By the way, you may already know but I wanted to tell you that I had a chance to speak with John and I told him that Mr. Ruby and I would not be attending his wedding this summer.
Mr. Ruby has a major work project at the same time and he won’t be able to leave in the middle of it.
Then you should come with the kids.
I thought about how to make it work but really mom, I am not comfortable traveling with the three kids by myself.
And why not?
It’s too hard. Big kid is too old to go into the ladies room with me but too young to leave alone and with three kids and one adult if something goes awry as it often does with kids, I’m on my own and it’s too much for me.
Then you should come alone.
No, Mr. Ruby’s project is so involved that I cannot ask him to watch the kids in the middle of it, he may even have to fly into the home office depending on how things evolve, so leaving the three kids with him is not an option.
Well, what about your mother-in-law Myrna, can’t you leave the kids with her?
No, she isn’t available.
Well, you managed to get her to watch them when you went to Vegas.
Yes, I did, and she already has her own plans for that week in July. Like I told you, I have already tried to figure out a way to get there and it just isn’t going to work for us.
Why can’t you bring the kids?
I would be alone with all three kids, it’s too stressful for me and I don’t want to do that.
Well, you were going to let me do it with no problem.
No mom, we had briefly talked about that as a possibility and when I thought about it more, I realized I wasn’t comfortable with any one adult traveling with the three kids.
Well you did.
And now I don’t.
You should just suck it up and bring the kids, so what it’s hard, life is hard.
Mom, it upsets me when I tell you something is difficult for me, and you expect me to do it anyhow.
Frankly, you should want to come. Your aunt has done a lot for you and missing her son’s wedding is very unappreciative.
Me not attending John’s wedding does not invalidate my gratitude for the things Aunt Melissa has done for me.
You have no sense of family and how important it is to be at family events.
Mom, I live two-thousand miles away. The reality is I cannot attend every family function, it isn’t possible and it isn’t reasonable to expect me to.
I am very disappointed.
I understand you are disappointed.
I would hope that you would think about this and decide that it is important and come.
Mom, I already have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out a way to attend and it is not going to happen.
I am really disappointed in you.
I understand you are disappointed that we won’t be able to make it.
No, I am disappointed in you. And I am not the only one.
Well, I spoke with John and he seemed to understand why we were not going to attend so I am okay with that.
He was just trying to being nice.
Well, then I will fly out and escort you and the kids.
Mom, I already told you, we are not coming and I don’t want you to do that.
This is something you need to be at, these people all came to your wedding.
Mom, if I had been married in California instead of Chicago, many of those people, including John, would not have attended my wedding. How is this different?
If that had been the case then a bunch of people would have had to fly to you, this is just you coming out here.
But it is still me coming out.
You managed to get to Vegas just last month so I don’t understand why you can’t get out here for a wedding.
Yes, I took my husband to Las Vegas for his birthday.
Yeah, he has a birthday every year, this is a wedding for christsake. You need to come.
I have already made my decision mom.
Well great, this is just great. You are so fucking selfish I can’t believe it.
Wow mom, you are being really judgmental. Just because I am not doing what you think I should doesn’t make me selfish.
Well I get to have an opinion and tell you what you should be doing, that’s my job.
No. It is not.
Of course it is, I’m your mother.
Your job is not to tell me what you expect me to do, your job is to love me and support me.
It isn’t bullshit to me.
You said you wanted an authentic adult relationship with me, well here you go.
I didn’t say that, you did and if this is what you think authentic looks like then no, I am not interested.
So what, I don’t get to have an opinion?
You get to have an opinion and yes, you get to feel disappointed, but you do not get to use name calling, judgment and hostility to try to manipulate me into doing what you want.
You are so full of shit, I can’t believe you.
Mom, adults with good boundaries do not try to tell other adults what they should be doing.
Whatever, more bullshit.
I understand you are disappointed but this is what Mr. Ruby and I have decided.
You don’t care about family at all, I thought you were going to work on strengthening your relationships with your cousins?
Those were your words not mine and I do care about family which is why I made the decision that it is better for my family to sit this one out.
You are unbelievably selfish, you just do what you want to do whenever you want to do it, you know you are going to have to live with this.
I gave this a great deal of thought and I feel I am being reasonable so I am very ok with this decision.
So I suppose you are not coming home this summer at all?
That is correct, we will not be coming to Chicago this summer.
Because Mr. Ruby would like to visit his sister in Colorado and we don’t have enough vacation time to do both.
His sister? Visit his sister? You don’t even like his sister!
Mom, I adore his sister.
You are unbelievable.
I don’t think it is unreasonable that I use some of our vacation time to go see my husband’s sister.
Mom, we have come to see you six summers in a row, we have not been to see his sister ever. It is important to me that Mr. Ruby gets time with his family too, not just mine.
Great, just great, this is so ridiculous, you are so ridiculous, you don’t give a shit about anyone but yourself…
It is not good for me to let you speak to me this way so I am going to go.
Whatever, I can’t believe what a selfish person you are.
Mom, when you speak to me this way and judge me this way, it puts a wedge between us. You are being very judgmental, just because I am not doing what you think I should do doesn’t make me selfish and it doesn’t make you right.
You are wrong and this is bullshit.
Again, it is not good for me to let you talk to me like this so I am going to go.
I didn't obsess about what she said, I didn't wonder if she was right. I expressed my anger calmly, I didn't become a victim, I didn't let her manipulate me into feeling bad or changing my mind or melting into a puddle of guilt or anxiety. I didn't escalate even as she hissed her words and shouted at me. Yes, I took a small amount of satisfaction that the calmer I was the angrier she got but most of the time, I felt like an observer watching a child have a tantrum, escalating her behavior in order to get the candy.
And just like that, I was free. And I slept like a baby for the first time in four months.