Monday afternoon, 3:00 pm.
Mom (singsong): “Hellooooo!” The woman is extraordinarily, almost annoyingly chipper due in no small part to her Lexapro (aka “happy pills”).
Me: (cringing, but trying to sound happy to hear from her) “What’s going on?”
Mom: “Not much. What were you hoping for?” (She laughs.)
Me: “Not much, so that’s good.” (Because anything more than “not much” requires assistance from a team of EMS responders, or at the very least, yours truly.)
Mom: “Do you have my pills?” She had asked my sister and me to pick them up on Saturday. They were still in my car on Monday afternoon.
Me: “Yes. I guess I should have given them to B.” (Who saw her on Sunday.)
Mom, judgementally: “You know, I haven’t been taking my pills because I don’t HAVE my pills.” Implying that I’m delinquent in my caregiving duties for not delivering them in a more timely fashion. Never mind the fact that she never TOLD anyone that she was OUT of pills, nor did she ASK for them any sooner. Gah.
Mom: “I called twice today. Where were you?” Oh, now I have to account for myself.
Me: “I was working. Dishes, laundry, elliptical machine…you know.” Trying to remember who I am because my life has been all about making sure that she didn’t DIE all summer.
Mom: (pauses a beat) “Really?”
Me: (snaps) “Why is it that every time you call I feel like I have to account for every single moment spent away from you? Why do I feel like the way I choose to spend my time is worthless unless I’m wiping someone’s butt or driving them somewhere?”
Mom: “I didn’t SAY anything….you’re being a BAD GIRL today.”
Me: (Fuming) “Okay, that’s it. I need to end this phone call. I have to get the kids off the bus soon anyway.”
Mom: “Oh? And what are YOU going to do in the 20 minutes before the bus comes?” (translation: You’re utterly incapable of accomplishing anything meaningful in 20 minutes, so you’d better just stay on the phone with me.) I had planned to try to lower my blood pressure by flipping through a magazine in my last few moments of peace for the day.
Mom, quickly, before I can argue: “Do I have a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday?”
Me, sighing through clenched teeth: “No, Mom. Tuesday and Thursday. Dentist. 11:30 both days.” We hash out doctors’ appointments.
Mom: “So, how do I clean that George Foreman grill?” Apparently when my sister cooked for her over the weekend, she didn’t have time to wait for the grill to cool so she could clean it before she left.
Me: “A soapy paper towel should do it…on second thought, never mind. I’ll take care of it next time I come over.” I envisioned this frail woman trying to wrangle the entire grilling unit over the kitchen sink, and likely, dropping it on her already broken toe.
Mom: “Okay. And when you come, I need help finding my checks.” She’d lost a stack of checks to be deposited somewhere on her cluttered kitchen table last Tuesday, the day when she fell (perhaps slipping on the aforementioned checks on the floor?) and breaking her aforementioned toe.
And because she’s a sick old lady, I stay on the phone with her, listening to her narrate the Food Network program she’s watching. We discuss the merits, or lack thereof, of deep-frying canned biscuit dough.
Mom: “Well, I guess I’ll go.” And with that, she finally releases me from telephonic bondage.
Mothers. Can’t live with ’em, can’t smother ’em with a pillow.