My mother drives me nuts. And I feel tremendously guilty in saying that. My mother and I have always had a good, close relationship. She was always there for me when I needed her. She was always very loving. When I lived out west in Phoenix and L.A. and things were tough, I could call her at any time of the day and she’d talk to me. When I decided to move back to Tennessee from L.A. during some tough times, she and Dad let me move in with them for awhile, with my cat, and they were not cat people. But she’s changed. And not for the better.
I never knew how much of a buffer Dad was for Mom. Dad spent a lot of time in his office and Mom spent a lot of time on the sofa in the living room, working on her puzzle books. But Dad died unexpectedly two years ago this month. And Mom was shocked and devastated. And then it began. I knew I’d have to be there for her and was totally willing. At the time, she lived near me in Hixson, TN, where they’d moved from Knoxville to be close to me. But she started calling me every day. A lot. Like 20-30 times a day. Too much. I thought it might be just for a couple of weeks. I was wrong. And it was for unnecessary stuff. Just cause she was lonely. And to a certain degree, I understood that. But she was also living on the phone, talking to all of her many hundreds of friends around the world, making dozens of calls a day and she would proudly tell me about all the people she had talked to that day. OK, so why talk to me so damn much then? I had to help her with Dad’s stuff and I had to go to Knoxville A LOT to deal with the funeral, to deal with his accountant, attorney, financial planner, etc. It was a lot, and a lot of traveling and Mom loves to talk. It drove me nuts. I’m not big on talking. Meanwhile, she was continuing to call me, 20-25 times a day. I was losing my patience. I was starting to dread hearing my phone ring cause I knew it’d be her and I knew it’d be about nothing at all. Guess how many cards I got in the mail today? That sort of thing.
Time went on. She stopped getting cards. She got about 800. Literally. She stopped getting so many phone calls, although she still made them. But she didn’t stop calling me. I was starting to go insane. But she was also being generous with us. She wanted us to move, for one reason because we lived in a bad neighborhood which was increasingly dangerous and for another reason, to be closer to her. So she helped us buy a new house about 10 minutes from her that was a lot nicer in a safe, quiet neighborhood and we owe her on that. Still, she called. However, she was down to 15-20 calls a day now. By this time, however, the damage had been done. I was over talking to her. I had had enough. The irony of her helping us with this house was that she decided to move back to Knoxville to be with all of her friends and to go back to her old church! So she found a condo up there, put her house here up for sale, and moved a couple of months later. And while the visits to our house would stop, I knew the calls wouldn’t. And they didn’t. She liked her new condo and while she was busy with her friends doing lunch and going out to dinner, she was and is lonely at night. She really misses Dad, still. So she calls me. Still. I’ve had talks with her. I’ve told her she calls me too often. I’ve told her she doesn’t need to call me whenever something pops into her head that she wants to tell me about. That she can save it up for a lunch call and a post-dinner call. And for awhile, she tries that. And then she’ll start calling me at 8 or 9 AM again. And at 10. But she has gotten better. She’s only calling me between 1 and 10 times a day now, usually about five, a major improvement. But I dread every call. Every call. I hate talking to her now and I feel very guilty about that. I know she needs someone to talk to, but I’m not sure why. She can’t have silence in her home. She can’t go without talking to someone in her home. Why? Sometimes she apologizes for calling, like she knows it bugs me, but she can’t help it. Why? And I can’t express my frustration with her too ardently cause she has helped us out financially and I feel I should keep my feelings to myself as a result. She paid off my massive student loan debt that I had been paying on for years. That was very generous of her. She didn’t have to do that. But it doesn’t take away from her damn calls. And now she wants us to come visit all the time. We do go up to Knoxville every 4-6 weeks to see her. That’s not good enough. I swear, the same week we go see her, she’ll say “When can I see you again?” and I’ll tell her that she just did and she’ll have forgotten. She’s 85. Her memory’s not the best. But I’m 48. I don’t know of any other 48 year old people — men — who talk to their mothers every day, let alone 10-20 times a day. It’s crazy. Once a week I can see. That’s how often Gretchen talks to her parents. That makes sense to me. But every day, multiple times a day? Gah! She has driven me crazy and now I can barely stand her and I hate being with her and I know that is wrong and you should respect your elders, but shouldn’t they respect you and your wishes too? All I’m asking for is a maximum of two calls a day. I think that’s reasonable. OMG. Nuts, I tell you. Nuts.