A few months ago, I wrote a post about Mom’s Lawful Neutral habit of pawning her stuff off on me. This is why I own a Ugly Don Quixote Statue (On sale now! Make me an offer!). It is also why I have a pair of Not-Ugly-Yet Equally-Worthless German Beer Steins.
Mom always knows the precise moment to start her sales pitch. She waits until I’m placid, unsuspecting, and sated after a big meal. I’ll be sitting there drinking her coffee, nibbling her cookies, and perusing her huge stacks of mail-order catalogs, chatting with her about this and that, when she says, “Oh. That reminds me of something. Let me show you something. I think you might want it.”
Before I can fully brace myself for what’s about to happen next, she hands me Something Awful.
Whatever the Something Awful is, I don’t want it. Because of course I don’t. It’s awful.
But Mom is undeterred.
She explains that my opinions about this Something Awful aren’t wrong exactly, just a bit too narrowminded. I’m failing to see The Big Picture. Actually, I do want this Something Awful, she says. In fact. I don’t just want it, I probably really want it. Then she gives me her reasons. There are many reasons. If Mom was more technically savvy, this would be the moment she’d break out the PowerPoint.
Long story short, I’m driving home with the Something Awful belted into the backseat to make sure it doesn’t get jostled.
Since my Don Quixote post, I have hardened my resolve against such gaslighting. Mom’s most recent “Take My Crap” overtures were met with a polite yet firm “No.”
But Mom is Mom. She is persistent and German. She does not drift gently into the night.
The other week Mom had to run an errand near where I lived. She told me about it, and I, being the wonderful son that I am, offered to take her out to lunch afterwards. She happily agreed.
At precisely the scheduled time (remember, German), I heard her car pull up. I peeked out the front window and there she was, trundling up my driveway weighed down with some framed artwork.
This was an egregious escalation in the “Take My Crap” battle of wills. In the past Mom would only push stuff off on me while I was visiting her. Now she was bringing stuff to me? This kinda felt like a violation of the Geneva Convention. How can I be expected to defend myself against this? Am I supposed to tell Mom to take the stuff back? Should I make her lug all that crap back to her own house? But what about her bad hip?
And even if I did tell her to take the crap back, she wouldn’t. She’d leave it with me and say, “Look, if you don’t want it, throw it away,” knowing very well that I never would.
So I was blindsided. Miffed. And a little impressed, actually.
“Is grandma here?” Alex called from his room.
“She sure is,” I replied.
I couldn’t see the artwork she was carrying to my front door, but I recognized the frames. This was my art. Mom wasn’t just bringing me crap, she was bringing me crap that only existed because of me.
“Let me show you something,” Mom said as she breezed into my foyer with a spring in her step far more suited to someone without an artificial hip. “I think you might want it.”
Mom smiled as I accepted the art without argument. She handed me two pieces; a watercolor of a bicycle and a charcoal drawing of a pensive chimp.
“Ooh. When did you do the monkey?” Alex asked.
“Fifth grade. It was one of the first things I did when I started taking lessons.”
“Wow. It’s good.” he said. “I like it!”
“Want to hang it in your room?” I asked.
And so more unwanted crap from my past joins the pile of unwanted crap I’ve been unwittingly collecting. My attic is getting very full.
Mom and I went out to lunch as planned. We had a lovely time. We enjoy each other’s company. She’s fun to talk to. She really is a good person, mostly.
She even picked up the check; Mom is nothing if not generous in victory.