So as it turns out, I'm not my mother.
It's useful to be reminded of this because whenever I lose patience with my kid, the specter of my mother looms behind me. It's useful because whenever I'm depressed and feeling needy, my mother's face stares back at me from behind my forehead. And it's interesting to note that my clearest memories of my mother's parenting involve half-full jelly jars full of Franzia sloshing around and a shaky barefoot thing in terrycloth shorts towering over me shouting "most mommies say they love their children even when they're angry but I'm not most mommies and if you cross me right now I will FUCKING KILL YOU" and perfectly reasonable conversations on Sunday afternoons about how she never wanted kids in the first place so it's pleasantly surprising we turned out okay anyway and my memories still fall short of the reality.
She's medicated now, so that's useful. My biggest apprehension was that she'd scar my kid for life, but discovering that we were opening a birth center with a (gasp) profit motive was enough to flip her switch from "manic" to "depressive" so she spent the bulk of her visit under a haze of lorazepam, two of which my daughter found on the floor after they left. And I was able to get the raised beds in and half the yard thatched because rather than entertain them all weekend, they holed up in my bedroom and slept all day such that we were incapable of, you know, getting clothes and stuff. She would occasionally send her husband out to request food, usually an hour or two after we mentioned in passing on their way to the bathroom that meals would be prepared. The food requested rarely aligned with the meals prepared. At one point my stepfather was instructed to accompany me to the store because I cannot be trusted to purchase canned soup.
And that's an interesting one, too. My relationship with my stepfather is complex but objectively speaking, he's the best grandparent my side of the family can produce. He can hold a conversation, he's healthy and hale, he expresses interest in small people and he remembers names. My stepmonster is a quaint fellow that bears a striking resemblance to Dr. Huer from Buck Rogers that can take my daughter out on her pushbike for an hour and a half. I had lengthy discussions with him about Umberto Eco and Zoroastrianism. He's a career bureaucrat with the federal government whose exceedingly piss-poor taste in women happens to benefit my current family and my aims greatly while also destroying my former family. Which, hey, needed to be destroyed from before I was born. So... emotions are complex around that one.
The couch, as it turns out, isn't a bad place to sleep. Other than the fact that you can't cuddle with your loved one. We spent 4 days there. My mother took one shower the entire time, but never changed her clothes. She's long been fond of polyester blends and has always considered deodorant to be a plot of the patriarchy; I had to smuggle it in as a teenager. But the laundry is done (WASH ALL THE THINGS) and they're a memory and I will never be my mother.
My father has had a new girlfriend for about five years now. She's compulsive and a hoarder. As my father put it "I went from one crazy woman to another, but at least this one's just crazy. The first one was crazy and mean." It was interesting me to see her deprived of alcohol, medicated to the gills, sort of a Mrs. Potatohead of disdain and flatulence. She never lashed out, she never hit anyone, her verbal pyrotechnics were much diminished, but her face pinched up in disapproval every time anyone but her husband spoke. It was like watching a trigger pulled on an empty gun. You're safe, but you know that someone wants you dead.
And it's easier grappling with my bullshit emotions surrounding money when I recognize what a truly crazy place they come from. My sister described my parents as "antipreneurial" and commented that the last time my mother flipped the switch while visiting her, it was because she floated the idea of flipping houses with her housing-contractor husband. Never mind the fact that the stepmonster owned an 8-plex and flipped a half-dozen houses with his dead wife; if we do it, it's because we're yuppie scum. Pretty easy to look down your nose at people when you're pulling down a 95% government pension until you die and social security and, somehow, not sure how she wrangled this, a $3k a month alimony payment even though she remarried.
There are about two pickup truck bed's worth of plumbing fixtures in boxes in the spare bedroom. Faucetdirect.com had a sale that ended March 31 and our contractor is still a few weeks out from plumbing. Home Depot, for their part, canceled part of our order because who the fuck orders five sinks?
I do. Because I'm a filthy fucking capitalist.
But at least I'm not a mean filthy fucking capitalist.