Mother’s Day Muddle

3 May

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADear LetterBalm: Mother’s Day is coming up next week, and the whole family is dreading it. Our mother demands that we honor her. There’s tension because, in simple terms, she doesn’t deserve it. She’s been verbally abusive, selfish and manipulative as long as we can remember. She’s spread terrible lies to her children and her sister and continues to criticize every aspect of everyone’s lives. She drove our dad into an early grave. Even though we four siblings are grown, it’s hard to get past the way she treated everyone. We try to see Mom infrequently, but this is a command performance. My brother and sisters want to stop the Mother’s Day charade and tell her why. I say just do it and get it over with. How can I convince them?

–The Mediator

Face facts: If your mother’s behavior is any indication, ignoring her on her special day will cause enough toxic fallout to clear the Brazilian rainforest. You see your mom at other times in the year, yes? Ms. L.B. wants to know if by now the family hasn’t established some kinds of minimum rituals that keep her happy and everyone else able to live with themselves. For Mother’s Day, buy her flowers or a corsage, take her for a lovely Sunday dinner at a nice restaurant, buy her a favorite box of chocolates, or whatever you normally do. If she demands more – a family cruise or a pricey gift, for instance – be ready with a neutral excuse as to why you can’t do it. You need to convince your siblings that riling up mom is a battle not worth fighting:

About the Mother’s Day thing with Mom, I know we all feel like hypocrites because Mom doesn’t really deserve our attention. But it will be worse for us and the grandkids if we don’t do it. We all know what she’s capable of. We’re lucky that the four of us have overcome what she’s done to us, and we’ve grown into good adults and parents. That’s what I mean – we are the functioning adults, she’s the dysfunctional one. That’s always been the case, and we know it. We see her only when it’s unavoidable. I say we continue to do so, even though it’s not an ideal solution. I don’t want to keep having this discussion, and I think you agree. What do you say?

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