Thursday, June 21, 2007

Going Home

I have been spending the last few weeks mentally preparing myself for the trip home we are taking today. The trip to Indiana itself is no picnic, but we are splitting it up and staying in a hotel tonight. Genna is just not much of a traveller and tends to make long trips sheer hell with her screaming and kicking of seats. We are renting a minivan in order to give all of us room to stretch out. We won't hear a peep out of Ella, unless she wants snacks, because she'll be in the third row with the DVD player and a lifetime supply of princess and fairy-themed movies. I'll be in the middle row with Genna trying to read my book and ignoring the fact that she is drawing on the windows, the upholstery and herself with washable markers. When she gets bored with that, I'll let her start eating Play-Doh. When that looses its appeal, I'll have to actually entertain her.

We had initially planned to fly, but the thought of the guaranteed delays and probable cancellations with two children and a cranky husband made me think that it would probably take just as long to do the driving ourselves. I started to imagine my last trip home to see Mom in February and couldn't imagine how I would cope with an experience like that again, much less with the girls and Herr. While I have very little patience on a good day, my husband's patience has disappeared over the years at the same pace as his hair. He's bald.

We are spending the first part of the trip visiting my mother. I have been talking to Mom twice a week for months, and every single time, she has asked me what the travel plans are. Yesterday, she called me twice while I was at work and left voice mails on my cell phone:

"I'm just calling to see if you guys are on the road. I can't wait to see you, but I really want to see the babies. I'm so excited."

I called her back the first time to remind her AGAIN that we were not leaving until Thursday. It was clearly news to her. I didn't bother to call her back when she called the second time a few hours later and left a nearly identical message. I told my friend Lorrie that I am probably going to end up taking whatever alcohol my mother is drinking these days and bring it back to her place to drink myself. If it turns out that this isn't an alcohol issue, then my sister and I obviously have a larger issue on our hands.

Based on her phone calls from yesterday, it is pretty clear that she has also forgotten my little chat with her about NOT overdoing it when we get there (ie: letting the girls crawl all over her, deciding to cook a seven-course meal, or starting to clean the apartment that hasn't been touched since I visited in February.) This always happens. Even though our visits will be in small two-hour increments, I guarantee that she will be so exhausted on Saturday, that she will sleep all day. There won't be anyplace for the girls to play because my mom's closet of an apartment is full of landmines like scissors, lighters, medications and other sharp and poisonous things. Last year she "childproofed" her apartment with hilarious results.

The trip won't be stressful the entire time--when we aren't cleaning Mom's apartment or attempting to have a serious discussion about her finances or the need to move into an assisted living situation,we will visit friends and stay with friends of mine who have older kids whom the girls adore. We'll go to Lake Michigan. We'll go to Redamaks (every night if Herr has his way.)

We'll head to Bloomington on Tuesday and stay the remainder of the week with Herr's mom. It will be waaaaaay different. I won't have to worry about the girls' safety, there will be no need to find things to do to entertain the girls for hours on end, and we'll probably get to have a date night because Grandma will babysit. And even though I will ultimately have a good time, I know that, deep down, I am going to be angry that I can't control my mother's fate, and sad that she has gotten as bad as she has. And she won't let us help her.


Arwen said...

I spent years in therapy grappling with the same problem you have
I am going to be angry that I can't control my mother's fate and I still grapple with it 12 years after my father died (he collapsed on the street with no ID...I got to identify him on my 24th birthday...awesome birthday present). I still go back to this idea that if he loved me more he wouldn't have done that to himself. I wonder if he had met Noodle (my daughter) maybe he would have turned it around. I don't understand why he was so weak. And in part I blame myself for his self-destruction.
This is, unfortunately, what growing up as a child of an alcoholic does. You are great because you haven't written her off and you aren't enabling her. Finding that balance is really hard, I never did that while my father was alive.

candace said...

I hope things go as well as they can, given the circumstances. And I really, really hope the girls travel well for you.

MetroDad said...

Good luck dealing with your mom, Misfit. I know, at this age, these are the types of conversations that we all dread having. But I hope you have a great trip, travel safely, and enjoy your time with friends and family!

M&Co. said...

I'm sorry HF. I often dread getting together with my family too and they live here in town.

Granny said...

I saw your comment on Arwen's post and came over to lend my support.

My birth mother died a practicing alcoholic. It reached the point where I had to stop seeing her before it destroyed both us.

She wanted a drinking buddy and I wouldn't do it. She wouldn't believe I couldn't drink with her - it would have forced her to confront herself and that she couldn't do.

Yes, I get it.


wordgirl said...

I remember as my mother struggled with her aging parents inabilities/unwillingness to face the realities of their situation and I listened as she promised me that she wouldn't let herself be unreasonable as an old person. Of course, she either doesn't remember saying those things or she doesn't think she's being hard to deal with, but she is. She refuses to get a hearing test even though she needs one desperately and she NEVER wears her glasses because she thinks they make her look old. Nope, she'd just rather squint and miss half of our conversation. I'm very frustrated, but it's nothing compared to what you're having to go through. Good luck, Hausfrau!

The June Cleaver Diaries said...

It's amazing how both of our mother's--- and Chris's--- have self-destructed by choice.

Call me.

cape buffalo said...

sending big, big hugs.

standing still said...

What I learned when my mother made the choices that she did which shortened her life entirely (cigarettes while on oxygen and gin, starting at 7:30 a.m.)... her normal is different than mine. She lived in crazy normal. While my normal life feels a little crazy now and then, the choices I make aren't killing me. When they do, and that feels normal ... that's crazy normal.
Pop over to standing still if you need to. Our paths are amazingly similar.