Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Role reversal

It was too short. 2 little days but we made the most of it and really enjoyed the visit. It took me more time to get the house sorted before my parents arrived than the length of their stay. But it was worth it and I think they enjoyed it too.

Apart from people pointing out that I was the image of my mother, I have noticed that I am, undeniably, her daughter. When I was growing up, my mum was always on the go, always something to do, cleaning and washing and cooking as well as working full time. Everything had to be not only done, but done her way and to her standard. A lot of pressure she put (without realizing I think) on herself and on other people (ie: my dad, my brother and myself). Whenever we tried to help (voluntarily or not), there, most of the time, was something wrong with what we had done. Most of the time, she would refrain from saying anything. But you could hear the sigh of disapproval, if you hadn't hung the sweater properly, or if you'd missed a spot while hoovering or feel the dark eyes looking at you and whatever you had done disapprovingly. Now don't get me wrong, she is not a tyrant that insists on hanging the washing on the line with same colour pegs. She just likes things neat and tidy and clean, just her high standards of neat and tidy and clean.

I could never understand growing up the need to hoover the sitting room everyday or the rule that forbid anybody to eat in the living room (although I have to say I often broke that one, and yes, Mum, the crumbs under the couch were mine, and yes I had breakfast in front of the television everyday when I was on holidays and old enough to stay on my own). Growing up, I never understood what was so important about making sure my socks were not in a ball before they went into the washing machine, or even why I had to take my dirty clothes out of the bedroom and put them in the washing basket. I never understood why you were giving out about 'what are we going to have for dinner, and why doesn't anybody come up with ideas?', about why you were getting annoyed whenever we were in the kitchen when you were cooking, looking into the pots and pans. I never understood the reason why we had to wipe the sink after ourselves, or wash the suds out after our bath, Or put the towels back on the rack instead of a pile in the corner of the bathroom or all those rules and regulations that we had to go by or else face the wrath of your eyes, telling us: it's not good enough, you didn't follow the rules. I have to say, you ran a tight ship.

But these past few years and this past year in particular, you have relaxed... a lot. Maybe it's the fact that you were immobilised for the best part of a year with back problems and hence discovered the joy of a cleaning lady coming regularly. Maybe it's the fact that all the little birdies have flown the nest and things are not getting as messy as they were. Maybe it's just wisdom. Whatever it is, it has done you good and you don't get as frustrated or annoyed as you were. You take things in your stride a lot more than before, with less stress, a lot more philosophically as Dad would say. This week end, you didn't have to worry about cooking or cleaning or anything else, all of it was done for you. I didn't want the two of you to have to miss a minute of whatever short little precious time you could spend with your grand daughters. And I think I did you proud (although it didn't stop you from hoovering once or doing the dishes). But that person is still there lurking sometimes and you did give out to Dad for getting under your feet while you were baking a treat for all of us.

And I realized today, that I am getting like you (like it or not). I have realized that I expect things to be done to my standards hence sometimes dismissing good intentions. If that's any excuse, I am tired today and I probably got up on the wrong side of the bed too (although that's not possible since one side of the bed is against the wall). My patientometer (my own little meter that measures, as a meter does, patience levels) was way down today. Mr Foodie, in another unrecognized attempt to help, started taking the washing out. I found myself hushing him out of the way, so I could do it because I knew that I would get it done faster (it's the practice you see). I also found myself taking down whatever he had put up, so I could put it my way (it will take less time to dry, you know.) I got frustrated at him for being in my way in the kitchen while I was cooking (although to his credit he was starting on the dishes) and at Marie too because she stirred the flour too hard and spilt some, by an accident as she would say. I got frustrated at the jumper that would not sit neatly on the rad, where I was trying to hang it, in an effort to get it dry faster. I also got frustrated at that stupid car that didn't start today and gave Marie another unexpected day off school. I had no sense of humour and took jokes the wrong way. I also got frustrated tonight at Noelie for trying to grab the spoon and the bowl (and managing it too) and for exercising her vocal cords while I was trying to watch the french news. And I pushed Mr Foodie out of the way while he was trying to change a particularly bad leaky nappy (not his favourite activity though).

So I think my mum is turning into the old me and I am turning into the old her. I recognize it and I want to apologize publicly to everybody in the Foodie household for my shortness of patience today and for not recognizing they were only trying to help (sorry Mr Foodie), or develop their skills (sorry Marie and Noelie). And I promise that tomorrow, I will make an effort and try not to turn into my mother (well at least the old one)!


  1. Lovely blog! I think it's inevitable that we turn into our mothers! Sounds like yours did a pretty good job - you could do worse xx

  2. this is a beautiful blog - and so so resonates with me. We realise now exactly WHY our mothers were the way they were, and we are continueing the cycle... all you can do is look forward to the day when Noelie and Marie are bitching about their kids laundry while you sit back with your feet up, not fretting about anything at all!


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