Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Let Other People Be How They're Gonna Be

Last night and this morning I'm being reminded, again, that the only person I can control is me.  Even when I have the best of intentions and just want everyone to be happy and have fun... it doesn't always work out as I would like. 


This reminder is coming in the form of my mom and a special event I had planned with her, my sisters, and my aunt. 

I was so excited when I found out my mom's all-time favorite band is going on tour.  She loves this group and practically worships the lead singer.  It's kind of funny actually.  So I asked my two sisters if they'd want to go in with me to get tickets for the five of us -- my sisters and I, and also for our mom and aunt. 

My sisters were in.  They thought it was a great idea.  So I bought the tickets as Christmas presents for my mom and aunt, as a surprise. 

I think I was most excited for this past Christmas as I was for any other that I can really remember.  I couldn't wait to see the look on my mom's face when she opened up her big present.  My grand plan was to make it a whole "girls' day."  Drive down early (the nearest concert location was about two hours away...fortunately enough, in the city where my aunt lives), have a relaxing, fun, bonding-type of day.  Go out to eat.  Then head over to the concert.  I can't even remember the last "bonding experience" I've had with my mom... if ever... so I thought this would not only be fun, but was needed in a way. 

Well, it's not working out like I had wanted.  And quite frankly, I'm disappointed. 

My mom has decided to not take off work on Thursday, like I thought she would.  So she and one of my sisters are driving down right before the concert, meeting up with my aunt, and going straight to the show.  No dinner.  No fun car ride with all of us.  No bonding going on at all.  Just "see you at the concert." 


I, on the other hand, still plan to drive down early, hopefully with my other sister, and at least have a fun time ourselves.  It's the only thing I can think of to salvage what I wanted to be a whole fun experience, and not just "going to a concert." 

Then, as is not uncommon with my mom, I get this text from her last night.  She had worked out this whole driving logistics plan.  You see, she has "issues" (irrational fears) with driving on the highway.  And she apparently feels safest when she's riding (not driving, mind you, she won't drive on the highway) in her own car.  So she had worked out this whole thing, of who would drive what car, and when -- given that we are driving down at two separate times, and we are actually coming home at three separate times (my dad was actually going to make the drive on Saturday to pick up my mom and bring her home).  Anyway... that's more to the story than I need to go into. 

Suffice it to say, as soon as I read my mom's lengthy, detailed text, explaining who would drive what car and when, I instantly felt stressed.  I could feel her trying to control the whole situation, even through her text. 

Now, those of you reading this blog may think this is nothing.  Not a big deal.  And if it were this one occurrence, it probably wouldn't be.  But for me, this is a disappointment upon many disappointments where my mother is concerned.

I wanted a fun, stress-free, bonding experience.  What I'm getting is a limited, controlled, not-stress-free, and so far not much fun, experience. 

As I wrote about it in my journal this morning I was reminded that all I can control is me. 

I can't control my mom's irrational fears or attempts to control everyone and everything. 

I can't control whether she has fun or not, or whether she wants to "bond" and spend real time with me, or us, or not.   

I think that's the biggest disappointment of all.  It's probably something I should just accept and move on.  My mother and I have never had a really close relationship.  I've never felt like I could talk to her or trust her with any secrets, or anything for that matter.  Not to be mean here, but she has let me down time and time again as long as I can remember. 


Now, there are good qualities about her, I have to put that in.  She's not a bad person.  She's very generous and kind.  It's just what I would most like her to be generous with -- her time and attention with me -- she's not.

I can't even recall a good, deep, meaningful conversation with her.  Ever. 

Those girls whose mother is their best friend, who they tell everything to, who they know will be there for them no matter what.  I've never had that, and it makes me sad. 


I'm 35 and I thought I had accepted my mom for who and how she is.  But as evident with this concert, clearly I have not.  At least not entirely. 

Even this is happening for a reason.  Even this is a gift from the Universe. 

What is the gift in all of this?  I don't know right now. 

But I suppose I can start in taking this as a lesson to let other people be how they're going to be.  What I want isn't always what other people want.  What I think would be fun, isn't always what other people are going to do.  The kind of relationship I would like to have with someone isn't always the kind of relationship they want or are capable of. 

I need to accept this.  This is just another opportunity to practice that acceptance. 

Practice living in love.  Love myself -- be true to me and do what I need to do for me.  And love others -- as they are -- and let them be who they are. 

I foresee a "conversation" coming up with my mom... about how I am not going along with her attempt to control what cars everyone drives so she can ride there and back in her own car.  I know she'll be angry, upset, and try to add further stress to me and the situation. 

So be it.  Again, I can't control her response, or her chosen actions.  But I can be true to me.  I can stand in my own truth.  I can stand up for myself and not let my mother control me like she's tried to do my whole life.  At least that I've gotten better at.

So at least I've come that far. 

*All quotes below are from www.goodreads.com.

Quotes of the Day:

“Letting go doesn't mean that you don't care about someone anymore. It's just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.”  (Deborah Reber, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul)

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  (Lao Tzu)

“Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, So what. That's one of my favorite things to say. So what.”  (Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol)



  1. Oh I can see myself in your experience. I had a similar disappointment when I got 3 tickets to the opera for my parents and myself. We all have September birthdays and thought it would be a great present.My Dad was born in Italy and my mother was born here but didn't learn to speak English until she went to kindergarten. They had never gone to an opera, and I had this warm and rosy picture in my mind of us bonding. But my parents weren't interested in going at all. They like it on tv but didn't want to attend. They gave their tickets away.This was a few years ago and honestly I haven't gotten over it yet. If I had I probably wouldn't be commenting.It hurts to realize that the relationship I want with them will never be. The little girl in me still wants them to be different. I have to learn to change my expectations.

    "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
    Leo Tolstoy

    1. Jeanette,
      Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your experience!!! It means a lot and is always comforting to hear other people experiencing the same or similar things.

      I wonder if we'll ever get over disappointments in or from our parents. I'm so many ways I'm very independent and take care of myself. Perhaps it's BECAUSE my parents weren't super close to me, I learned to be close to myself, if you will. I often felt like the more mature one, among my mom and me, growing up (and still do). But my mom STILL gets to me, and I hate that. I STILL feel disapointed when she does stuff contrary to what I think a good mother "should" do. And contrary to how I wish she'd behave. It seems by now I'd learn and not expect anything from her anymore. I guess it saddens me to let go of the hope. The hope that one day she WILL be different. I know it's not going to happen.