How are YOU?

Do you know can be incredibly frustrating about my relationship with my mother? Is that is completely almost totally one-sided! I mean do NOT for a second think that I am ungrateful for everything she has done, sacrificed and achieved in raising me. Don’t for one millisecond think that I don’t sit here in awe of the fact that from the age of eight she raised me as a single parent without any emotional or monetary help from my dad at all.

BUT it seems that the moment I started earning an income I suddenly started morphing into something else. Sure, I was always the one mum spoke to about her problems, finances and don’t even get me started on the abundance of ‘emotional scarring’ my father left on my mother where I all too vividly remember mum crying in her bedroom then scooping me up so I could sleep with her in her bed. But even then if I (as a child) wanted to cry about my own sadness my mum always told me that seeing me cry hurt her too much – me crying would make her cry so that then i’d have to make her feel ok and happy, so in most cases I’d “sort myself” out by just crying by myself in the dead of night in my room.

When I graduated university and got that full-time job I changed yet again; I became the provider, the husband, the listener, the maintainer, the fixer, the translator, the plumber, the driver… BUT I still had a curfew and I STILL had to listen and obey her every instruction. But I did it; I sucked it up and did it – because she raised me, because she did it on her own, because I think she managed to do a bloody good job of it, because I DO love her, because she is my mother.

And now I’m married and have a baby – and whilst I am now not entirely playing the role of “financier” ( though that is NOT for lack of her trying) I am still the translator, the driver and the person to has to calm her down when things seem too much (which is often, as she is a highly anxious person). What frustrates me MOST of all is she never, ever asks how I am.


Even when she calls me and its obvious I am sick; she’ll say in an accusing tone “you sound sick – why aren’t you taking medicine?” HOW do you answer this? With a deep breath and “yeah, I have a cold, I am taking some medicine – thanks”. I mean really – what else can I say?

But don’t get me wrong – she LOVES our little girl; she looks after lil missy every Monday and I can tell she loves it. And when she calls me she DOES sometimes ask about Amira towards the middle/end of the conversation… she’ll even ask about hubby as well (I know right, how the times have changed!) and how she feels she hasn’t seen him in ages.

But not me – and not about what I’m doing or got planned for the day, or if her call is disturbing me from work etc. No, instead my mum jumps strainght into her conversation and wat is frustrating her at this VERY MILLISECOND and that I, as her daughter, her one and only child – the one she raised all by herself MUST stop whatever I am doing and listen, help and fix her issue… even if it is the EXACT same situation she has already told me of 4 times before in the last other 4 converstations (of which I may have provided a solution but that it does not meet her requirements.

Take for example my converstion with her but minutes ago – as soon as I picked up and said salam she was straight into it “remember how I went to the chemist yesterday? Well they didn’t have the medication for my prescription – so I went to another one today and they said only the chemist in Applecross has this – WHAT will I do? I MUST have this medication NOW! Plus I have the problem with the neighbour still! There are 5 cars parked in front of their and my house – it makes it very difficult for me to reverse out – I have a new car, I could have an ACCIDENT! WHAT should I DO? Maybe I call police and they talk to them? They don’t understand – you can’t JUST park in FRONT someone house like that!” do you notice how there are no full stops? Because my mum doesn’t use them – I feel the need to tell you that at this exact moment; whilst I’m on the phone to my mum that my lil missy is screaming her lungs out as I was trying to get her down for her afternoon nap and that I KNOW my mum would’ve been able to hear – but she doesn’t even ask what’s going on… why? Because SHE has an issue and I MUST listen and fix it…

And I’m totally stuck – I completely caught up in her “you have to help me because I am your mother and I do everything for you” only its not that she does everything for me – it’s that once upon a time I was a child and THEN she DID do everything for me. And tr as I may to desperately make her understand that in fact, for the last DECADE or so I HAVE been the one to do everything and that the moment I worked out my mum held over my head the fact she’d done it ‘all for me’ as a single parent (so that I “owed” her) I quickly smartened up and thought that I would rather go without than ask for help as I did not want my ‘list’ of ‘debt’ to get any greater.

What frustrates me and upsets me most of all is that there is no possible resolution in this situation because try as I have to explain things it either falls on deaf ears or she changes the subject or will throw the trump card: “I gave birth to you.” I can’t argue with that… so I stay silent and realise its easier to just go along with her.

But it hurts me.

Then she asks why she looks after missy once a week and my mother in law has her for 2 days (it’s really 1.5 days) – where do I go with that? That I don’t get a bigger a debt with you? That I hate asking you for anything as it is now? That it’s easier with my in laws because they have a stroller/car seat/toys and cot at their house that they’ve set up whereas at my mum she expects/asks/insist that I MUST purchase and leave all these things at her place because she has ‘no money’.

Don’t for one second underestimate my mum – she may seem like she ‘has no money’ and by no means is she ‘rolling in it’ but she is VERY smart with her money! We go out, she’ll suggest we go for lunch and ask me to pick a place that I know she’ll like (see; the way she makes it seem like I’m picking out the place?). Once we get to said place she’ll see what she wants and tell me what I should order for her then sits down… we go to her doctor’s appointment and she wants us to park close to hospital =but she never offers to pay for anything=, she wants to go away and visit family overseas and she’ll tell me how much the ticket is and then say “I’ll get the travel agent to call you and tell you ‘details’” (details = price); even on my birthday when she gets me a ‘gift’ it’s something I KNOW she’s already had at home. But she’ll say she has no money… and then proceeds to buy herself a band NEW car… only AFTER telling me that her friends daughter =allegedly= bought their mother a new car and asked her (the friend) that my mother should ask her daughter (me) to buy her a car. And even with this new car she doesn’t come to visit me on grounds of “it’s too far” because to my mum ANY place that is MORE than a 7 – 10 minutes’ drive away is WAY too far away (FYI: my house 15minutes drive from her place; the same distance it is from my in laws place!)

Don’t get me wrong, I am not resentful about the money; money comes and goes and she IS my mum and she HAS raised me all on her own. More than anything I am upset by the “cumulative-ness” of it all. Of all the expectation without warmth, with the total one-way street with no hesitation, with the fact that I seem to be a call centre officer to her so that all I am is the ‘fixer up-er”.

I am just so very emotionally tired and hurt by it all… but have to silently, stoically keep going and pretend that I am ok with ‘this’…

But she still doesn’t ask: “How are you?”

While i was away…

My mum came into my office to see me on Friday 30/04/2010 (I left Friday afternoon but had taken the Thursday off to pack and make sure that all things like holiday insurance, etc were sorted!). I spoke to her on the Saturday to tell her that I was away – to NO avail! Upon trying to tell her she cut me off telling me that she did not want to hear anything that would make her have a car accident (as she was in the car). so I didn’t tell her…

The first week went by and I called her on the Wednesday as apparently she had come into my office on the Tuesday to give me my early birthday present. I told that although I was thankful that she had gotten me something, that all I had wanted (as I had previously told her) was for her to finally accept my decision and accept Mr A. She responded with her usual reference to satan (aka Mr A) and not accepting him. I got off the phone to her and told Mr A that I had still not told her –  he called me chicken poo and told me that I needed to call her back and just tell her…

I called a few days later – mother’s day evening (from outside Discovery Mall, Bali) and listened to her tell me about her problems, what she needed and what I must do for her when I come over, about her doctor’s appointment in July, about how no one had come to visit her on mother’s day, etc – I cut her off and told her that I could not talk to her for very long as the call would cost a small fortune from Bali and that I WAS calling to wish her a happy mother’s day.

I then had to hear her go on about how she thought I was going to Jakarta – I told that I had said to her that Mr A and I were intending to go to Indonesia, I never stated which part! She then went on (and on) about how Bali is predominantly not Muslim and why would I go to where there are no Muslims? I told her that there were Muslims everywhere; that a lot of Muslims come to Bali – that in fact she used to live there! She commented that thi was before she went for haj and that I should know better – that who knows what food I was eating. I said to her that I think she forgets that I speak nearly fluent Indonesian and that I know exactly what meat we are eating! I told her AGAIN that I had previously already told her to stop coming into my office as it undermines my professionalism and makes me looks bad. I got off the phone feeling terrible, frustrated and annoyed and wanting to take photos of the many Hijabi’s and Arabs I saw and send copies of them all to my mum.

I heard nothing from her on my second week.

I didn’t call her at all…

I returned (to Aussie-land) on Friday afternoon and did not tell her.

I spent all weekend doing my own thing and was blissfully happy at the fact that I did not have one single missed call from her (I normally have her call me often) – that when my phone did ring I wasn’t all anxious or distraught about the imminent guilt trip my mm would dish out to me.

I returned to work on Monday and discover that my mum (after talking to me and finding out that I was in Bali) had come into my office 2 more times; one of which was on Thursday to find out when I was coming back – the guy on reception did not know and told her that he was not sure when I was returning.

The irony is that on Sunday Mr A and I sat on the sofa watching a DVD with him telling me that maybe I should visit my mum – tell her that I’ve come back and that I’m ok. The shocking thing is that even after being away from her and not going to see her since January (aside from the times she has seen in my office) I don’t want to see her. I am not angry with her, not at all. I am just tired of it all… SO beyond tired of the repetitive crap that she keeps giving me; the same comments, the same tears and the same emotional intensity that makes me want to move across the country/change jobs/change my number, etc.

But even in saying/writing the above paragraph there is another part of me that wonders why I haven’t heard from her in about a week. A part of me that says a prayer for her hoping that she is ok and hoping that Allah opens her heart to accepting me as I am and the decisions that I have made. And then there is this part of me that wants to call her – not to have a conversation with her as I know that that is unlikely but rather just to hear her voice (sans lamentations) just to know that she’s ok.

But THEN I am overcome with curiosity and against my better judgement I read the birthday card she gave me. Why do I bother? Sentences not particularly worth mentioning include:

“So sad that someone forgot my birthday last time or not ring me – maybe not allowed to send me anything – I know Satan is very strong in your place”

Numerous references to about me and “latnatallah” (it’s a muslim thing that I cannot really explain)

“what you are doing is a big sin and Allah will teach you a lesson”

Comments about how she will be patient and wait for me to come home as God loves those that are patient

That she is my real mother and cannot believe that I am doing this and why won’t I just come home?

Mum had also included some story about how some friend of mine (when I was 14; she was 17 and had a car) took me out and we went to Fremantle and to the beach and that when we came back home late she was really angry/upset and told me that I was not allowed to talk to her anymore and how now look at her life? How she is still single (as far as mum knows) and that she cannot be happy as she lives away from parents etc.

Really – why do I bother? What else can I do to make this stop? I am really beginning to get tired of this; I am beyond frustrated of all of this… I don’t know what else to do – worst yet is that I am baffled by how she seems to still have this way of getting to me? of making me question what I am doing… and with each word that I read and morosely re-read I feel numb, more empty and more resolute at my not wanting to see her. I just want to keep walking; I want to move – I want her to move.

I tried… whilst I was away I told her that we were thinking of coming back to Indonesia in January; that she could go to Jakarta if she liked… she said that she wanted to go to Jakarta in January as long as I went with her… I told her that if she went then that we would visit her – she said she didn’t care about anyone else and that she just wanted to go with me.

My mum – the QUEEN of guilt!

I spoke to my mum last night. I can’t explain how gut-wrenching it is. How there is a largest part of me that is certain that what I am doing is purely a last resort… but then she gets to me. Makes me feel terrible – as though that because I am doing what she wants me to do I certainly not pleasing my mother and therefore going to hell.

Isn’t that just beyond words? Just seeing that typed there makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. At what stage does a Muslim mother need to step off the methodology of enforcing obedience and commence some sort of acceptance?

I see Mr A and I am beyond grateful of having him in my life – of having someone who gets me and understands me. Who loves me and expects nothing more than to make me happy – how I think sometimes he doesn’t listen to me in when I natter about Islam and yet later on down the track proves me wrong by coming out with concepts of Islam. He amazes me – and yet my mum can’t accept this.

Yesterday I got some insight into mum – how she thinks that if she stays strong in her resolution to oppose this that somehow I’ll change my mind. I am shocked by things – that she thinks I would just change my mind? Like I’d just walk through the door and say “oops, I made a mistake but I’m back now and all is well” really? What kind of fantasy-land is that? She says that since she’s gone to Hajj that Allah has given her more strength. I perturbed – I don’t know what to say anymore; she’s has an uncanny knack for making doubt things – she says that one of my cousins (who I confide in) may say one thing to me but that they cannot believe I’ve done this – that to her I am appalling… and I don’t know what to say. Is my mum trying to make me second guess Fifi? Would she say that?

I hate it – I hate how when I don’t call her for a couple days I want to check up on her and make sure she’s ok. I want to touch base. But then when I do talk/listen to her I wan to get off the phone ASAP and hate how I feel afterwards. I think about how it’s been like this for years – how its not really because of Mr A. that our dysfunction has been here a looonnngg time; but she doesn’t see any of that – she doesn’t see all the times I lied saying I was on campus (at uni) when my classes were really only 4 times a week. She doesn’t see all the days off I took from work but pretended to have training days, all the times my uni days seem to stretch on for longer than they needed to be so I wouldn’t have to home til later; how I would actually purposely choose tutorials at 8.30am and then another tutorial at 4.30pm on the same day so that I would need to be on the 6.30am bus to get to campus 20 minutes before the tutorial and be home by about 7pm. She doesn’t see the countless journal entries where all I wanted was a way out. The way I wouldn’t let her pay for anything that I wanted or needed for h\fear of having hear her say “but I did this and this for you – all I ask is that you do that and that”.

But then she doesn’t see all the Arabic guys who have been interested in me but fled when they truly realised how intense my mum is. How the ones that didn’t care were nerdy idiots that could string an intelligible conversation together past “what did you have for dinner?” that my mum thought sweet and kind that I would sooner remain a spinster that marry – but because they came from a good family who cared that what they looked like or that we didn’t get along. She doesn’t see how Mr M was disappointed that he couldn’t spend time with me when I was over there and I was hoping things to progress because she stifled him by expecting him to ask for my hand then and there.

I am torn. I have no idea what to say or do for my mum anymore.

Mr A is great though – he tells me that he’s here for me; that he’ll do whatever I need him to do. That I am his princess.

Wednesday Dinner

So normally since I’ve moved out from mum’s place I will go to her house for dinner on the Wednesday. On this night I will be forced to eat til busting capacity, contend with menial tasks that my mum has saved for me to do (which I admit in the grand scheme of things I seriously cannot be bothered with), have to hear consistent lamentations about a distinct constant ‘lack’ of money coupled with the ever mounting bills along with how much I am being “driven” away from her by ‘that man’.

Last night when I was dealing with the chaotic mayhem involved with dark, rainy and windy rain + peak hour traffic + the maddening inability people seem to have to merge lanes properly I was on the phone with mum (with my hands-free of course). So there I was; up until that call all calm and serene, happy with the fact that I was going to have a gloriously cooked dinner at Mr A’s place (his mum slow cooked lamb shanks – yum) then go to the movies to watch The Year One movie (starring Jack Black). So I’m on the phone to mum asking her how her day went and I must admit that I cannot remember the whole conversation but I began to get pained, frustrated by what she was saying; even more so that I have been silenced into not responding to her ‘claims’ – I looked at the silver Toyota Kluger in front of me and for some morose sickening reason I desperately felt an overwhelming urge to drive into it… fast… HARD!

I was listening to what she was saying; how when I tried to interject how she had misinterpreted things I was told to listen to what she had to say – that she didn’t want to argue with me but that I was being driven away from her by Mr A; that he had made me leave her and that I was being taken away from her.

Ugh – there was a few other things but with each word was getting more and more frustrated at the futility of this all – they way my mum will not talk to family members about my engagement as its “none of their business” but tis more than happy to rain hail guilt at me but if I attempt to respond I made to feel like a worse daughter than I already am.

I told her ‘goodnight’ – I said to her that I was busy (I was – I was driving). I wasn’t going to talk to someone who doesn’t let me talk at all (and then when I do talk refuses to listen) and that I was tired of going over the same old ground without making any progress.

I got off the phone feeling TIRED. And ANNOYED… with myself for letting her get to me! for allowing her behaviour to make me feel tired and drained and frustrated and terrible and making me feel like I did want to drive over the narrows bridge.

But I didn’t (obviously).

ALL night I felt like I seriously would rather do anything else instead of having dinner/go see mum the following night (Wednesday/tonight). the missed calls from her at 8pm, then 10.30pm and then again at 1.45am and 4.45am did nothing to quell my feelings. I woke up this morning and although the feeling had slightly subsided (so that thoughts of driving off a bridge were no longer at the forefront of my mind) the thought of spending Wednesday night with my mum filled me with a heavy sigh…

Then I went to work and got a missed from her… and another missed call. I called her back;

It was about a water bill – why were they sending her a letter? What is it about? Let me read it to you so you can call them and fix it. I cannot do this – I have too many bills. My phone bill too high. I am stressed.

Yep – because I have no bills, and I am totally stress free. And why don’t you sit down and relax and then read the letter? Why do you assume the worst? Maybe if you stopped calling overseas so much then your phone bill wouldn’t be so high? Umm – do you know that this is not categorically thought of as an emergency and therefore does not warrant you calling me at work…

*HUGE deep sigh* So I take the number for the water corp. and her reference number and sort it out… for her and tell her I’ll call her back. And I discover that she did not pay the bill and that it’s a notice as it’s a bit late.

Yet another thing for me to do.

Yet another thing that she will not be thankful for because it will be assumed that doing these things are my responsibilities. That I am here to fix and pay for this stuff and that heaven help me if I bring it up to her that essentially she’s the parent and it is her responsibility but to her its not because she gave birth to me and that therefore everything that happens since that and her raising me is what I should be doing (sorry; I’m ranting).

So I call her and tell her that I am not coming tonight for dinner because I am not the happiest person to be around at the moment; that I am tired of the way she assumes the worst about Mr A (when really a major factor I keep trying to reconcile with her is because Mr A tells me to because if I had my way I’d have lied and told her I’ve moved to the UK or something) and that although she says she won’t mentions anything I am still tired of it all and that I will call her later on that night… oh AND that I’ll be paying this bill (too) along with the insurance for the house I don’t reside in anymore.

Then 2 hours later she calls me… and calls again.

So I call her back as it could be an emergency – but its not. its her telling me that she’s stuck in front of the supermarket as she decided to walk there and that now its pelting down with rain and that she was calling me to tell me not that she expected me to pick her up. And when I tell her that I wouldn’t be able to pick her up anyway (because I’m at work) she said that she knew that and that she was just telling me because she was all alone and that it was wet. *sigh*

And even as I write this I see one missed call that I just got from her…

And even though I am filled with this feeling that knows that going to see her tonight is a terrible idea based on my mood I still feel like I am a terrible shit of a daughter who is killing her mother.

Guilt is a strange creature…

Guilt is sadly my shadow…