Q. Twenty years ago, I lost my job and couldn’t find another one. My savings ran out, and bit by bit, I hocked everything until I was left with only the clothes on my back. My mother had a three-bedroom house, but she was dating for the first time since my father died, and when I asked if I could stay with her until I was on my feet, she said it wasn’t “a good idea,” as “Ed” sometimes spent the night. I stayed with friends, moving from week to week to avoid wearing out my welcome.
With nowhere to turn, I joined the military. The soonest I could leave for boot camp was four months. To tide me over, I got a job at a fast-food restaurant. I had run through all of my friends’ couches and needed a place to stay for just three days until I got my first paycheck. Mom said that even for that short period of time it wasn’t “convenient” for me to stay with her. For three nights, I slept in a field.
Today, I have my own home and a good job. Mom now lives in an independent living complex. She is quickly reaching the point where she will no longer be able to live on her own. What shall I say when she asks why I won’t let her live with me?
A. I would tell her “it’s not convenient” and perhaps she should call Ed. I totally understand where you’re coming from. I have always thought we earn the treatment we get in life. Don’t spend a minute feeling guilty. This is a selfish woman with seemingly no motherly instincts.
Q. My husband and I had our first child six months ago. I work from home and have a relatively flexible schedule, so I’m able to care for the baby during the week with some help from friends and family. My mother works part time and offered to cover one day a week to help out. However, since she started, she has complained to anyone who will listen about how far of a drive it is. She also has made other negative comments about the effort she’s making and what she could be doing instead. The situation came to a head recently when she claimed that my husband and I did not show enough appreciation.
Needless to say, I suggested we end the once-a-week arrangement. In a mildly “colorful” conversation, I told her it was difficult to bend over backward thanking her when she is constantly complaining.
Two weeks later, we drove to my parents’ town for my 30th birthday dinner, and she didn’t show up — only my father did. I’m at a loss as to how to end the family drama.
A. You did the right thing by bagging the weekly granny duty. (Her loss; I would give anything to be within a car ride of “my” new baby.) Your mother’s childish behavior will either fade into the background or it won’t. I am guessing you could live without the drama quite nicely.