Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Family Functionality

I'm out of sorts this week, and it's my own fault.  Lily had a rough start to her week last Monday (Fun and Games with Law Enforcement) but we had a good session with her therapist on Tuesday and moved into a more positive mental space.

So what's the problem?  I was called out of town mid week, and planned to take Lily and her brother with me. My mom offered to take care of the kids so they could stay in school while I was away.  I had misgivings and talked with mom about her ability to handle things, but she reassured me she was comfortable with it.  So, I accepted her offer.

And it was awful.  Lily is worlds better than even a couple of months ago, but she has issues that will take time to address.  Mom exploded on Lily over an emotional incident.  Lily phoned me, and I talked through the event with her.  I calmed her down and suggested she approach mom with an apology and an offer to take care of kitchen clean up.  Before Lily could get to the apology, mom started yelling again, effectively shutting down Lily's efforts.

Mom wasn't able to regulate her emotions, even after she and I spoke on the phone.  Her tirade continued through the next day.  Lily was upset, but maintained her composure with lots of phone time with me, and lots of support from her little brother.  My older son was able to step in and care for Lily and her brother until my return a couple of days later.

So I have some mixed feelings.  On the up side, Lily did an amazing job of holding it together in a highly stressful situation.  I'm also really pleased that Lily and her brother bonded through this, supporting each other.  I'm so proud of both of them.

Then there's my disappointment over my mom.  When she's good, she's very, very good.  When she's bad, she horrid.  I was worried that she might not handle everything the way I'd like, but I didn't think she'd fly off the handle in such a spectacular way.  I need to talk to her about it, but things are especially hectic and it'll have to wait.

So I made a mistake when I accepted mom's offer.  We have enough history that I should have known better.  And sure, it brings up plenty of stuff from my childhood.  When Lily called and told me what happened, I knew just what mom sounded like.  That's not something I should expose my kids to.  But they love her, and there are times they can enjoy each other's company.

Am I teaching them lessons about acceptance, about our ability to handle faults and adversity?  Or am I teaching them to accept being treated unacceptably?  Will it make a difference if I ask mom to apologize?

The kids are moving on, but what are they taking from this?  Am I making too much of it?  I have no objectivity.  I wish I knew how a healthy family would handle this, but I don't think a healthy family would encounter this situation.  Time to get some professional advice.


  1. Moms can be tough. And the problem with family is we're stuck with them forever. I am sure you will handle it as best you can. You always seem to come through these things so well.

  2. Yikes, this is scary territory, I would also seek advice. It's great that the kids did ok through it.