When I was planning my week of vacation at home, I was really concerned about how the emotions were going to be when I got there. My mom has never been a supporter of my choice to come to South Korea – not 5 years ago and definitely not this time.
I had prepared myself for a week of snide comments, and back-handed remarks, tensions that just increased as the days progressed. I had prepared myself for the normal psychological trauma and had also told myself that since I was on vacation, I was going to try my best not to engage in anything that my mom would try to pull me into (I’ve had 29 years of training so I think I’m starting to get good at avoidance).
Most of you readers know that my mom and I have a very difficult relationship. She is constantly criticizing everything that I do, and I feel like nothing I do is ever good enough for her. Add on top of it all that I am 29, not married, and have no children – and I’m basically just a walking disappointment for her. I’m pretty sure she won’t be happy until she has grandchildren.
But this trip was surprisingly good! She really only made one comment that I was expecting. I said something about “my kids” which we all know to be my students and she replied with “ppft what kids”. I let it go. I didn’t want to start a fight with her.
As you read in an earlier post, I had a dentist appointment the first day back. I asked her to drive me, thinking that it would be a good way for us to spend time together. And it was. She had an appointment at the same time, as well as my brother. Since he took much longer than us, my mom and I went shoe shopping. It was a nice little outing for us, and I even introduced her to a Starbucks vanilla latte! Made with soy milk of course since she can’t have regular milk.
She said around Christmas that she had bought a Christmas present for me (because to my parents “please don’t buy me any Christmas gifts” means buy me presents). The Sunday evening she gave me an envelope and said that she had bought “this” for me. I opened it and it was a dvd: The Fox and The Hound I & II. I LOVE Disney movies and have a great little DVD collection started. It was great! I put it on the shelf with the rest of my movies and was very happy.
The next day, when we were driving into town for the dentist appointments, she tells me to remind her when we get home and she would give me my Christmas present. “I thought that was the DVD?”
“No”, she says. “that was just something I saw for you. I have your Christmas gift at home. But if you don’t want it, then I will keep it”
Interesting I thought. Very interesting…..
So we get home, and then right before bed I remember what she had said. I asked about it and she handed me a box. A long jewelry box like for a necklace. I kind of give her a sideways stare. I’m not a jewelry type of person, and my mom’s tastes are VERY different than mine.
I open it up and it was the most beautiful bracelet!
So I saw this and instantly was like “WOW” because it’s beautiful! And it’s white gold. And then a pit in my stomach – I didn’t want it. Then I started to make excuses: the biggest one being that it’s “crushed diamonds” (is crushed diamonds REALLY a thing?! No I don’t think so – just fancy words to make you pay more for something..I have “crushed diamonds” in a ring my parents bought me and there are just lumps there….that look like they are just tiny drops of silver…..) Anyways, I hate diamonds. I don’t wear diamonds – and only half the reason is because of the violent nature of the diamond industry.
I slowly close the box and hand it back to her. My brother makes a comment about it being about the diamonds, but really it’s because I will literally never wear it. It’s not my style, it’s not something I would EVER buy for myself. Yes it’s beautiful, but that doesn’t mean that it’s for me.
My mom said to “think about it” for the rest of the week and if I “still couldn’t wear it” she would keep it. “It’s not that I can’t wear it”, I told her. “It’s that I won’t wear it. I will never wear something like this.”
I kept it for the week and was still of the same opinion so I gave it back to her. She SAID she would keep it if I didn’t want it. I handed it to her and said that I would most definitely not wear it in the next four months, and that when I come back after that we would talk about it again. Not that I’m expecting to change my mind about it, but it was easier to hand it back saying that.
So the week ended with no big blow ups or guilt trips from her. She even handled the news about the bracelet really well – no tears, no yelling, nothing. The first night she gave it to me she did say that if I decided not to keep it, that I wasn’t ever going to get anything expensive from her again (The bracelet came with a lifetime protection plan on it, and the receipt was stapled inside. It was a $300 bracelet, but when she bought it, it was on sale for like $80 plus the protection plan so in total she paid around $115). So aside from that small little guilt trip/mind game, nothing much.
I arrived back in Korea and sent my parents an email telling them I had arrived safely. She replied that I should take some time to think of the people I hurt while I was at home, and how I could have improved the week….
GAH! I thought I had escaped the psychological warfare she normally has in store for me. But I replied that I had spent the whole day on Monday with her and had been at home for the majority of the week, sitting on the main floor without my laptop, and that I thought I had spent my time wisely (I wasn’t going to yell at her, so if she needed to get angry and yell she would have to do it herself).
She replied that she was mostly talking about my dad – that I had hurt HIS feelings. The whole time I was at home, he was either out in the garage working on a side table he was building (yeah my dad’s a hobby guy lol) or he was sitting in the family room with my mom and brother watching tv. I was in the master bedroom on the bed watching tv.
SURE I guess I could have been in the family room with them, sitting in the middle of the couch on the one seat that is the most uncomfortable out of the entire house, with my dad on his phone beside me, my brother on his laptop on the other side blocking the TV, watching some program that only my mom has any interest in while SHE is also on her phone or laptop. But I decided to be comfortable and happy in the other room where anyone was free to join me.
So after that whole week at home, aside from not loving a gift she bought me, the only drama that happened was over my dad. Almost made it! Almost….