Monday, November 9, 2009

Like water off a duck's back, or something

This weekend, I spent part of the day on Saturday over at my parents' house. I took my mom to run a few errands. She's been getting out of the house more now, which is good for her. She's walking great with the walker and has been cruising up and down McDonald Street, but for outings like this, she uses the wheelchair. I was a little nervous about it because it was our first time out, but it was okay. I took her to the Dollar Tree, Target, and Bed Bath and Beyond. I was afraid Target would be a madhouse. It was, but we managed just fine. Next time we're going to leave her wheelchair in the car and use one of the little motorized carts they have at Target. I hope those things have a horn or a bell installed.

We had a nice time. In spite of what I'm about to say, we have fun together. The only thing that is an issue is me.

How can I put this and not sound ungrateful?

My mom is sweet, and loving... but she can also be exacting. She is very, very sharp, and she likes things done in a certain way (I too have this trait, and believe me, it has been pointed out to me by my very patient husband). I vividly remember being a child and being instructed on the right way to dust the living room furniture. It made sense because even I remember that I was a lazy, dreamy child, more interested in whatever book I was reading than in keeping things neat, and without detailed instructions and supervision, I'm sure I would've done a half-assed job. As I got older, this kind of micromanaging made me rebellious, cranky, irritated, and pissed off. I never learned to shake it off, though, maybe my defense was to pretend to not care as much about how neat and clean my own home is now.

Besides household chores, my mom pretty much has an opinion on everything. It's cool, because you know what? So do I. I'm just as opinionated as she is. It's how we are. But when it comes to commenting on how I should drive, I kind of lose it.

Don't get me wrong, it's not just her: I don't like anybody criticizing my driving. I mean, why do people feel they can do that, anyway? If I don't like the way somebody's driving, I just make sure I'm buckled in, hold my breath, and count the minutes until I can get out. I think it's kind of rude to comment on it, right? (Though, Patrick, sometimes you really do drive too fast.) I guess I'm sensitive because it took me so long to learn in the first place (I didn't get a car, or my license, until I was 22), and it took me multiple times to pass the test... and my brother used to mock the way I rode a bike. But now I've been driving for quite awhile, and I drive quite a bit, and I think I'm responsible and safe and finally, a good driver.

My mom and I were driving around Culver City on Saturday, and she said something about something (possible the "right route" to take from their house to one of the places we were going, which was probably different from the way I wanted to go): I don't remember what, exactly. I just remember maybe losing my temper a little (it's possible she'd already made other comments), and I got pissed off.

There are, I guess, two ways to look at this. One is that I need more self-confidence, because a self-confident person wouldn't be bothered by anyone's criticism, even coming from their own mother. And the other is that I need to control my temper. After all she's been through? I felt horrible. I didn't really say much, I just got mad: I felt it, being mad, and I didn't like it. After a while we laughed about it and talked about other stuff, but I don't know. I felt bad.

When I got home, I mentioned it to my sister. I said, "I need to learn to be more patient when people are criticizing me." I was general because there was another incident with someone else last week that was kind of on the devastating level, which we won't be talking about here. My sister agreed. She's right: I should be better about handling this.

It's sort of obvious to me, now that I've written these paragraphs (and possibly was obvious to you, sooner, if you've been here before or actually know me), that the key words here are "self-confidence." Standing tall, and proud; not taking shit in a way that means I think I'm important but not in an annoying way - knowing when it's not worth it to get angry. This seems doable, I guess? I think controlling my emotions is something I need to work on, too. Being nice (instead of snapping back, or worse, sobbing) when someone is heckling you seems counterintiuitive, but what do I know? It might be a good idea to try.

So I guess I get to be the duck (you knew I'd get to the title of this post somewhere in here, didn't you?). It should be easy: I already walk funny.

1 comment:

  1. I thought this essay was quite insightful, contemplative, and (goes without saying but I will say it) beautifully written. I remember when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, one time I was visiting her and my father and she said to me: "You never pussy-footed around me before and I don't want you doing it now because we both know I am dying." Shook me to my bones but she was right!