I wish that real life came with one of those relationship selector things that I see on facebook and myspace. You know the one where you can select your current significant relationship status? Single, married, looking? Just select one word and everyone knows how the land lies. Only it's not my partner I'd use it for. It would be for my relationship with my parents, and most of the time it would be set to - "it's complicated."
You see they are a weird two. Weirder even than me. At times I have seriously doubted my parentage - I remember being a child and hearing about storks delivering babies and pumpkin patches where grown-ups just picked up babies from under leaves and I often wondered why my parents picked me and if they knew they'd make a huge mistake as soon as they unwrapped the blanket. Surely I was somebody else's? Why didn't they just put me back?
It was mum's birthday yesterday. It was impossible to buy her anything. She's so fussy and has "allergies" which include just about all food (this is code for she has an eating disorder), anything with perfume in it, anything that you can put in a bath (in fact anything that touches her skin at all). I did think about gifting her a relaxation day at the local spa but ruled that out straight away (see "allergies"). There is NOTHING you can buy her. In the end we gave her a Myers gift card, in the hopes that she might be able to find something, anything for herself. I scoured the birthday card section for what I call a no-nonsense type card. One that just says "To Mum, Happy Birthday," and just states the facts. That is my one tell it as it is protest.
Last week my dad had heart issues that put him in hospital, and could have killed him. My mother refuses to drive their car, not because she can't, she's had her license a long time - but because she won't. She didn't visit him after his life-saving surgery because she was "too tired" after catching the bus in to visit him at lunch time. She asked me to give him her best and assured me the nurse would ring her if he died.
Debra was sort of puzzled by mum's rejection of our offer to drive her in there and back (about a 40 minute round trip, no sweat) to see him after he came back down from the surgical ward after having his pacemaker put in. Apparently, "I'm too tired" didn't quite cut the mustard with Debra and she was shocked. For me it was a case of, 'that's how they've always been.'
I guess 'not actively caring' is their default setting and I'm just used to it.
My father's brush with death contrition lasted all of one night before he was back to his grumpy self and complaining about everything - from the hospital food to the other patients. I mean dad, they're in Cardiac Intensive Care - maybe they're actually dying of heart failure and not just trying to spoil your good night's sleep by coughing too much.
I guess using an "it's complicated" parental status would actually be code for, "you drive me up the wall and I want to throttle some sense into you both."
I really don't see how two people who live their lives in a world the size of a postage stamp think they can give sage advice to me, but they do it all the time. And if I disagree, then I'm at fault. It's as black and white as that. They don't respect the fact that I live outside their tidy hedge trimmed world, indeed I think it threatens them enormously. They can't understand how they raised me to be a lesbian, but after seeing their marriage I'm surprised they ever thought I'd be heterosexual!
Parenting to me, is supposed to be about giving the gift of life to another unique human being. Parental love should be given often and freely and without obligation. When you pile on obligation you starve love. It's that simple.
My advice to them? Life is short; far too short to spend it complaining about how hot/cold it is and how nobody else knows how to drive and "when I was younger people had more respect." For god's sake you're only 65! that's NOT old. Repeat after me THAT IS NOT OLD.
I guess they missed the whole hippie counter-culture thing whilst they had their head down in a bucket of soapy water while they were washing their car and trimming their hedge.