Monday, February 06, 2006

Mama drama

My mom and I are pretty close. We don't talk every day, nor does she know Every Single Detail of my life, but we typically get along well and talk a couple times a week. We stay away from hot-button topics such as politics and religion, on which we completely disagree, and we do fine.

Lately, though, she is driving me batshit crazy. She's been super clingy, calling me quite often (especially now that I work at home -- even though she herself is at work!), starting every conversation with a syrupy sweet "So how are you feeling?," wanting to know what I last ate, how it affected me, etc. Saturday morning, for example, she called wanting to know if I've been having heartburn. No, I said. "Oh, well I've been having heartburn lately, which I haven't experienced since I was pregnant with E., and so I wondered if it was sympathy heartburn," she replies.

Sympathy heartburn?? I have heard of a pregnant woman's partner having sympathetic symptoms, but her mother?

I have to admit that I was not very charitable in my response. "Well," I said, "you might be, but with some other pregnant woman, not me." (Of course, the gods slapped me later that night, when a very nice lasagne gave me horrific heartburn.)

Also on Saturday, I received a box of clothes she sent me, mostly sweaters of hers that she thought I might be able to use, I guess because they're long?? Hard to say. These were fine; in fact, I'm wearing one right now. But in the bottom of the box were two pairs of pants she'd bought me in the maternity department at Sears. Sears, I tell you. The first was a pair of very ugly jeans with panel. The second, which she described in a later e-mail as "gaucho pants," are extremely wide-legged, black, stretchy culottes. They are hideous, and I can not imagine ever wearing them.

The best part? She didn't send the receipt, just a note that said she has the receipt and will send it if I need it... thus forcing me to tell her I am going to return them. This occasioned a little white lie on my part about how the pants, which I have not allowed to touch my body, do not fit. Gah.

Lastly, she is a little miffed that we are borrowing lots of baby stuff from friends. (My oldest friend, as in the one I have known for the longest time, was here this weekend and literally brought us a car full of stuff -- high chair, tub, mobile, multiple bags of baby clothes, boppy, co-sleeper, etc.) While this approach makes sense to me -- why spend money on stuff that is freely available? -- it makes my mom sad that there will be NOTHING left for her to buy for the baby. Which is obviously not true. I jokingly told her that we're saving the big-ticket items, like stroller and glider, etc., for our families, but it didn't appease her in the least.

I know this is all sounding very harsh on my part, but that's why I'm writing about it here rather than barking at her. I also know that the clinginess, the bizarre shopping for me, the miffed-ness about the baby stuff are all byproducts of her intense desire to be involved in my pregnancy. She doesn't want to miss out on anything about her oldest daughter's pregnancy with her first grandchild, and I completely understand and respect that. But she is driving me crazy in the process, and as a result I'm regressing to my 16-year-old behavior, which involves pouting and bitching and pushing her away.

The other, more complicated thing going on here is that when Darren and I were first married, I put a lot of energy into disengaging from my parents (with the help of a very good therapist). At the time, I was way too involved with them; more than once, Darren learned about something interesting that had happened to me at work, or something that was bothering me, by overhearing me on the phone with my mom. And when my parents had some very serious marital problems, I was my mom's confidante, which helped her a great deal but made me miserable and very, very conflicted.

The wonderful thing about my mother is that I was able to talk to her about needing to put Darren first, that it was important that we establish ourselves as a family unit separate from her and my dad. Since her own in-laws can be a bit overbearing, she understood and was extremely supportive.

These days, though, I feel as though she's looking for a return to the days of too much intimacy between us, while I am ever more convinced of the primacy of the little family Darren and I have created. And I find myself keeping things from her just because I can; she doesn't know about last week's bleeding episode, for example, nor does she know that I have been feeling the bambina kick since Saturday(!). I will tell her about both when we talk later this week, but there was a time when I would have called her right away.

I don't know how our relationship will evolve once I, too, am a mother, only that it will. And for now I am trying my damndest to be a grownup, to not stomp on her excitement or gripe about her enthusiasm. But consider this fair warning that there may be a goodly number of "guess what my mom did this time" posts in my future.