I just spent a long weekend in my parents tiny home with my own family and my aunt. My sister and her family and various cousins and their significant others streamed in and out pretty regularly.
My mother feels compelled to take care of all of our - their - needs, whether they be real or imagined.
She's always done this with me. I always assumed it was some sort of sweet, although somewhat misguided, maternal thing. She likes taking care of me and I'm - what you might like to call - a little bit on the lazy side. I'm very good at being taken care of. We're a good fit.
When I was in high school and had mono (Which went undiagnosed until I was way past the stage of contagion because she insisted I was just burning the candle at both ends. Until my throat swelled shut and I couldn't swallow my own spittle. Then she felt pretty bad.) and I was resting on the couch as per doctors orders. As we had nothing as fancy as a remote control, I would just say I wanted to watch something else and she would come out from the kitchen to change the channel for me. On the TV that was fully three steps away from me. Sometimes when Tom watches South Park, Cartman and his mom make me have flashbacks. I'm not proud of that, hon, but there it is. Now would someone please bring me some Cheesy Poofs?
But I digress.
Please try not to have a heart attack and die from the shock.
So this weekend when there were so many of us in the house I noticed that it's not just me. She feels the need to take care of everyone. Sometimes it's sweet. Sometimes it's downright intrusive. Always it's well intentioned.
She packs a lunch for my unmarried cousin every day.
She had several reunions this summer which would not have been able to occur without her. She takes on too much because she fears that if she left it to anyone else it wouldn't be done right. What an awesome responsibility her life must be.
A mundane and all too typical example:
I like to read. My husband, my father, my aunt and my daughters like to read as well. My mother? Not so much. So when one of us is reading (and at least ONE of us is almost ALWAYS reading) she becomes very concerned about our comfort.
"Here, you don't have enough light."
"I do. I have enough light. I'm fine."
"Well, let me just..." at this point she leans across whoever is reading and either turns the nearest light on or turns it up a notch. "There. That's better, right?"
"Did you know that chair reclines?"
"Here." She reaches down and pops up the foot rest on the recliner. "There you go."
"Ok. Thanks. I'm fine."
"Did you want something to drink?"
"No thanks, I'm fine."
"I have Diet Coke. You like Diet Coke, right?"
"I'll get you one."
"Not now, thanks."
"It's right there in the fridge if you change your mind. Did you want a sandwich? I have lunchmeat. Ham and roast beef. And that good Colby cheese you like."
At this point bookmarks are usually employed and sighs are rendered.
"Oh, you're not going to read anymore?"
She cannot and will not sit down until she is certain that everyone's every possible need has been met.
When visitors come, she can't sit and chat until everyone has a beverage and perhaps a piece of cake. It doesn't really matter what they answer when she asks if they'd like a piece. They'll be getting one.
This might all be seen as nice and or sweet, but then she turns around and bitches about it. You know, "If I don't do it, it doesn't get done. I'm so tired, but there's just always so much work."
There is no winning there.
Now I'm on my way home, where I find myself in a similar situation. If I don't do it, it doesn't get done.
A lot of stuff doesn't get done.
I'm cool with that.