A letter that is not wrong, from Captain Awkward:
“Dear Captain Awkward,
I did not grow up in a house that did conflict- I joke (but not really) that I wish my parents had fought in front of their children. Because there was never an emphasis on healthy conflict, all conflict equals bad conflict. While I feel that I can talk to my dad about issues, the real problem is my mom.
When my mom calls (every day/every other day), I go through a nerve wracking thought process. If I don’t pick up the phone (because I had a long day, because I don’t want to talk to her or anyone), she’ll become more and more anxious and escalate communication attempts. I find myself yelling to the phone, ““What do you need!?!” as it rings and before picking up. If I do pick up the phone, immediately she’ll ask, “What’re you doing?” in a tone that implies I’m doing something bad. When she calls, it’s rarely about anything time sensitive or an emergency- it’s mostly just to chat.
If she calls when I’m in traffic, and I pick up the phone and say I can’t talk, I’m dealing with driving, her tone is disappointed. However, sometimes driving is the best time to call her, because I can say that I’m home now so I have to go.
For example: I had a very busy day at work. My mom texts me a general “How’s your day going?” type of text. Nothing time sensitive, not an emergency. I see the text and ignore it because I’m in meetings all day and don’t have the brain space to deal with it right then. That evening, I go to a bookclub that my mom and I are a part of. She sees me, and immediately has a wide eyed expression, and exclaims, “Didn’t you see my text? Why didn’t you answer???” Then I have to reassure her that I was busy all day, and besides, I would see her that night.
Recently her most passive aggressive text: She posted in the family text chain, “Any recommendations for a Pandora running station?” at 5:00pm on a Sunday evening. No one responded that night, and the next morning, she posted, “Thanks fam!”
I feel that I’m good about getting back to her- I usually respond to a text within a couple of hours, and never more than 24 hours.
I’ve seen her and my dad every weekend for the past month (which is way too much in my books, but it included some family event things). When I’m at their house with my brother and sister, I find myself constantly making sure that she doesn’t feel neglected or teased. If she feels that we are not bonding as a family as she’d prefer, she lashes out and becomes mopey and angry.
I’d like to not go full nuclear and destroy the relationship, but I’m tired. I’m tired of constantly checking my phone, because if I miss a call I’m going to hear about her anxiety and how much she freaked out. If I miss a text and don’t respond for a couple of hours, I’ll get a “You ok??????” type of text and escalating from there.
What I really need: a way to tell my mom that her constant need for contact and communication is too much. Basically my mom has no chill and low boundaries, plus a heaping dose of mother anxiety. Help me!”
Dear copy of your mother, what you really need is to convince your mom to have boundaries so you don’t have to. It makes sense that if you constantly contact back to her, she will understand that it’s not what you want.
Since you’re tired, one option is to destroy the relationship. Tired people tend to have terrible relationships. In every Die Hard movie, the hero played by Bruce Willis is tired and it has caused problems I know that when I’m tired, I constantly check my phone. Facebook is on there. Even though my mother is pretty much hidden unless I feel like seeing my mom’s Facebook food posts. In which case I look her up.
You say if you miss a call, you’ll hear about her anxiety. I got confused here. How did she get your voice into your ears without a telephone? Is she in the room? In which case why is she calling. The other explanation is that you must have a direct chip in your head.
Gosh, it sucks that she freaked out. I guess it’s your job forever to keep her happy. She’s terribly incapable of happiness without you.
Pandora is a music suggestion generator. Why does she need suggestions from family? You need to invent a music suggestion generator suggestion generator!! Surely with that problem solved, mom won’t need to call you.
It sucks that your mom remote controls your body to make you walk to your car and then drive to your house every weekend. Staying home isn’t an option. If you let her deal with her feelings, nuclear bombs fall out of the sky and kill us all. If only it was an option not to spend every weekend staring at people who don’t know how to stop being disappointed. Wait there is! Close your eyes. Then you can’t see how disappointed she is. Also get the brain chip to your audio receptors in your brain removed so you can’t hear her voice.
Having a disappointed mother is terrible. Continue trying to please her and eventually she’ll stop because that’s how it works. If only you can out control her before she controls you.
Next time she calls while you’re driving, get into an accident while answering the phone. Then she’ll hear you scream and then feel right that she worried
I look forward to the summer blockbuster remake. Your mom wants you to think of her constantly and you are. Everything seems right as rain!
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