that if I had paid for the whole bill that it would have been more acceptable but that she was upset I "made" Iris pay half the bill. Arghhh.

The drive home was fairly quiet. My mother had so far not been too nosy about our dating lives. Half way home, she did ask whether Is has a steady boyfriend. I told her no and assured her that we've both been trying. At dinner, I had mentioned that I went on a date with a guy last Thursday. I was surprised that she hadn't asked about it more - it seems so atypical.

In the car, I did elaborate further, saying that we dinner and the next day I wrote him a "thank you" e-mail with a suggestion to go hiking sometime. She seemed satisfied with my behavior. I summized his response saying that he thanked me for joining him for dinner but poo-pooed the hiking idea due to the rain. I added that what was frustrating to me was that he did not turn around and suggest an alternative for going out. She gave me a sound of agreement.

There was a pause and then she commented, "maybe you were talking a little too loud."

I immediately jumped on that and responded, "I don't think it's always my problem."

Her typically, non-logical response was, "I wasn't saying that it was." Uh, okay, but it sounded pretty clear to me. I went into this whole explanation of how we're all trying. In one case we'll meet someone we like who doesn't like us, and another time they'll like us more than we like them. We just have to keep trying until we find someone who likes us as much as we like them.

At another point, Mom asked about Is' cousin Ci. I told her how she moved into a place with her current boyfriend. My mother sighed with disappointment about how Ci doesn't really follow more traditional behavior (this is the 2nd/3rd guy she's lived with). I expressed that I was mostly in agreement that I don't approve of her moving in with her boyfriend (though for somewhat different reasons as I know a little more about Ci). It was almost surreal, but I took the opportunity to throw out some scenarios for my own curiosity's sake. I asked her how she would feel if I lived with someone but were only engaged. She said she wouldn't be happy with it but she figures we girls are at a mature enough age she has to let us be.

Then I went into this whole thing about children. She actually said, "do you think your brother and Dr would give you a baby of theirs?" WHOA, now there's an old fashion idea. Was she kidding? I know that was a practice back in the old days, but I can't see that happening in modern times. I didn't respond directly to that question but talked about the idea of adopting or having a child of my own. Neither sat well with her. She hates the idea of adoption because I "might get a child with bad genes" meaning deceitful, lying, dumb, crooked, etc. We both agreed that taking on the role of single parent would be a very difficult responsibility. I suppose it's nice to know that in some indirect way I would have her support (though grudgingly) if whatever may happen to me the next few years.

Ten minutes from home and I really put it out there. I said, "I didn't plan this. It's not like I wanted to be single at 35. At least I can say that I can take care of myself if I end up alone. I don't have to worry that my life will be ruined or I will be poor because I didn't get married."

Surprisingly she was very understanding. Mom even commented how my aunt had done fine all these years without being married. Still, she just can't understand why two smart and nice girls like me and Is can't find someone to marry. Well, I wonder too... .

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