It has long been my issue that my filter is far too good. Like the Meg Ryan character in “You’ve Got Mail,” my struggle is going mute in the face of outrage. Like she finds, in the movie, I truly acknowledge that most of the time, my filter helps me not to be cruel, but there are a lot of times when my inability to speak out in the moment just means that issues don’t get addressed when they should.
Last week, mom and I went to church on Sunday night. She likes a leisurely meal, so we went out to eat and ended up spending 2 hours at dinner, then another hour plus at the grocery store. I was apoplectic, by the time we got home at 10 p.m., because I had to put away her groceries (by myself), then walk the dog, then feed the animals and sometimes wrap up dishes from earlier in the day… She watches TV in the living room while I do this, and then leaves the living room with the lights and TV on and drifts off to bed as the animals and I head off to bed. She knows that I feel strongly about getting to bed early on Sundays, and none of this makes for an early bedtime.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and although I tried to make it special, in ways large and small, I was in no mood to recap last week. When she asked if I shouldn’t get her reusable bags to put in the car for grocery shopping, I said neutrally “I’m not sure we should go grocery shopping tonight. It gets us home awfully late.”
We went to dinner and only took 1.5 hours, during which I realized that, despite my show of bravado, we had to hit the grocery store so I could return a Redbox from the night before. To my delight, we were in and out in just over 30 minutes. (That never happens.) That meant that I was done walking the dog by 10-ish, after having put away her groceries, and we even had time for her to open her gift. So much better. I don’t actually have anything against her grocery shopping, I just need to be allowed to get to bed at a decent hour on Sundays.
But at the end of the night, she wandered out of the living room with the lights and TV on. I said, calmly, “if you’re watching TV by yourself in the living room, could you turn off the TV and the light, please?” In the past, she’s said that she wasn’t sure if I was still watching, which is sometimes the case on a weeknight, but if I haven’t been in the living room in 30 minutes or more, we can reasonably assume I’m done.
I don’t know why it’s been easier to seethe with rage for the last x number of months than to say that, but it took a lot for me to say it. She seemed a little surprised that it was a thing for me, but said “sure.” And that was it. Heaven knows she could be on a slow burn (I’m reticent to confront things with her for lots of really good reasons based on a lifetime of experience, said every one of her kids and most others who know her well), but honestly, if we were going to fight about this, we were always going to fight about it, because I wasn’t exasperated or confrontational about it, I just mentioned it calmly and was done. And it’s a more than reasonable request of a woman who has lectured me about leaving lights, etc. on in abandoned rooms for my entire life.