Monday, March 5, 2012

Queen of the Guilt Trip

"Daddy are you talking to Mema?"
"Yes. How can you tell?"
 "Because you're yelling."

An amusing, but not very proud moment in my parenting career. Yes, I was on the phone, talking to my mom. And yes, I was talking rather loudly. "Yelling," as Peanut described. You shouldn't yell at your mom, right? Not ever. I agree... unless she's taking you on a never-ending guilt trip that has spanned three weeks, two states, and several phone calls.

Image from zazzle.com
My mom is an Italian princess. But for the purpose of this story, she is The Queen... The Queen of the Guilt Trip.

Like My Director and I, you've surely visited the websites and read the guide books. You've planned itineraries and scheduled character breakfasts. All to make your child's Disney trip - her first, mind you - special. Memorable. Unforgettable.

And it was after we completed that process that The Queen started her guilt trip. For it was not until then that she learned she was not invited to Disney to celebrate Peanut's birthday, but her grandparent counterparts were.

First, The Queen lulled me into submission with platitudes. Telling me how excited she was for us. How much fun it will be for Peanut. She even said she'd rather celebrate Peanut's birthday after the trip instead of before, so she could see pictures. She had me totally fooled. Little did I know the guilt trip was coming. It started with a nonchalant, high-pitched, "okay" More emphasis on the "O" than they "kay." You hear that, you know trouble's brewing.

When she finally decided she was in fact upset, The Queen piled on the "me's" and "I's." The first-person pronoun is still a sharp, stinging weapon. I was ill-prepared to respond to statements like, "You didn't think of ME." And, "I am very hurt." Then there was the very effective and fully loaded, "I won't get to see MY granddaughter's first reaction when she sees the Magic Kingdom." Ouch. But that doesn't hurt nearly as much as...

The Widow Card: This may not apply to all, but in extreme cases of guilt-tripping, The Queen will in fact invoke widow in several ways. First, she will simply state the fact. "I'm a widow," meaning this hardship entitles her to certain privileges and considerations. Second, she plays the other side of the widow card by invoking dead father. Very tricky and very effective. "If your father were alive, would we be invited on this trip?" My answer: No. (That didn't help matters.) In most cases, invoking widow is highly effective. Not only does it tug at the heart strings and make the tripee wonder "what if," but it is also difficult to dispute true statements (I'm a widow) and outrageous hypothetical statements (If you're father were alive...)

Once she effectively deployed the widow card, she had me so off balance that she smoothly moved on to the complete denial of reality. The Queen had successfully managed to whittle away at my defenses to the point that I'd believe anything. Namely, that she and my mother-in-law not only get along, but actually enjoy each other's company. The fact is, they're all very nice people, they're just not nice to each other. My Director and I are the only ones who can admit this. Also, it's bad enough I'm going to Disney with my in-laws and staying in the same room as them. I need my mom there too?

She then ended the conversation with, "I'm not trying to make you feel guilty." And she was serious. All while either beginning or ending as many statements as possible with two very strategically placed words: "I understand, my son." "But my son, I'm not upset with you." She's a guilt-trip genius. 

I admit, I made some missteps. I could have handled this part of the trip - The Queen - better. I believe she has a right to be upset - a little upset. And she did raise some valid points.

After all, there was a time where my mom was my favorite person in the world. I think most sons (and daughters) can say that. I was such a momma's boy, it lasted well into high school. And even parts of college. Until that beautiful blonde-haired WASP smiled at me from across a crowded room and captured my heart forever.

Still, my mom taught me how to love. She taught me the importance of family and faith, and the value of a dollar. My senses of loyalty, humor, and creativity come from her. She also taught me how to cook. She protected me and comforted me for all of those years. And how do I repay her? I hurt her feelings, right or wrong. Her guilt trip worked.

So I said, "Mom, we'll go on a family trip next year and we'll bring you. Maybe even back to Disney."

You think that would appease her at least a litte, right? Wrong.

"I could be dead by then."

Game. Point. Set. Match. Long live The Queen.
I found this perfect cartoon here.
You read that right...we're staying in the SAME ROOM with my in-laws. You can read all about it here.

10 comments:

  1. Stand your ground. Its already going to be crowded. I know you love your Mom; but the logistics of all those people (beds, close quarters)

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    Replies
    1. Oh, the ground is being stood. No worries there.

      Delete
  2. I don't know J-man. Hypothetically, since my parents are gone, I wouldn't be overjoyed at the prospect of sharing a room with the my parents, in-laws, kids aand wive.

    I think the Queen has a right to be angry and by angry... I think she is truly, very hurt, that she was not choosen to partake in the the trip. Even more so perhaps, that THEY... the other grandparents, were chosen over her, to take part in this magical (for Peanut) trip. Don't kid yourself... there is competition amongst grandparents.

    I'm not going to lie bud... had it been me... the first trip would have only been me, the missus and the kids... any return trips thereafter, only then would grandparents be involved. Not critizing and I don't know all the factors... but just lettting you know how someone else may have handled.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There WERE other factors, including financial ones. What's done is done. No matter which decision we made, someone would have been upset.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. This conversation actually happened a few weeks ago. I tried to be tongue-in-cheek here. Although I still feel bad, all I can do is laugh about it.

      Delete
  4. I dunno.... I think your mother has a valid reason to be upset. Taking sides, which is exactly what ya did by inviting only one set of grannie parents, sets her aside, alone. *ugh*

    I'm with another poster who said you should be going sans grannie parents.... Just you, Peanut and the wifey-poo.

    If expenses are an issue, then ya bring that up. Mommy Dearest would have to pay her own way, get her own room, etc...

    Let HER make the "oh I can't afford that" comment and you're outta the mix.

    My family isn't close, but I still can't think of asking one set of grannie p's and not the widowed grannie-mom. I think you created yer own drama.

    Enjoyed your writing nonetheless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I don't think I said I didn't create my own drama. I appreciate the comment and am not above critical ones. But when they're from "Anonymous," I take it with a grain of salt.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, sorry... I don't have an account. And I would think it shouldn't matter who the comment came from, unless it was your mother. *giggles*

      Again, sorry.... I couldn't help myself with that last one.

      Delete
    3. Well well well.. anonymous AND funny. Thanks for stopping by DKL.

      Delete

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