Mom and the new vacuum cleaner


My weekend started out great. On Friday night, I went with my sister and BIL to the Mesa 2nd Friday event, which we always love… only this time, it wasn’t as fun as it’s been in the past, since some key businesses that made 2nd Friday great are now out of business. It was sad. But still, we wandered around and that was worth it. After that, we grabbed some dinner and then went to the movies to see “Cabin in the Woods.”

I LOVED this movie. It was written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, the genius minds behind Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse and the upcoming The Avengers movie… so it was almost a no-brainer for us that we were going to like it. Anyway, it was lots of fun and not actually scary. It was clever as hell. I won’t talk much about it because it’s definitely the kind of movie that is best seen without knowing much going in. That’s how we did it, and the experience was really worth it.

Saturday was lazy… I hung around in my PJs for most of the day, only showering and getting dressed towards the end of the afternoon. I just didn’t feel like doing much. I caught up on some shows on the DVR, read a lot (I’m reading two books now so I went back and forth between them throughout the weekend) and napped. At some point, I got moody and depressed, though. I blame the lack of activity and social interaction for that. I was feeling all lonely and annoyed that I am 36 years old, hopelessly single and childless. I was resenting my past mistakes, and all the time I’ve wasted with sub-par people or sheer lethargy. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt, until finally I gave up and went to bed, hoping to feel better in the morning.

Well, I didn’t. I was still all blahhh and wanting to mope around for yet another day, wallowing in my depression cloud. I’d gone back to bed around 11am and was lying there reading with the pets around me when my doorbell rang unexpectedly.

It was my Mom. She had gone to K-Mart and bought me a vacuum cleaner, out of the blue. ???

I’ve talked about my need for a heavy-duty bagless vacuum for awhile now, but the need has intensified since Moose came along. Holy crap, he is the main shedder in my house right now. He’s easily dropping more hair everywhere than the other three COMBINED. And yes, two of those three are a Sheltie and a Maine Coon. I’m really not exaggerating this, either. Hurley is actually the lightest shedder in the house, if you can believe that. But it’s true. It’s because his hair kind of “stays put” when it sheds, since he has the undercoat. I have to physically remove the dead hair with a brush or my hands. Simon’s got incredibly good grooming skills, and he is the only pet that likes to be brushed, so that takes care of his share of the hair for the most part. Gremlin is shedder #2, which only goes to show that short-haired pets are bigger shedders than other pets. (This is according to my own experiences!)

ANYWAY. I have been researching Dysons, mostly, and was planning to purchase one this summer as soon as my car’s new tires are paid off. (I don’t want to add another short-term bill until the first one’s paid off.) Off and on, I’ve been on Consumer Reports and stuff, checking out different brands and trying to determine what would be best, but since the purchase wasn’t coming until the summer I wasn’t putting that much into my search yet. However, I did mention all of this to my Mom, who apparently took what I told her and ran with it, thinking SHE needed to BUY ME a new vacuum.

This is ridiculous, because she is retired now, collecting SS and her pension from when she worked in NJ. It’s a fixed income and once the pension is paid out in full, it’s only going to get smaller. I do not accept her buying me anything expensive. I worry all the damn time about her and money, wondering how she is going to survive once the pension runs out, if she has a medical crisis (she has no health insurance right now, which is terrifying in itself) or if my Dad finds a way to stop paying her the lifetime alimony he is ordered by-law to pay her each month. He’s trying to find a loophole… no doubt at the encouragement of his horrible, selfish wife… so I’m scared he’ll succeed.

My mom doesn’t seem to understand just how much we worry about her. And how serious we are when we tell her not to spend a lot of money on us. When she still had a job, she used to be aggressive about paying for stuff when we were out shopping with her, like at Target or something– she would literally PULL things from our arms and shove it on the conveyor belt, and block us from approaching the cashier so she could buy everything for me and my sister. We would get so embarrassed, because she made a scene out of it if we protested, and we ALWAYS would protest it. It sucked. I know it’s a nice gesture, she wants to help out her daughters and all of that, but we’re not dumb, either, and we know how much money she has and what she doesn’t have, and we don’t want to stand for her being careless with her money. She can’t afford to do that. But try telling HER that. She gets all angry and flustered and almost seems like she is in denial about her own future. She seems to think that magically, everything will work out just fine and she will always have enough money to live on, la dee da. UGH. It’s really difficult for me and my sister to try to get her to be realistic and see the facts.

Sooo, because Mom had just decided to spontaneously go out and spend her money on a new vacuum for me–and bought me one I absolutely did NOT want, at that– yesterday I was a mess of emotions. I was crying and pleading with her to take it back, trying to be firm and still not hurt her feelings because she clearly was psyched about being able to do “something nice for me” (she is so sweet and good-hearted, really) and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful… but I wanted nothing more than for her to return the stupid thing and get the credit back on her credit card. Because that’s the other thing: She put it on her Sears card, which is an AWFUL card, with insanely high interest rates. Why? Why? Why did she DO this?!

Oh, because she had gotten a coupon in the mail. $30 off a purchase of $100 or more. She couldn’t let the coupon expire, oh no. She knew I wanted a vacuum, and she also knew I was feeling kind of down at the time (she called right in the middle of my pity party on Saturday night, so that’s how she knew), so she thought she would do a nice thing and buy me an “early birthday present.”

UGH. It’s a stupid Eureka vacuum that, according to the K-Mart salesperson, is “better than a Dyson” and only cost $129. (It also says right on the damn box, “Better than a Dyson at 1/2 the Price.” So the marketing machine at Eureka gets points for swaying my already-gullible mother. Yay.) It’s all plastic, and when I tested it on my couch to remove the Moose hair, it did almost nothing. My old Kenmore works better than this thing, and that’s saying something. It has stupid attachments that are impractical and since 90% of my house is tile or laminate flooring, I need something that’s especially good for bare floors. This new thing is serviceable, but no better than what I’ve been using for the past 5 years or so. It’s frustrating as hell.

Well, I finally calmed down somewhat and got dressed and we went out to lunch. I treated her, for buying me a new vacuum (a new vacuum I really, really did NOT want, of course) and she seemed happy. She came with me while I ran a couple of quick errands, like buying dog food and groceries and dropping a box of crap at Goodwill, and she definitely got into a good mood. I’m glad she seems to feel good about what she did, because frankly, that’s the best I can hope for in this situation. I can’t yell at her, or say anything that could be kind of “mean” because… I don’t know, we just can’t do that. She takes things so seriously and will cry and say things to try to make us feel bad in return. And then we know she is just going home to her lonely apartment and she has no real close friends at all, and it’s just too difficult to get harsh with someone like that. My sister and I have to weigh our reactions to things she does and strategize the best way to respond before we speak. Over the years, we’ve gotten pretty good at it, I think, but she really can test the boundaries sometimes. Like yesterday. I had no clue how to get through to her, and it was a mess.

Things with family can be very tricky. I’m really fortunate because I’m super, super close to both my sister and my Mom, but at the same time I always have them on my mind and I have this strong urge to take care of them. Even if they don’t need it! You know what I mean? I just worry about them, and if something is bothering one of them, well it definitely bothers me, too. I’m working on making mental limits in my relationship with my Mom, because I can’t just talk to her about anything like I can with my sister. So I will actively make myself say things like, “She can take care of herself, she is 63 years old and she’s in that great community now, so there are other people she can call for help with things if she needs it, so don’t offer to go over and fix something in her apartment for her.” I remind myself all the time that I am NOT responsible for her happiness, and it really is OK for me to not call her one day. (She sometimes freaks out if she can’t get ahold of me or my sister, and will call over and over again or call the other sister and ask, “Did you hear from L (or T) today? She’s not answering her phone and I’m worried something might have happened!” When, in reality, we’re just busy living our lives.)

Just once I would like to answer the phone when she calls like this, “Oh, thank god you called, Mom. I’m out here in the middle of nowhere, lying in a ditch!” Heh.

(What is the thing with “lying in a ditch somewhere” anyway? Why are ditches the place we’d all end up if we run into trouble? And honestly, I don’t see that many ditches around anywhere. You would have to go looking for a ditch, which is stupid if you’re in trouble, because wouldn’t it make more sense to just call someone for help on your cell phone or go look for a cop, or a hospital?)

Oh, Mom. You mean well, but sometimes I just want to smack ya.

That’s just how it is. That’s love.



4 responses »

  1. Moms. Lordy. I don’t even know what to tell you, since it’s not like you can be direct about this or anything. Maybe if you just mentioned it to her casually — BEFORE she spends any money on you? Catch her off guard, when you’re not feeling so emotional and won’t feel like you’re being ungrateful. Like, “Mom, I know you love me and want to do things to make me happy, but when you spend so much money on me it makes me anxious and sad instead. If you want to help me, you could [fill in gesture that doesn’t cost money but will still make her feel needed].”

    Or hell, if that doesn’t work maybe you could pay off her Sears bill or something, on the DL. 🙂

  2. Just find a few small ways to “reimburse” her by doing as you’ve already done- treating her to lunch, or dropping off groceries a time or two, taking her to a movie, or buying her something else she’s mentioned wanting.

  3. Mom did not heed my warnings of “Lisa wants an ACTUAL Dyson mom, like mine! Don’t buy her a vaccuum!”. Mom rarely listens. I love her but dammit, she has to save her money. Sorry I wasn’t better at thwarting this, Schwester.

  4. I like the idea of going into Sears and paying off the bill for her before she gets it. That way she’s not spending the money and she used the coupon!

    Don’t even get me started on moms or in my case MILs. I would love to have more issues with my mom but since she is so far away we are on a pretty good even keel. My MIL, I would love to smack her sometimes. Basically because she doesn’t listen. The listening is always problem. If she listened so many things would not turn into huge issues. And then there is always the whole tactic of roundabout trying to do things for herself that she should just ask for help with. It frustrates B to no end when he discovers she went and spent money on something he could have done for her no problem. That is what we are here for. But she always thinks she is bugging us too much. Believe me, I have no problem telling her we are busy if we are busy but if she legitiimately needs something done we will make time to help her. That’s what family does.

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