Monday, November 17, 2008

Talk To Me, Like (Mothers) Do

Conversation With My Mom. A Play in One Act.

*Ring* *Ring* (Ok, that's not necessarily accurate, since I actually have a ringtone on my cellphone, but I'm not going to write down the lyrics to "Sunshine of My Love" (which makes a GREAT ringtone by the way), so let's all just agree to suspend disbelief and agree to this: someone is calling me. And if you read the sentence above, I have a sneaking suspicion you might know who it is.).

Looking down at the phone, I see it's my Mom (yup, you guessed it). I'm on Amtrak, taking the train home to Baltimore from DC after having a couple of drinks after work. I try to weigh if the combination of two glasses of Chardonnay and being in a public place where screaming hysterically on the phone is woefully inappropriate provide sufficient insulation to deal with whatever my Mom has to say. The loving embrace of the wine makes the scales tipsy, and as I press the green button on my phone, I find myself feeling especially benevolent and patient.

"Hi Mom. How are you? How was France?"

"Hi Honey, I'm good. France was wonderful. [Blah blah blah...France...blah blah]. By the way, I called your Cousin in the Virgin Islands - did you hear they were hit by a hurricane?"

"No, I didn't see it on the news here."

"Yes, they're all right, thankfully. We found out about it the day after we got back from France."

"OK, good - I'm glad they're ok."

"Oh, by the way, I know you don't talk to Cousin that much, but just don't mention that we were in France."

"Uhm, ok, but why??"

"Oh, I don't know. I just don't think they need to know."

"But Mom, that is so random. I don't understand. Why?"

"Not everyone needs to know everything, E&E." I feel like I'm in a science fiction movie and I need to solve the riddle my Mother is saying to exit the rabbit hole. While I'm scratching my head in total bewilderment and wondering if The Matrix might hold a key to this puzzle, she goes on to say, "I got the invitation to your Wedding Shower."

Relieved I can stop thinking about Neo and Alice in Wonderland and how terrible I am at problem solving in general, I responding with an exuberant, "Me too! I think they're really pretty!"

"They're very cute. [She pauses.] By the way you should call Auntie Hostess [i.e., the Aunt hosting my shower. Although upon reflection that makes her sound like an Aunt who has a penchant for Ho-Ho's and Twinkies. Now that would be a Shower I could buy in to.]."

"Uhm...why should I call her?"

"Well, it appears that whichever of your friends sent out the invitation didn't have the right address for her and then didn't ask the right address and didn't send her one. I mean I guess they could have asked for the right address and sent one...but well, they just didn't."

[Incredulous. And back in the rabbit hole.] "Wait, I'm confused - how did that happen? I don't understand."

"Well, I don't know dear. But...[SIGH]...I told her that I would bring along my invitation to the Shower in Long Island and just show it to her so she could take a look at it, but then of course she couldn't keep it since I want to keep my invitation so I would have to bring it back to New Jersey."

[Looking around rabbit hole for mint julep to keep me company while I wander through labyrinth.] "So what are you trying to say?"

"Nothing, dear. You asked me why you should call your Aunt and I was just giving you all of the information."

"So are you trying to say you want her to get an invitation sent? - because you could have just asked me to ask my friends to send her an invitation."

[Mother apparently getting frustrated as well.] "I don't know why everything has to be so difficult. I'm just trying to help: you asked me how things were, so I was just telling you the story of what was going on."

"Yes, except that you really just wanted to tell me that my friends did the wrong thing. You could have just said - 'Auntie didn't get an invite. Send her one.' But instead you had to tell me that everything wasn't perfect. Why do you have to give me all of the unnecessary details which are sure to make me feel guilty? [Pausing] So is her address right or wrong on all of the shower invites?"

"I don't know."

"Well, the address she gave is on the invites to the Shower, the directions to the Shower and her wedding invitation - so if you want her to get a wedding invitation, then maybe you should call her and check all this."

"Well I think you should call her."

"She's your friend." [Auntie Hostess is actually a "fake" Aunt who is Mom's friend from college.]

"Well you need to call her and check that the address is right - it's your Shower."

"I don't understand! How did she tell you that she didn't get an invite because her address is wrong, but then she didn't give you her correct address or confirm that the address on the shower invitation is correct? I don't even know what I'm asking her!"

"I don't know, dear."

"I gotta run Mom. I'll talk to Auntie Hostess and get her an invite. We're coming into my station and I need to grab a cab...I'll be in touch tomorrow."

I shut the phone and stare at it, confused as to what happened and with a hankering for a mint-based cocktail. And then I feel guilty for essentially hanging up on my Mom. This is the essence of every conversation we have had for the last nine months. Is this just generational? To me, the point of the conversation was that Auntie didn't get an invite and I should make sure she gets one. But that was tucked away deep within the enigma that is my Mother's double talk. *Sigh* I'm pretty sure if you print out this conversation and hold it up to a mirror it will show you where the holy grail is buried.


ct said...

I just want you to know that I can relate. My boyfriend and I have been ring shopping and I know the proposal is soon...but I'm already having nightmares about conversations such as this one. I'm afraid I'm going to hate her by the end of the planning. And I want a long engagement? Curse me.

americanbride said...

Great story. Me too, can relate to the story. Hope others also do...realize!

Peonies and Polaroids said...

Hmmm, I'm not sure how you managed to decipher what your mum was getting at, I was lost instantly. I guess we get good at getting beneath the layers of crazy mum shit to the actual point they're trying to make after being subjected to it for long enough, even if the innocent bystander is buggered if they know what's going on!

Sezzy said...

Ugh, I went through this with my bestie's shower. Something like her great-uncle's new wife (he was a widow) did not get put on the list for the shower, so I did not send her an invitation. It should have been obvious that this was not my fault since I cannot invite people whose addresses I do not have.

It would have been an easy fix, had I known. Instead, said "new great-aunt" showed up at the shower pretending to be polite but actually quite peeved and mentioned the fact that she did not receive an invitation at least 12 times.

I sympathize, girl. Have a mojito on me!

Leah said...

This is how we turn into our mothers. We have to translate "mom speak" into "person speak" and end up doing it so often and so well that we start speaking "mom speak" as a first language.

I couldn't translate this statement to my mom. Talk about rabbit hole. :-)

sam said...

I thought mothers were supposed to get easier to deal with, and nicer, and more understanding, as we get older? No? Sorry to tell you I feel your pain, even though my wedding is far in the past - they don't stop with the doublespeak, backhanded compliments, and other annoyances after the wedding! Just think, once you recover from the wedding and start working on babies ("finally...really, we've been waiting long enough for grandchildren from you, darling") you can look forward to them planning ("but not really planning, dear, and certainly not meddling, just trying to be helpful, even though you never say thank you, you little snippet") the baby shower, birth, announcements, bris, birthdays, discipline, feeding and diapering, going-back-to-work, etc. The fun never ends...

Kristy said...

Wow. That sounds exactly like a conversation I'd have with my mom. I've probably had conversations like that with her already. I know I've been told "Don't mention anything to So-and-So about this thing. So-and-so doesn't need to know everything." Which is just weird.

GreenAihs said...

I'm so glad i found this blog today. I love my fiance. I just wish that we got married on the beach like i wanted to. Not this big stupid 100 person, savings depleting, soul sucking extravaganza that i have to attend. When am I supposed to get excited? Can you let me know because I have no clue and no matter how much Ketel I drink its not helping.

ms. mindless said...

so funny! i just found your blog today and have equally confusing conversations with my mother and grandmother all the time!

Not Your Average Belle said...

That sounds terrible! I would have hung up on my mom too.

Jessica McLeod said...

Mothers are spookily talented at assigning guilt for very unimportant things... :(

Sarah said...

BAHHHAHAHA...funny because it's SO painfully true! Great post!

Buffalo Girl said...

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I googled "I hate wedding planning" the other night after a terrible conversation about "negotiating" (i.e., me losing)guest list issues. Your blog came up and I have been ravenously reading through all of your posts. The FMIL issue is a big connection for me, as is the feeling of being overwhelmed and just generally dreading the circus and pony show. As I'm going backwards, I just got to your therapy post and laughed (which wasn't the first time in reading your well written posts). I am a psychologist and was disappointed but not surprised by your experience. I hope you've returned to her, or at least considered finding someone else. It's all about a good fit - I promise!
Anyway, I appreciate knowing that there is someone else out there who does not feel the bliss of being engaged despite the undying expectation that this process is supposed to feel different.
Looking forward to more!

Sweet T said...

dear god, your mother and mine are from the same Land of Crazy. How, how do they do it?!?

tealengthtulle said...

Oh, honey, i cannot express the depth of my sympathy and understanding. My mother told me, while we were dress shopping, that she spent an entire day crying after i told her i wanted a tea-length dress. She also nearly hung up on me when i told her we'd picked a venue (after vetoing the last one because she said she'd be too "scared" to attend the wedding if it took place on a rooftop. That's entirely enclosed. And on the fourth floor). Anyway -- hang in there. I feel your pain!

Bee said...

My friend just sent me your blog after hearing my "vent" about a conversation I had with my mother about our July wedding. For the last 28 years I have had a great relationship with my mother and can't wait for this "wonderful event" to be over so I can go back to our previous relationship. I am so relieved to hear that other people are also not enjoying this process as much as everyone says we are supposed to!