Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ask Mrs. Linklater -- Hot Summer Day Edition

Well, it's been awhile since Mrs. Linklater jumped on her high horse and rode herd on the advice columnists.  So it's about damn time she attacked them once again for no reason at all, except that she just loves to butt in where she's not wanted.

Amy Dickinson --
Mom's requests overwhelming

Published July 10, 2005, Chicago Tribune

Dear Amy: I have a problem. My mother calls a lot and wants me to come over and help with things like her computer, hanging pictures, moving furniture, etc.

I go to school full time and work full time, and I cannot be at her beck and call.

I love my mother to death, but this has to stop. I cannot be everywhere at once.

My cell phone is turned off while I'm in school.

How should I handle this?


Dear Frustrated: I know you think this is about household chores, but I think it's about your mom missing you. It sounds as if your life and schedule have recently changed, and your mother might not be adjusting to it as well as you are.

You need to set some boundaries and reassure your mother that you will come to see her--even when there aren't chores to do.

Perhaps you could develop a regular schedule--Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons--where she knows she will see you. She can save up some of those pesky chores for you, but mainly you can visit with each other. Be firm but patient with her while she weathers this transition, but if she continues to be demanding, she could be suffering from depression or anxiety. If you feel her constant contact is out of hand, talk to her about it and urge her to see her doctor.

MRS. LINKLATER RIDES TO THE RESCUE:  WHOA!!! This isn't about household chores or Mom missing her kid.This is about Mom being a complete and utter control freak. And the only way to control a control freak is to take the freaking control away from her.

Luckily, Mrs. Linklater has a twelve step program for just such problems.

So, what FRUSTRATED should do AS SOON AS POSSIBLE is to create some distance between herself and her parental unit.

That is why Mrs. Linklater's first eight steps are to 1. MOVE! 2. MOVE! 3. MOVE! 4. MOVE! 5. MOVE! 6. MOVE! 7. MOVE! AND 8. MOVE!

Not too far from school and your job. But at least an hour away from Mom. Far enough away that you can't run over to the house for stupid stuff. Then, when you graduate from college, you can advance to STEP NINE: MOVE AGAIN! 

That's right. Get a new job and MOVE TO ANOTHER CITY. Something at least four hours away is a good start.  That way you can do things for Mom a few times a year instead of several times a week.

STEP TEN: Since you probably can't do the move thing right away, just don't answer your cell phone when Mom calls. Press the END button when you see Mom's number come up.  It will send her call straight to voicemail.  You haven't hung up on her. And no mother has ever been harmed by diverting an unwanted call.

STEP ELEVEN: Get over the guilt. Because YOU WILL FEEL GUILTY. Your mother has signs of world class manipulation skills caused by her separation anxiety and not having a life of her own.

In fact, the first time you divert her call, you will feel so guilty that you avoided your mom you will be thinking about ways to apologize -- for what? Trying to take your life back?  Get over it.

Mrs. Linklater feels the need to repeats this step: GET OVER THE GUILT DAMMIT. Sorry, Mrs. L didn't mean to raise her voice like that.

Your mom has been sending you on guilt trips like a travel agent from Hell. Stop letting her punch your ticket.

Finally, STEP TWELVE:  Learn to use the word NO correctly in a sentence. No, Mom, I can't come over. No, Mom, this isn't a good time. No, Mom, I'm busy now. No, Mom, I can't do that.

Once you have mastered all these steps and begin to have a life of your own, you will be in the first stages of adulthood.

Soon, you will suddenly feel the urge to invite Mom out to brunch. And soon it will seem like a nice idea to stop by and do all that stupid stuff for her.

And you may even be happy to take Mom's calls. In fact, you may even hear yourself encourage her to call more. Because it's not Mom's idea.  It's YOURS.

When that happens Mrs. Linklater will send you a TWELVE STEP certificate of adulthood that is suitable for framing.


viviansullinwank said...

Gee  {{{{{ Mrs. L. }}}}} that was a nice ending...I didn't see it coming  :)    Hope all is well with you.

shaz19743 said...

Mrs L how about a once a month "dear Mrs L " entry ......we could email in a question or problem and you pick one and give a reply that really makes sense unlike some of the pseudo agony aunts writing out there .
You always seem to see thru the B.S and make sense x

swibirun said...

You rock Mrs. L!  You never fail to educate and entertain!  (aren't you glad you could amuse us?)


judithheartsong said...

it sure was about damn time!!!!!! xoxoxoxox, judi

emmapeeldallas said...

I've read this a couple of times, and I still chuckle each time I read it. Great advice! (and funny, too!).


gaboatman said...

You had me on this one until the last four paragraphs.  Once again Mrs. L proves her inate talent for making us see the plain truth.  Loved this entry and you are spot on, as always.

robbush6 said...

How's this: "No, Dad. I won't manage your slum apartments to enable your South Padre Island hobby another minute. That'll be $1,500 in pain and suffering and $2,000 in therapy visits. Oh, and Apartment A has a leaky toilet."

No guilt at all. Wow, your proven methods really work. I'm taking all the family photos off the wall to make room for my certificate suitable for framing.

sunnyside46 said...

God, you are good! why don't you live next door to me & say this out your window to me every morning!? Why?!
My mom is the Southeastern Guilt Distributor and I am her best customer!
Thank you! you may end your day happily knowing you have helped one soul along the way!