Author Topic: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.  (Read 5020 times)

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mmswm

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I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« on: December 29, 2012, 01:49:57 PM »
I made a very difficult decision recently, and moved back in with my parents, even though they're toxic.  I don't want to rehash the details, but lets just say that it was not a decision I entered into lightly.  Now, I know I need make the best out of the situation, so I'm trying to tread lightly, but this morning my inner chi went bonkers. 

Pretty much as soon as I got up, and before I even had a chance to go pee, my mother started in on the PA stuff.  As I was walking through the kitchen to get to the bathroom, she looked at one of my kids and said "your mother is making pancakes this morning".  I sort of ignored that and continued on to the bathroom.  As I was getting my shoes on to take the dog for a walk, she went on and on about how very hungry she was and so on and so forth.  At this point I lost my temper and said "So, when are you going to ask me to make breakfast?".  She replied that she already had so I said, "No, you announced to one of my kids that I was making pancakes without having any sort of previous discussion with me.  Don't you think that's rather passive aggressive of you?", then I promptly left the house with the dog.  Keep in mind that it wasn't even 7am, I hadn't had my coffee and I don't do mornings very well.  Also, my mother has recently had ankle surgery so she can't cook for herself.  I have no problems cooking.  Actually, I've specifically requested that I be allowed to do ALL the cooking while I'm here because of my severe food allergy.  I'd rather take over the kitchen than risk death. If she had said "Gee, I'm really craving pancakes this morning, could you make them for everybody for breakfast?"  I would have said "Sure!".  Actually, I would have probably said, "are waffles okay?", since that's actually what I wound up making.

Anyway, my question is how can I handle situations like these without causing any unnecessary drama.  My mother has been pouting in her bedroom all day over this morning's exchange, and I'd rather not have all the drama in the house. 
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)

baconsmom

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2012, 02:05:28 PM »
Honestly, I think you were fine. You need to re-train her to ask questions.

If your tone was a bit short, simply remember in the future to be calm and say, "Did you want to ask me a question? I hear a lot of statements. Is there something you need to ASK me to do?"

She can pout all she wants, but grownups ASK when they need something.
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bloo

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2012, 02:11:25 PM »
Since you can't stop someone from being who they are, and you probably can't move right away, keeping the mindset to the fore that you're grateful to have a roof over you and your children's heads might help mitigate your temper (which I totally understand having a hard time controlling with people behaving like this).

So I'd probably try dealing with stuff as it comes up. Now that you know she'll be a PA whiner about breakfast or possibly food in general, tonight, before bed discuss your breakfast plans so she doesn't have to wonder. Maybe post a menu on the fridgeof the weeks meals since you'll be doing all the cooking anyway. Give her a reasonable meal schedule (I mean what times you will be making meals or snacks).

Apologize even when you don't really mean it to keep the peace and try to lay plans to leave ASAP since you can't have a reasonable sit-down discussion with toxic people. I like baconsmom's thoughts but it's hard to re-train toxic people.

DO have regular private, age-appropriate discussions with your kids about your parents so they understand why they are living in this situation and can help make the best of it.

Best wishes and I hope you're able to leave soon!

CrochetFanatic

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2012, 02:34:56 PM »
I think it's hard not to respond like that when you grow up with that kind of PA stuff.  Just speaking from my own experience, I've had to learn how to counter PA with PA, and to know the "opponent's" mind games inside and out due to sheer self-preservation.  Then I had to unlearn it, because there are other ways of handling it that are more polite and less exhausting.  Sometimes I fall back on old habits with my mother, because I've got her tongue and my father's temper. 

Everyone falters from time to time, but I don't think what you said was really all that bad.  I'm not a morning person either, and you did end up making breakfast.  In the future, you might not be able to get her to change the way she "asks", but you could turn it around by asking her, "So, would you like me to make breakfast?  I wasn't sure if you were being funny."  Or you could even leave off that last bit. 

Oh Joy

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2012, 03:23:15 PM »
I'm sorry that you're in a difficult position.  But let me make sure I've got this straight: you moved in with your kids and requested that you do all of the cooking.  On the first morning, your mother was in the kitchen with one (or more) of your kids when you passed through and then returned to take your dog out, and you ignored her PA comments.  Had you set up any expectations for when meals would be prepared or what she's supposed to do if your kids were hungry before you got up?

Deetee

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2012, 03:25:03 PM »
You have two children so you know that you should not reward bad behaviour. However, you also know that sometimes kids are just going to act a certain way because they are 2 or 4 or 6. (Which is why I spent 30 minutes on a car trip yesterday handing a water bottle back and forth to my four year old who would take off the top, take a single sip, put on the top and give it back to me and then request it back 1 minute later-annoying? kinda, but once you have said "No" to the request for treats, kicking the seat, going to the park, reading a story and about 14 other things on a 3 hour car ride, you just go with the least painless option)

Your parents are toxic. They will not change. You need to live there. This will not change.

So I think you dealt with things OK, but I wouldn't try  to call your mom out (personally, not suggesting this is universal). I would correct her.

Maybe something like:

As I was walking through the kitchen to get to the bathroom, she looked at one of my kids and said "your mother is making pancakes this morning".  I sort of ignored that I said "Kidsname, I haven't decided on breakfast yet. I'll think about that after I walk the dog. If you are hungry, there are some apples in kitchen" and continued on to the bathroom.


As I was getting my shoes on to take the dog for a walk, she went on and on about how very hungry she was and so on and so forth.  At this point I lost my temper and said "So, when are you going to ask me to make breakfast?".  I said "Oh, that's too bad. Anyhow, I'll see you in half an hour. Bye!"

mmswm

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2012, 03:31:40 PM »
I'm sorry that you're in a difficult position.  But let me make sure I've got this straight: you moved in with your kids and requested that you do all of the cooking.  On the first morning, your mother was in the kitchen with one (or more) of your kids when you passed through and then returned to take your dog out, and you ignored her PA comments.  Had you set up any expectations for when meals would be prepared or what she's supposed to do if your kids were hungry before you got up?

I've been here about a week.  I've been adjusting my schedule since I don't normally wake up that early.  My family usually gets up around 7:30.  My mother gets up around 6:30.  This all happened at about 6:32. Since I want to do all the cooking, I feel like it's my responsibility to adjust my wake up schedule to meet my mother's, not the other way around.  Like I said before, I would have been okay with "I'd like pancakes this morning, can you make them?", but the PA comment when I was barely awake tripped my temper. 

I think I like the idea of sitting down with my mother the night before and ask her what she'd like the next morning.  That gets her what she wants and removes the PA conversations when I'm not awake enough to grin and bear it. 
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)

Sharnita

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2012, 03:35:57 PM »
How old are your kids?

Phoebe

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2012, 03:36:05 PM »
She may have been a bit PA, but you were at fault as well.  You requested you be allowed to do all the cooking.  Ignoring her statement to your kids was a bit PA in itself.  Everyone's going to need a bit of time to adjust to the new living conditions.  Snapping at your mother without having said a word to her beforehand isn't going to help.

mmswm

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2012, 03:45:44 PM »
How old are your kids?

They are 13, 11 and 10.  The 11 year old is living with my sister because he is ultra sensitive and we thought it best to keep him away for the time being. Also, he is not affected by the genetic bone disease that affect the other two, so he's easier for a relative to care for.  They are all boys.

Phoebe, yes, I recognize that I was at fault.  That's why the title of the post is "I did not handle this well".  I'm looking for advise on how to manage in a less than ideal situation, while maintaining my sanity.  I don't know though, that ignoring her was PA.  In my mind, it was "if I open my mouth right now it's gonna get ugly, so I would be better to not say anything until I can say something nice".  Obviously, it didn't work out so well, but if I'd responded right then, it would have been even uglier.

I guess my goal is to modify my own behavior so that I can live in relative peace and also make sure my kids don't suffer from the effects of toxic behavior of my parents.  In my mother's defense, she's FAR better than her own mother.  There is no doubt in my mind that she loves me and that she only wants what is best for me, but she grew up in what can only be described as a house of horrors, so her own role models weren't exactly wonderful.  Does that make any sense?
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)

TootsNYC

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2012, 03:52:14 PM »
I would say, be proactive, and don't ignore anything, not the tiniest little PA dig, etc. Immediately response AS IF she had actually spoken directly to you instead of about you.


You need to school her in how to interact with you. By being a role model--not by lecturing her or by calling her out.


When she says, "Your mother is making pancakes this morning," you should *immediately* say, VERY PLEASANTLY, "Good morning, Mom, are you asking me to make pancakes for breakfast? Sounds great! You know, you can just ask me or tell me directly. I'd be happy to make whatever you ask for, but it's so much more pleasant if you actually talk to me directly, instead of making comments to someone else ABOUT me. That feels like such a criticism, and I only just got out of bed. I need to pee and walk the dog, and then I'll be ready to cook those pancakes."

(better yet, get one of the kids to walk the dog, if at all possible, so you can start cooking, since she was hungry)

In these situations, I try to "channel my inner day-care worker." The good ones can hold their temper even in the face of provocation, I think because they regard comments like this as *developmental signposts,* and not as a personal dig.

They'd say, "this is an indication that Mom is hungry, and probably feels frustrated at having to *ask* someone else, in her OWN home, to make a specific food for breakfast. It's an ordinary meal, and it's her house, and so she shouldn't have to feel like she's asking some almighty favor. So I'll just be pleasant to her, because that's what a grownup would do as a response here. And hopefully she'll take the hint about the proper tone to use."

Or they'd assume that she wasn't being snotty (even if they KNEW she was), and then they'd say, "Oh, you want pancakes? Sounds good! I'll make them as soon as I'm done with the morning routine here." in a happy and breezy tone. Just pretend things are the way you WANT them to be, and sort of aggressively act as if they ARE that way, and you may find that they slide over eventually to BE that way, for real.

And they often use the vocabulary or wording that the other party should use. They might even say, "Just say, 'I want pancakes this morning,' and I'll know what to do."

And if you're going to do all the cooking, it might be a good idea to remove as many opportunities for clashing over this sort of stuff by making up a menu for three to four days out, w/ food choices and serving times, and stick to it as best you can. Then there won't BE the opportunity for her to make digs like this, etc.


And remember a couple of things from your mom's point of view.
She probably resents the idea that she should have to ASK for an ordinary meal at [what is for her] an ordinary mealtime in her own home. Especially when she's used to getting up at 6:30 and having autonomy and privacy, and now she doesn't because your family is here.

She probably is sort of instinctively "jabbing at" your family, which has descended upon her home.

But if you can decide that you're the "self-actualized" one, the "aware" one, then you can model the sort of conversations that should happen between considerate and pleasant adults. So just always "play the part" of the pleasant grownup.

Sharnita

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2012, 03:56:59 PM »
Toots brings up good suggestions and good points.  By giving cooking over to you, having you there, adjusting to your schedule even a bit - mom has lost a certain amount of control.  I realize you also have given up control to a degree.  That is going to leave you both feeling a bit vulnerable.

mmswm

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2012, 03:58:30 PM »
Oh, TootsNYC!  Thank you so much!  I like your phrasing a LOT.  It really would go over well with her.  She's not *trying* to be horrible. I know that.  I taught middle school for nearly a decade, so I think "channeling my inner teacher" is a very good idea.  Both you and Bloo suggested planning out a menu several days in advance, and I'm definitely going to do that.  I've already got tonight's dinner cooking, and I do need to go grocery shopping sometime tomorrow, so that makes a perfect opportunity to sit down and discuss menus for the next week.
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)

oogyda

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2012, 03:58:37 PM »
for awhile, I was entirely too sensitive to the PAness of my mother.  I hated that I bought into it and had to do some serious soul searching to come up with some of the answers you've already been given. 

The best being that you have to re-train her in how she interacts with you now that you are an adult and a mother yourself.  Keep in mind, you can't change her....you can only change how you react. 

The funny thing is that by changing YOUR reactions, she has to changer her actions.  It's like a dance.  When one step is changed, the next one must be changed to accomodate it.  Then it becomes a different dance. 

I think you've done well in requesting she ask you a question.  It's very close to what I started doing to change our dance.  Mom was PAly hinting that she wanted the lawn mowed.  I listened to several hints then asked, "Do you want me to mow the lawn?"  She said. "Well, yeah."  like it was the most obvious thing in the world.  I simply said,  "All you had to do is ask."  It took a few times, but she did learn to be more direct with me.  I'm trying to train her to be more direct all the time. 
It's not what we gather along the way that matters.  It's what we scatter.

misha412

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Re: I did not handle this okay and need advise for the future.
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2012, 04:00:59 PM »
Dealing with a PA expert can be frustrating. I was raised by one and still deal with her regularly.

I see that your Mom may be having issues adjusting to you and the kids in the house and you doing all the cooking. However, her actions are not excusable.

An adult should be able to discuss things up front with each other, including what is for breakfast. Maybe you or the kids didn't want pancakes. The question she should have asked the kids is "what sounds good for breakfast?" Or to you, "I think pancakes sound good. What sounds good to you?"

While your mom may rise at 6:30, not everyone does. Plus, you ARE making the effort to get up earlier and adjust to her schedule. Giving you a few minutes to get the cobwebs out of your head and get the dog out is only common courtesy.

Basically making a demand for food 2 minutes after you get out of bed is a bit much. She can adjust her schedule a bit since there is more than just her to consider in the house now. Eating 5 or 10 minutes later than she is used to is not too much to ask when you have kids to deal with and a dog that needs attention first thing.

As suggested by Toots, take the high road and try to guide the conversations to a more adult level with her. It is the only way to handle a PA expert without losing your marbles.