Author Topic: Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective? Pseudo-update  (Read 8691 times)

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Figgie

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2013, 12:17:32 PM »
I would take everything your Mom says only and strictly at face value.  If she offers you a drink and you want it, thank her for getting you the drink.  Do that immediately after she offers before she can ask you to go and get it for her/everyone. 

Make sure that the thank you includes the getting it for you part...something like:  "Thanks so much, Mom!  I appreciate you getting up and getting that for me!"

If after she offers, you accept and thank her, she still asks you to do the work, I would then decide if I wanted the drink badly enough to fix and bring drinks to her.  If I did, I would get up and fix drinks for her and if I didn't, I would tell her that I changed my mind about that drink.

That way you take back the control.  If you want the drink enough so that you are willing to serve her one as well, then you made the decision to do that.  If you don't want the drink that badly, then you tell her that you have changed your mind.  If she pesters you to get her a drink even though you aren't having one, I would just keep repeating "no thank you, Mom" and then bean dip.

weeblewobble

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2013, 02:33:50 PM »
I was talking about this with my mom and she had a question for you, Amasi.  Does your mom tend to this around other people more often than not?  Or around certain people?  She asked because when she was a kid, her aunt "Tildy" would boss her oldest daughter, "Mildred," around like a servant, barking near constant commands whenever Mom and grandma visited them. 

As soon as Mom and grandma arrived: "Mildred!  Take everyone's jackets and hang them up!"
When they were seated: "Mildred! Pour everyone a cold drink!"
If they ran out of the snack that Mildred thoughtfully plated along with the drinks: "Mildred!  We're out of cookies!  Go to the kitchen and get more!"

And on and on it went until Mom and grandma left.  When they were teens, Mom asked Mildred whether Aunt Tildy always bossed her around that way.  (Mom was just about ready to hide Mildred under her coat and sneak her home with her.)  Mildred said no, that Aunt Tildy only bossed her around this way when Mom and grandma were visiting or certain friends and the friends' daughters.  Mildred noted that Aunt Tildy didn't approve of the way Mom behaved, same with the certain friends' daughters.  Aunt Tildy thought they were too rambunctious and disobedient, so Mildred's theory was that Aunt Tildy was trying to show my grandmother (and her own friends) how "well-trained" her own daughter was. 

Could it be that your mom is flexing her muscles in a similar fashion?  Like she's trying to demonstrate that you may be grown up, but she can still control you?

ETA: Cousin Mildred put up with the behavior until she moved out.  When she went back to visit, her mother would try to "bring her back to heel" by barking more orders at her.  But Mildred would simply smile at her and say, "Mom, I don't live here anymore.  I'm a guest.  Surely you don't expect a guest in your home to fetch you cookies and tea."

Aunt Tildy wasn't a particularly pleasant person.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 02:37:46 PM by weeblewobble »

Margo

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2013, 03:06:47 PM »
I think you've had some good advice here. You  mentioned in your Op that your partner was with you - can you enlist his help? For instance, if your mom offers coffee, waits until you, your bf, and your dad all say yes, then asks you to get it, could he jump in and offer?

It might help change the dynamic.

I absolutely don't think you're being unreasonable or petty - it would really annoy me too

lurkerwisp

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2013, 03:51:16 PM »
"Mom, I don't live here anymore.  I'm a guest.  Surely you don't expect a guest in your home to fetch you cookies and tea."

This sounds just about perfect.  :D

TootsNYC

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2013, 04:02:33 PM »
I have to tell you, I don't quite consider myself to be a guest in my parents' home, no matter how many years it's been since I lived there.

I wouldn't necessarily consider my grown daughter to be a guest in my home when she comes home for a visit. (she's not grown yet, but nearly)

I consider adult children to be in a state in between.

However, I would never just order her to get her own drink once I'd offered it. I might say, "Do you want a soda?" and after she says yes, realize that my hands are busy. In which case I'd say, "Would you get it? I'm sorry, I'm stuck here with the roast, I didn't think. Would you get me one?"

Or I'd say, "Do you want something to drink?" and then say, "Would you bring the sodas up from the garage?"

I'd expect her to be helpful and willing in both of those situations--I'd be floored beyond words if I asked for her help (even if I didn't say "please") if she announced she was a guest.

But then again, I wouldn't be ordering her around like a servant. (I'd speak more nicely to a servant anyway, even if I was essentially issuing orders.)

LadyDyani

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2013, 07:27:09 PM »
I consider adult children to be in a state in between.

This.  I wouldn't drop by my parent's house without being invited, or at least calling them first, and I don't ask about grabbing a cookie from the cookie jar, or a soda from the fridge. And I'm perfectly comfortable with curling up on the couch with a book while mom plays a game on the computer and dad watches TV. If I need an ibuprofen or something, I will ask first, because those are in my parent's room, and even when I lived at home we didn't wander in there alone.  :-)
English doesn't borrow from other languages, it follows them down dark alleys and beats them up and searches their pockets for loose grammar.

weeblewobble

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2013, 07:35:31 PM »
I have to tell you, I don't quite consider myself to be a guest in my parents' home, no matter how many years it's been since I lived there.

I wouldn't necessarily consider my grown daughter to be a guest in my home when she comes home for a visit. (she's not grown yet, but nearly)

I consider adult children to be in a state in between.

However, I would never just order her to get her own drink once I'd offered it. I might say, "Do you want a soda?" and after she says yes, realize that my hands are busy. In which case I'd say, "Would you get it? I'm sorry, I'm stuck here with the roast, I didn't think. Would you get me one?"

Or I'd say, "Do you want something to drink?" and then say, "Would you bring the sodas up from the garage?"

I'd expect her to be helpful and willing in both of those situations--I'd be floored beyond words if I asked for her help (even if I didn't say "please") if she announced she was a guest.

But then again, I wouldn't be ordering her around like a servant. (I'd speak more nicely to a servant anyway, even if I was essentially issuing orders.)

From what I could gather, Mildred was trying to put emotional and social distance between her mom and herself.   By relegating herself as a guest, she was reducing the intimacy between them, which is something that needed to happen.  You don't bark orders at people unless there's a certain amount of emotional enmeshing.  I think it was Mildred's way of saying, "I'm not longer in your circle of influence."

TootsNYC

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #22 on: April 24, 2013, 10:01:44 PM »
That makes total sense. It *is* a "distancing" sort of phrase; I'd feel pushed away if my kid said it to me.

Danika

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2013, 03:22:12 AM »
I have a feeling this more about control and feeling like she has won than the tea and cokes.  If she gets you to do what she wants, she wins. She gets to feel like the status quo of your original household is returned to balance, you haven't grown up, she hasn't gotten older and she is the pampered mother again.  And she knows exactly what she's doing and that it is annoying/upsetting to you, otherwise she wouldn't pull the bait and switch tactics.

POD


...My problem isn't being asked to help, or being asked to look after myself regarding refreshments, it's feeling "tricked" and manipulated and as if I've been used to host for her/get something she wants under the guise of giving me something. If I were asked directly to help or get a drink for her, that would be perfect and I'd be happy to! My goal is not to avoid doing any work, just to be asked respectfully :)

I totally get where you're coming from. My late grandmother used to do this to all of her children and grandchildren. What I resented was the fact that she thought she was outsmarting me or one-upping me. For example, she'd invite you over, you'd say yes, and then she'd say "On your way over, stop at the store and buy me X." I was a little girl, she was healthy and able-bodied and in her 50s and I remember her doing it to my family. We'd be all dressed in fancy clothes and on our way to her house for dinner and we'd all have to stop at the grocery store to buy her toilet paper, while dressed up.

When I was an adult, if she'd invite me to something, DH (then, boyfriend) would say "Oh, that's nice." And I'd tell him "No, we have to say no, because for that 1 hour of X event, we're going to spend an extra 5 hours helping her do A, B, and C. She will suggest that we go to lunch. She won't pay, so we'll have to buy her lunch. At a restaurant she chooses. And we'll be running other errands for her later, etc..."

It was like playing a chess game. You couldn't take anything at face value. You had to think 5 moves ahead to prevent being check-mated. You had to imagine all the different ways that grandma was going to thwart your attempts at just having a short, nice visit. And imagine all the different favors she was going to ask. Then, that ended up controlling what you wanted to do. Maybe you wanted to drive the 4-seater car that day, but you figured she might spring a few extra guests on you. "Oh, you don't mind giving a ride to these people, do you?" So you have to plan to take the 2-seater car so it's just you and grandma, for example.

OP, in your case, you end up having to drink 1 liter of water before each visit with your mother so that you don't go thirsty because you plan to decline each and every drink she offers you. Then, you're still being controlled, because who wants to drink so much ahead of time, planning not to drink later.

I think it is a power play. I think she gets some satisfaction from making you "lesser" or act like a servant. Maybe you have achieved a higher level of education than she has and she's jealous, for example. So she feels superior when she does this.

I think you can address it head on, politely, like a PP suggested. But if this is a power play, as I suspect, your mother will deny it. She'll tell you that you're too sensitive and you need to stop overreacting. And that she's not asking that much.

After you've addressed it politely and honestly a couple of times, then I'd draw firmer boundaries.

In your shoes, I would decline. Whenever she says "Can you feed the cats?" I'd reply "No. Sorry. I'm here for a visit. Not to feed your cats." And if she argues, I'd say "They're your responsibility" and then walk over to your boyfriend or other guests and join their conversation. If she says "Fix me a Coke, too" I'd say "No thanks." That'll confuse her. Then onlookers think you're still being polite because you threw the word "thanks" in there. And if they do join her bandwagon and say you're being harsh, you can then say to them "Then, you fix her the Coke." And after a few interactions like that, end the event early and leave. Say "you invited me here. Clearly, it was not for dinner, it was for me to serve you. Have a nice evening. Bye." And leave.

And then only meet her at restaurants or the mall or neutral locations for a while.

Pen^2

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2013, 04:05:47 AM »
^POD.

This. "No, thanks" when she tells you to do things like this. A request for help? Fine, as you've said. An order that she is perfectly capable of carrying out, but is fixated on getting you to do even at her own inconvenience? Not okay. Talk with her firmly but politely first, as she might just not realise it, but chances are she'll default to denial, and you'll need to do more.

If she offers you a drink, preparing for a bait-and-switch, I'd start responding with things like, "yes a coke, and thanks to offer to get it for me," or something similar. This makes her look out of line when she has to be more blatant with, "no, I wanted you to get me a drink!". You can look confused, and ask her why she asked a completely different question in the first place. If she eventually phrases her request properly, you can then default to the "no thanks". She might learn from this.

Otherwise, I'd up and leave if she treats you as a servant when she's invited you in the first place. "I'm the host, but you can get us all some drinks!" "No, thanks, I just arrived and wanted to catch up with father first/whatever excuse comes to mind." "Well, that's so rude of you! *badger*" "Oh, sorry, I thought I was invited over as a guest. If I'd known you just wanted me a waitress, I would have known not to come." and leave. Probably phrase things a little more tactfully, but you get the idea.

You're going to need to grow a spine and not let her push you over at any point during these little interactions (give an inch and all that). And you'll need to be prepared to leave at a moment's notice.

Are your boyfriend or other family members explicitly aware of what's going on? I.e. that you are being singled out for this, and that your mother offers people things and then randomly decides that you have to do it? Your family might be too used to it to notice, but does your boyfriend find it odd?

bopper

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #25 on: April 25, 2013, 10:09:04 AM »


If she offers you a drink, preparing for a bait-and-switch, I'd start responding with things like, "yes a coke, and thanks to offer to get it for me," or something similar.

or "Yes, I would love a coke. That is so sweet of you!" then if she asks you to get them, she is no longer sweet.

TootsNYC

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #26 on: April 25, 2013, 10:15:10 AM »
Maybe you can also say, when she does this sort of thing, "Mom, I'd appreciate it if you'd ask me directly; I'm happy to help you."

Every time--a sort of cut-and-paste technique which makes all the onlookers (including her) realize that something is being repeated. It might help her to realize what she's doing.

Amasi

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #27 on: April 25, 2013, 04:38:15 PM »
Maybe you can also say, when she does this sort of thing, "Mom, I'd appreciate it if you'd ask me directly; I'm happy to help you."

Every time--a sort of cut-and-paste technique which makes all the onlookers (including her) realize that something is being repeated. It might help her to realize what she's doing.
'

Yes, I'm thinking of using something like this, repeated every time it happens. It fits my personal communication style - which is to be pretty direct. The challenge will be to keep it up consistently.

My boyfriend isn't yet aware of the problem (unless he's unusually observant  :)), he's only just met my parents. Nobody in my family has commented on it, so I'm not sure if they realise it's still a problem or not - I think it would be hard for them not to be aware that it was an issue. I also did think of talking about it with my Dad and see if he could help, perhaps by talking to her himself, but I wonder if that's a step in the wrong direction.

JoyinVirginia

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #28 on: April 25, 2013, 05:10:15 PM »
In my family, my dh and I would treat it add a joke and also keep count of the number of times she asks for a drink or something while there. Bet on it, make it a game!
When mom asks if you want a drink, just get up with a heavy sigh and say”I don't want anything but I know you do, just tell me what you want.”
Or you could always bring a water bottle with you and always say ” no drink for me, i'm good!” While waving your bottle in the air.

Danika

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Re: May I borrow a cup of perspective?
« Reply #29 on: April 25, 2013, 07:21:11 PM »
I also did think of talking about it with my Dad and see if he could help, perhaps by talking to her himself, but I wonder if that's a step in the wrong direction.

It couldn't hurt. At least, it would warn him that if you were to leave abruptly, that would be why.

My entire life, my mother would comment on my weight. Generally, I was either at a healthy weight or at most 5lbs overweight. But my mother would like to watch what I put on my plate and then say loudly "Oh, don't use that much butter. Butter makes you fat" and "You'd better do more lettuce and less salad dressing. Salad dressing is for piggies" that type of thing. Every. Single. Time. I saw her, she had something like that to say. But if you didn't take enough food, she'd yell at you for not eating everything on your plate and that she cooked so much and you weren't even appreciating it. I kept telling her to knock it off. Even in my late 20s, she was still doing it. And it was especially embarrassing in front of other people.

Finally, one time, I was about 33 at this point, I called and said "Mom, if you mention my weight, or fat people, or butter, or how many rolls I'm eating or anything that has to do with size or calories, I will leave immediately." She said "Oh, you're overreacting. You're too sensitive." I cut her off. I said "I don't care what you say, if you say one tiny single thing or even give me a snide face as I'm putting food on my plate, I will set the plate down and leave." Then, I got my father on the phone and told him what was going on.

He's good at pretending he doesn't notice things, so he seemed shocked when I told him "For the last 25+ years of my life, mom has called me fat every single time she's seen me, at every single meal and every single new outfit she's seen me in." And I added "if she does it one more time, I will get in my car and end the visit." When he tried to say "Well, your mother means well" I said "I don't care what she means. I'm sick of it. I don't comment on her weight. Or her haircolor. Or anything else."

I guess they both realized that I was serious. After years of telling her to stop doing it falling on deaf ears, she finally did stop doing it.