This post printed with the approval of my mother.
My mom arrived this morning.
I am so happy that she is here! But it is so much easier to be respectful in theory!
A month ago, when my mom wanted to hop on the plane and come right away, I explained that I was not in a "good place" and did not have any emotional energy left over to take care of her (or anyone else). I suggested that it would be better for all of us if she waited a few weeks. My mother sincerely insisted that she does not make any demands. I laughed, and offered to consult my father and my siblings. I accepted that if even one of them agreed with her, I would reconsider my position. But they all laughed too.
Well, within 5 minutes of arriving, my mom started making suggestions about how to improve things.
I wasn't prepared (though I should have been). And I did not have the patience I needed.
Luckily, a few minutes later, my mom called my dad. I laid out the scenario for him, and he kindly explained to my mom some guidelines about how to help, and how to refrain from "helping."
After that, I took things a bit more in stride. I shared with my mom how important it is for me to treat her appropriately. I also reminded her that, though I look and sound good, I still have very limited energy and resources.
I want to make sure that my mother is comfortable and that her needs are cared for. But she will have to do most of the caring for herself, by herself.
That's just the way it is.
That said, I can still show her deference by talking to her properly and making certain that my children also show her deference, both in attitude and behavior. For example: at the dinner table, though we usually serve from the "bottom up" (from youngest to oldest), my kids are now old enough to wait until their grandmother is served first.
During the evening, my eldest daughter made several practical (and good) suggestions about how I could better respond to my mother. I graciously accepted her advice.
Later, I informed my daughter that she had just "raised the bar" regarding my expectation of her adherence to this particular mitzvah.
We both lovingly laughed at that.
May God give me the strength to accept my mother for who she is and help me to focus on all the wonderful aspects of her personality.
I really am very glad that she is here.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,
The Face of a Hypocrite
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