When I got home last night, I mentioned my concern about mom being negative in how she talked about the house, and how that could easily turn into a spiral that really keeps things from getting better.
To my surprise, she eagerly agreed. She’d found some cabinets in the basement and wanted to use them to solve a problem she’d spotted. I agreed that I had no other intention for the cabinets and had mostly forgotten they were there. I agreed to help her get things brought down there and put away, and I prioritized doing that. I also suggested that we pick a handful of projects that we can do just so that we feel more at home in the house (hanging pictures, etc.), and unpacked my father’s military flag and put it on the mantel, to show I was serious.
She’s also been complaining about my being predictable, lately, and I explained that I’m deliberately predictable on her behalf, because it gives her a reliable structure. She likes time to think, and she doesn’t like to be caught off-guard, so I let her know in advance when I’m thinking I’ll cook or when we’ll go out to dinner, and I ask, when we get in the car, where she wants to go. The truth is, I could make all the decisions about what and where we eat— it would be less work for me to do it that way, but I want her to have input. I have a lot more freedom to go where I want and do what I want than she does. When we go out together, unless I have a strong preference, in which case I’ll tell her in advance or give her a curated list, I let her make some choices. In fairness, I don’t always take her suggestion— I often say “well, I don’t feel much in the mood for that, how about x instead?” or “here’s what will be convenient to the next thing we’re doing..”
Mom kept talking about how, in the wake of our conversation(s), we were finally seeing progress and how we hadn’t, previously, made progress. She talked about how last night was a celebration (a celebration marked by the heating of leftovers and watching the same shows we watch every Tuesday, but celebrations are in the eye of the beholder) and how watching “Hollywood Game Night” made her feel like she was at a party without the hassle of having to dress up and go somewhere. As someone who’s been working pretty hard to make progress for a few weeks now, I had to remind myself not to take the bait, just to take the victory.