A Royal Visit

We’re having a royal visit – my mum’s coming to stay, all 5’ 4” of her. We’ve been spring cleaning over the past week as inevitably my mother will closely be inspecting our dusty surfaces. She is the only one that calls me by my god given name despite having answered to my nick name since the second year of primary school. She starts every telephone conversation with “It’s your mother”; as if I wouldn’t recognise her dulcet tones. The royal “we” usually means that my Dad’s being reluctantly dragged away from his garden and has acquiesced for the sake of peace.

My relationship with my mother has always been a problematic one for us both though I don’t doubt that she loves me. We have struggled to communicate with each other since I could talk and continue to struggle; neither of knowing how to reach out and say what we both need to hear.

Over the years I have become immune to her criticism, adopting the Star Trek avoidance technique also known as “deflector shields up”. So when I was told after having my hair cut shorter, “I preferred it longer” or after modelling a new dress “it’s a shame you’ve got your Dad’s ankles”; I am now able to inhale deeply and move on. The casual barbs bounce straight off me, no longer causing me the anguish that they did when I was an awkward teenager.

So when we are invited to Ahmed’s family home, she won’t see a house filled with generations of laughter and joyful meals shared. All she will see is the abundant tacky ornaments and junk filled garden; what she won’t see is the small vegetable plot in the corner lovingly tended by Ahmed’s mother and the children’s hand knitted clothes which were painstakingly made by gentle hands. She will shudder with revulsion when the meal is served on the floor and tut fiercely when Ahmed sets the plates down on top of old newspapers.

My beloved adopted family are simple folk who will be hurt and bewildered by her disapproving looks and less than enthusiastic reception of their hospitality. She will only visibly relax when she is returned to the comfort of her five-star Hotel preferring it to real Turkish genuine heartfelt hospitality. And my mother will return to England with a few holiday trinkets having missed out on so much more. My adopted family are content in a way that many of us will never be and at the end of the day that is what makes them rich.

We are rich only through what we give, and poor only through what we refuse.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

72 thoughts on “A Royal Visit

  1. Well, I guess this post is a great start to her visit, haha! I have learned (the hard way) that when you genuinely try to see the other person’s side of the story by asking questions, and not by assuming things, communication tends to get better and the relationship easier. Hope my pearl of wisdom will do you good! Good luck and patience and make sure you enjoy her visit too.

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  2. That’s sad…and embarrassing…and very FAMILIAR to me. The (not even realized) backhanded remarks, the judgment, the arguing… But it’s nice that Ahmed’s family is so receptive. I wonder if there is a way to “cushion the blow” so to speak.

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  3. Sometimes, every now & then, just when you weren’t expecting it, they can surprise you… but if not then at least you are expecting the worst, which is better than expecting better and being disappointed. Can you get Rescue Remedy (or its equivalent) in Turkey? For you, & if you can put a few drops in her water bottle, your mum… it chills out any situtaion 🙂

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  4. I know of what you speak. The day of my wedding, my mother said, “do you think he’ll show up.” Unfortunately he did. But that’s another story. I’m throwing a protective spell around Ahmet’s family so that whatever she says or does that’s less than complimentary, they won’t notice.

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  5. Your thoughts reminded me our a quote by George Eliot: “Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are.” May we always to open to those who offer hospitality – it is the greatest, most noblest gift. The other thought comes from my son, who reminds me that it is within everyone’s power to make another person happy: some by entering the door and others by leaving…Always enjoy stopping by for a visit.

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  6. I think it’s always more stressful when family come to stay, than when friends drop by. It’s probably because we choose our friends carefully, but family is something we have thrust upon us. I hope your mom comes with the intention of enjoying her stay. That will make all the difference. Good luck. 🙂

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  7. Oh dear, I well remember those days of Mother descending, with her critical eye and waspish tongue – all because she was as nervous as me, as it turns out – but it took us 60 years to finally work each other out – no, no, no, I mean come to accept each other as she is/was! It’s the unintended hurt to Ahmed’s family that stresses you out the most – would it be possible for you and A to take everyone out for an outing in the country, complete with picnic? Good luck 🙂

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  8. i feel a little sad for your mum though, she will never know that feeling of love you are surrounded by she will never feel the same contentment you feel and your adopted family, she will never know the simple joys uncluttered feelings the happiness that comes with just being, for her life is so different she may never be free from the tyranny that she lives under, maybe when she comes something some tiny thing may happen and then she too could join and in and finally feel the same sense of inner peace that comes with a natural love, i hope she does get there and i hope she is with you when she does, i wish both of you the love that it is needed for you both to communicate and be happy, thinking of you xx

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  9. Oh my, I feel your pain and know it well. I too have a very opinionated (and non-supportive) mother. (And she HATES that I live in Norway).
    But we are grown up women who no longer need our mothers approval. All you can do is prepare
    your adoptive family for whats in store and hope for the best.
    Now I understand your desperate need for raspberry vodka…
    Good luck!

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  10. My mother visited me once in Texas, in thirty years one time. She told me after the visit she didn’t feel welcome. I thought, well okay then you didn’t see what you were expecting or desired. Thus the welcome mat didn’t seem out.

    Good luck, I hope your mother at least sees you are happy in your life, feels the love that surrounds you. Perhaps that will appease her judgement.

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  11. I wouldn’t hold my breath on mum giving any pleasant surprises on a miraculous change of attitude. But, the main thing is you’ve adjusted your own. It is her loss…how enriched her life could be if she had your eyes!
    My mom will often ‘one-up’ me. I’ve nearly given up on telling her anything about me because she or one of her friends have done it bigger or better. It has become less painful as I’ve had to adjust my attitude, too, but my ‘deflector shield’ must have a few holes in it because the barbs do get through just a bit.

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  12. Sigh…. I could have used that “deflector shields up”, too. Sadly, it wasn’t until my mom developed Alzheimer’s that I could be around her without all the judgemental bits. Of course, by then, it was too late. These days I mourn all the “might have beens.”
    Hope you can manage to work out an uneasy truce at the very least. That is something I finally managed in the later years.

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    • Gunta, I’ve gone through a few kleenex reading this particularly, as I have these thoughts all the time and fear that I will be mourning all the “might have beens” too. Bless you for sharing that with me because it’s good to know I’m not the only one

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  13. I know moms could be our worst critics, but deep inside we know they have good intentions behind those disapproving looks. Don’t lose hope, maybe your mom is one of those hard candies with a surprise center 🙂

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  14. Oh, dear girl, I wish I could give you a hug. I had a very accepting mother. She used to smile and say, “Seven children, and not one of them in jail!” She died young, before I had kids, but I have tried to make my house a place where everyone feels safe and accepted for who they are. I believe that ‘family’ is a privilege you earn, and not a license for cruelty. I think you already understand this, as you have adopted a new family, loving and comfortable and safe. Good for you, and lucky them!

    Your mother is probably never going to change who she is. Pity her for her impoverished emotional life, but please don’t give her the power to hurt you. Red alert! Raise shields! Still, I would protect my adopted family by keeping contact to a minimum, as little as possible. Neutral ground is good, too.

    Also, it might be interesting to call your mother on her bad behavior. I once had a mean and bitter relative who was always tearing down people, especially my mom. As soon as I was old enough to understand what was happening, I countered her cruel remarks and barbs with, “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you might be trying to be hurtful, but what kind of person would want to do that?” It really shut her up! At the very least, you could call attention to her behavior, and make her aware of how often she does it. “Oh, Mom, there you go again!” By making a joke of it, you are diminishing the power and the poison, and I would hope she would be embarrassed by having her own rude behavior called for what it was.

    Once, more than thirty years ago, when I was a waitress in the Tetons, I got stiffed by a woman who was furious because I wasn’t allowed to serve alcohol, and the poor cocktail waitress was swamped with orders. I was patient and polite, and served her dinner. She finished, and left a penny on the table, a pointed insult that was worse than leaving nothing. I called after her, “Excuse me, Ma’am.” She stopped and turned, and I put the penny in her hand. I smiled and said sweetly, “I think you need this more than I do.”

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  15. WowWee! I too am behind! I didn’t realize you were back in Turkey. Yay! And as far as mum visiting… family will be family will be family will be family…. I look forward to reading how it all evolves. You’ve gotten some very good advise here I’m reading….

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  16. It is amazing what we will do if we believe it will keep us safe, or maybe I should say keep our heart safe even to the point of shutting out the love around us and pushing those people away. Praying for your Mom’s heart to be safe enough to be able to receive the love being offered to her by you and Ahmed’s family. Praying for your wounded heart to be healed from where your Mom’s woundedness has wounded you.

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  17. I am behind as usual, and you may be in the thick of it as I read. As a daughter and a mother, I can now see both sides of this Tink. My mother was the same; backhanded, offhanded (at my wedding she said aloud ‘i give you 6 months and that was 32 years ago), seemingly meant to put me in my place. What I realized later in life, after becoming a mother, was that as a woman growing up in a family where her voice was not heard, nor welcome, she never learned the skill of intimate or personal conversation. Even as a ‘grown up’ living her own life, in her own home, with her own children, she knew she had the ability to speak her mind on intimate and personal issues, yet she still did not have the skill.
    Frustration and fear seemed to be the place these comments to me came from. Frustrated because she wanted me to be safe and happy but didn’t know how to tell me, and fear that I would not, and she didn’t know how to tell me I’d always have a safe place to go to if I needed it.
    The one good thing I can say about my relationship with my mother today is this…the happier she saw me, the more mature I became, the more open I was with my own children…the easier she found it to just come out and talk about whatever it was she needed to say.
    I can only hope, for you, the day arrives when your mother can look at you and see your true self, your happy self, and know that’s it’s time to treat you as a woman and friend first and daughter second. Does that make any sense?
    Hope for all good things Tink. Truly
    xo

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    • As usual Rhonda, you are the voice of common sense. I have to be honest and say that I have never considered this viewpoint and I hope you’re right that one day we can communicate putting all past hurts behind us. Bless you for that x

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      • I’m thinking that you will be the one to make the move Tink…she may not be able to. But I’ll just say, it is worth it. Hard yes, but worth it. There are times growing up we need them…there are times when we are grown up that they need us…this might be one of those times. Good luck my friend…I hope you get there, together.
        xo
        R

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  18. not sure if mom already came, but best of luck! im sure she will love the fact that you are in love, and most importantly, that you are loved. if not, get her wasted so you can blame her bad behavior on a more serious problem other than blatant rudeness :o)

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  19. I am getting caught up..and there are so many things running through my mind right now…how I sympathize and completely understand…and I’m so glad you received such great comments of support. I hope everything went oaky. I also hope your deflector shield was operational…and that you did not have to fire phasers or photon torpedoes!

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  20. I had a wonderful mom, but can’t say the same of some other judgmental relatives. Totally empathise with you. Do hope it went off well and you and your adopted family remain unscathed 🙂

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