It happens and I have to own it.
Typically, I’m a glass-half full person, able to let many things roll off my back. Until I can’t. Then I get cranky. By the way, being cranky isn’t a bad thing, we all have those moments (or days). But my attitude affects mom’s attitude, and it can turn into a downward spiral quickly if we’re not careful.
I’ve given a lot of thought to this topic, trying to identify the whens and whys and what I can do about these moments. Here is what I’ve realized.
I’m an extravert until I’m an introvert. When I have a busy week networking for work, guests at my house for a couple of days, or just a weekend like this last one with no down time, I need space and quiet time. When a mom weekend comes at the tail end of insanity, it makes it hard because I AM her social interaction. What I must do is tell her what I need, up front that first night. “Mom I’m wiped out. Can we just be together tonight, and deal with the list of things for me to do tomorrow?” Having this conversation instead of giving her monosyllabic answers goes a long way to keeping our relationship on an even keel.
I’ve come to realize that I have certain hot buttons. It’s on me to tell mom about them up front so she doesn’t mistakenly push them. For example, finding out something has been a problem for a while (her chair in the kitchen), but she didn’t want to bother me with it. Suddenly it became a crisis that we had to deal with immediately. Her bottom line is not wanting to be a burden, so she may wait to tell about a problem. But dealing with something before it’s a crisis goes a long way with me. Now mom makes a list, we talk about it, prioritize together, and work on things based on criteria, safety being number one.
I have the right to set boundaries and stick by them. Sometimes I don’t even know it is a boundary issue until I can feel the hair on the back of my neck go up. Or I let it happen and then get angry about it. This one is hard because my reflex is to snap a quick, heated reply that makes mom feel like I’m snapping her head off. I’m learning to take a breath and not answer right away. I strive for an internal dialogue before answering. “Is this a safety issue? If not, can it wait?”
Sometimes I’m just in a bad mood. There I said it. Other times I get frustrated with mom and that puts me in a bad mood. Either way, I feel guilty because it results in her feeling badly and we don’t enjoy our time together. But getting frustrated and angry with mom is nothing new. It happened all the time growing up. What is new, is that I am her caregiver. And that adds a different layer to our relationship. The bottom line is it is on me to own when I’m being cranky, tell mom what is going on, take space if I need it and apologize if I’m taking my bad mood out on her.
Oh, and by the way, I ask the same of her.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.