2006-03-08 - 12:01 p.m.
I really do like my mother. I suppose I should make that clear. We were supposed to go out to dinner in the city last night with her friend from MA, who is living out here for the spring. I was sort of not looking forward to this -- late night getting dressed up and going into the city on a weeknight. It's actually really hard on the kids, too, who just do much better if we're around.
Anyway, thank god her friend was sick. We still went out, but we went out locally and were home by 9:00. It was still a pain in the neck, but she is fun to do things with. She gets excited and likes to go out and do things. That's a good quality, really. Plus, she's kind of cute.
The bad part of her is that she's not really a great houseguest. She's a great host -- she'll do stuff with you, or let you have time to do stuff on your own. Because at home she's invariably busy. She's a busy person.
But when she visits, she likes to be entertained. She likes to talk your ear off about any aspect of your life, from potato peelers to theoretical questions about the education of your children. It's exhausting! She likes to feel that she's experiencing things, which means going out to eat at famous places or doing things her friends have heard of. A more relaxing guest might be one who was a little better at entertaining herself and didn't talk quite so much.
Part of it is that I'm her kid, so there fore everything I do is interesting (but not always in a good way -- there are many things about my life that could be much improved, believe me! Starting with my potato peeler, which is very dull. Also, my children could be a lot more helpful. So could K, when it comes down to it.)
Another wearing thing is that she actually demands undivided attention. This is cumulatively exhausting, and it's also hard on the kids. She's a little self-involved, I think. I think a good guest should be able to fill hours of the day on her own, and to give the host time to deal with the responsibilities of her life that don't go away just because she has houseguests. She doesn't really understand that kids require attention. She never really has, actually, which is odd because it's not like she did not have children of her own.
Times were different then, of course. We weren't neglected, but certainly my mother never helped any of us with our latin vocabulary. Parents led a separate life. My father got home at 7:30, by which point the housekeeper had fed all of the kids (there were 8 of us -- a complicated step situation) dinner. We didn't really see a whole lot of my parents, actually. So now I think she would like to waltz in and hold hour-long conversations with me while the kids just disappear, but it doesn't really work that way in my house.
I think she got her ideas on children from her mother, who is something of a tatar.
Also, part of the problem is that I have never been even slightly interested in being the kind of grownup that she imagines. We don't have a cocktail hour where we send the kids away so we can talk about excruciatingly boring adult topics. I don't know what we do instead -- we kind of slouch around the living room while we should be making dinner. The kids do their homework while I do something, and K usually isn't even home until it really is dinner time.
I think the truth of it is that really, she would like the kids to go away like decorative objects so she could have undivided attention from me. But naturally I can't do this, so what we end up with is a situation where I am trying to pay attention to her (because I really am a nice, or at least generally nonconfrontational) person, and to the kids and to K, and that is actually more than I can really handle.
I don't really know why she wants so much attention from me. Well, I guess it's because she's fairly self-absorbed, actually. (Unlike me -- but this is, after all, my journal.) But although we have so far survived two days, I think what I'm going to have to do is to shift it so that she can interact more with the kids and K. I mean, I can't pay that much attention to her -- I just don't have it!
It will be better after tonight, when I have to go out, and after Thursday, when I have a very busy day. Actually, one of our very best visits ever was when she came out when M was born. I really had no choice, then. I really could not make her the central focus of everything, since N was 2 and M was about to be born. She had to be helpful, and I could only give her the attention I could give her, and that worked out fine.
OKay. Now I am tired of this topic. That's it.
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