jmgoyder

wings and things

Priorititis

Ming and I have very different priorities which is not unusual in a mother and son relationship. This means that he has had a rather bemused, and sometimes annoyed, attitude to the last few weeks of what I have decided to call my “house to home” project. And, due to his man-of-the-house attitude we have had a fair few power wrangles.

So I didn’t tell him that I had booked a lovely couple who run a business called ‘Household heroes’ to clean the windows inside and out. When I accidentally let it slip that they were coming on Monday, he became angry and this was our rather fraught conversation:

Ming: Why didn’t you tell me?
Me: I thought we agreed last week that I was the boss.
Ming: Well, why didn’t you ask me to do the windows? I should be doing it!
Me: Because you’re working full time and actually I think I did ask you.
Ming: No you didn’t!
Me: Well, maybe I hinted that we could do it together?
Ming: Why don’t we then?
Me: So do you want me to cancel the window cleaning people and we do it ourselves tomorrow?
Ming: But tomorrow is my day off! I want to have fun!
Me: In that case, could we do it together next week?
Ming: What’s your problem with the windows anyway, Mum?
Me: They’re dirty.
Ming: So?
Me: I want them to be clean.
Ming: Why?
Me: Because they always used to be clean and now they have been dirty for three years!
Ming: So?
Me: Okay so you want me to ask you to help me with the windows but you don’t really want to and you don’t care that the windows are dirty?
Ming: I don’t care at all!
Me: In that case, I won’t cancel the window cleaners, okay?
Ming: Fine then!

Yes, Ming and I have quite a lot of these circular conversations but, in the end, we can usually stifle our different priorities in order to watch Game of Thrones in the evening.

So the window cleaners came on Monday and did the most fantastic job over nearly four hours, Dina and I decluttered the wash house at the same time, and Ming skedaddled!

The following photos are not remarkable in themselves; what is remarkable is that they are all taken through clean windows. Hurray!

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The thing is, I do understand Ming’s feelings of alarm at all of this tidying up because I guess he has become used to a mother (me) who has been sort of stuck for so long that he has forgotten the lightning speed with which I used to get things done – ha!

And tonight he is making dinner for me! Hopefully this will become a new priority for the Ming – gotta love him!

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“I just don’t understand you!”

Ming and I had a couple of altercations today that were impossible to resolve. This is so frustrating and painful and yet it points to the fact that we all think and feel differently and trying to match someone else’s way of doing both is impossible.

So what on earth do you do with irreconcilable differences? How does a 20-year-old son understand a 55-year-old mother who is trying to understand a 78-year-old husband? The only way, I think, is to accept the different points of view about everything, to accept each other (despite these differences), and to develop a capacity for sympathy. Empathy would be better, of course, but if the other person just cannot fit their great big size 13 feet (Ming) into your shoes, then agreeing to disagree is your best option.

I have always loved the concept of difference but I have never had it thrust in my face as much as the last few years, with Anthony’s declining health and Ming’s growing up. Neither of them understand that, at the center of this dynamic (in terms of age alone), I struggle sometimes to give them both what they need or want. And neither of them even think, unless I remind them (rather vociferously sometimes), that I might actually want to be considered too.

Perhaps love doesn’t require understanding? I am not complaining here (well maybe a bit!), or posing a feminist argument (hell, no – most of the misunderstandings I’ve experienced have been with women); I am just observing that sometimes you just have to accept the fact that you will never agree with the other person.

But you can still hug them and keep your “you are wrong!” thoughts to yourself. Ask Godfrey the gander!

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A conversation between a 20-year-old son and his 50ish mother about washing the dishes

Me: We need to talk about the dishes.
Ming: I don’t care about the dishes.
Me: I want them washed; after all, they are mostly your dishes.
Ming: Ask me then!
Me: Why should I have to ask you when it is quite obvious that there are dishes on the sink that need washing?
Ming: It isn’t a priority for me; I want to clean the windows.
Me: I don’t care about the windows at the moment – I care about the dishes.
Ming: Well, I asked you if you wanted me to do the dishes this morning and you said it was okay not to.
Me: That’s only because I wanted you to do it anyway.
Ming: So I am supposed to read your mind?
Me: No, you are supposed to have a bit of initiative. If something needs to be done, then do it!
Ming: Well, write me a list, Mum.
Me: But why can’t you just simply see what needs doing, and do it?
Ming: Because I can’t.
Me: Well we will just have to agree to disagree won’t we!
Ming: I don’t know, Mum – you are so difficult sometimes!
Me: Sigh!

The above was a rather rowdy exchange today about a few dishes, which escalated into a bit of a war of utter miscommunication, diatribe, then, finally reconciliation (with a caveat to not mention the dishes again!)

In the meantime, my prodigal (anti-dishes son) cleaned all of the outside windows, which is a massive job, and we sat down at the kitchen table to make lists of chores. This little chore-meeting didn’t go particularly well because we were arrowing our foreheads against each other quite boppily until Ming suggested a hug (a few hours later!)

And then he said, “Mum, I am on your side, I am your best friend, I am sorry we don’t understand each other and, at the moment, I hate your guts but I still love you.”

Perhaps it is a male/female thing – initiative? I don’t know but one thing for sure is that, now that my hands are nearly better from this stupid pompholyx I will not be mentioning dishes again. After all, our Ming is doing everything else in his power to keep things on an even keel, including me.

So I salute my brat!

59 Comments »

When things go wrong

This morning, on our way to town, Ming and I had a ferocious argument, with him yelling and me shrieking and both of us swearing and me crying.

Our first stop was the chemist so I left Ming in the car, slammed the door, wiped my eyes and went in to get a few things with a big fake smile on my face. It took awhile for a couple of prescriptions to be filled so I went back to the car to find Ming with silent tears rolling down his cheeks. I got into the car and sobbed an apology which was reciprocated, then we just sat in silence for a few minutes, staring dully though the windscreen.

Then we began to talk:

Ming: There is something wrong with me. I’m ruining your life.
Me: There is nothing wrong with you and you are not ruining my life.
Ming: Then why does this keep happening?
Me: Because you keep losing your temper with me and I keep overreacting.
Ming: I just want to make things perfect and it never works.
Me: Yes, and that includes me?
Ming: Yes, well, no – I just want you to be happy.
Me: Well I just want you to be happy too. But you are a bully!
Ming: I think we should go back to counselling.
Me: I agree.
Ming: Sometimes when I wake up, I just want to go back to sleep.
Me: Same here.
Ming: I want to be a child again.
Me: So do I, sort of.
Ming: Am I really harder for you than Dad?
Me: Physically, no, mentally, yes – emotionally, about the same.
Ming: But I’m only trying to help.
Me: By nagging me, reprimanding me, trying to control me, yelling at me?
Ming: You said we’d leave today at 11am.
Me: So we left at 11.10am – was that a tragedy?
Ming: No, but you’re always letting me down – you never want to leave the house.
Me: I’m having a bad time with lethargy.
Ming: Same here.
Me: So we need a plan of attack. From now on we will make a daily plan for each day. We’ll do one chore together and one separately, schedule it into the day and allocate a definite time. Neither of us is allowed to renege or be late. We’ll write tomorrow’s plan tonight and sign it like a contract.
Ming: That’s what I’ve been saying for ages, Mum – teamwork!
Me: Okay, I don’t particularly like that word but yes, you are right.
Ming: Shake hands then?
Me: Okay.

We went on and did the rest of our town errands and got home smiling. I feel terrible about the horrible, cruelly sarcastic things I said to Ming, and for screaming at him like a psycho, and he feels terrible for his control-freaky temper, but maybe we had to have this crash in order to wake up.

I am hopeful.

71 Comments »

Negative comments

In over a year, and hundreds of posts, I have been fortunate not to have received any negative comments on the blog. Until today.

The negative comment was uttered in response to my post about ‘doing the right thing’ yesterday.

It was personal, exclamatory and gave me a bit of a shock because I am so fond of this person.

Strangely, I welcomed the comment (better to get a negative comment from a friend rather than a stranger I guess), and, instead of deleting it, I decided to respond and make both comments public.

This has made me very curious about how other bloggers respond to negative comments. Do tell!

105 Comments »

Enough is enough

I have been struggling to write about somethingĀ for a couple of days because, despite the fact that I am fine with being honest and open about stuff in this blog, on Sunday our family situation became, for me, unbearable and IĀ gave up. I couldn’t write about it except metaphorically (the ‘despair’ post for eg.)

That’s what happens, I think, when you have been enoughed enough – ha! But, on Sunday night, I realized that being this cringing wimp wasn’t helping so I gave up giving up and got angry instead.

I became Godzilla and it was very satisfying! I said NO, I said I am the boss, not you, I said enough is enough.

The teenager from hell suddenly reverted to his usual angelic personality and it has now lasted 48 hours. There is hope.

47 Comments »