It’s hard to describe in words, that is the facial expression mom directed towards me across the kitchen last Sunday. Imagine the head tilted slightly to one side, eyes widened with a hint of bulging, the chin dropped which caused the mouth to gape. I am not kidding here, if you had met a stranger with this same facial expression it would have caused you to run. Any direction, it wouldn’t matter. That is the face mom made when she was trying to convince me that she would walk down Eastern Avenue for her mani/pedi. I’ll practice. The cars stop for pedestrians.
What about walking back up Eastern Avenue? I said. At this point, I was ignoring the other obstacles including crossing a very busy Main Street and walking down Eastern Avenue. Oh, and the other important point that I was willing and able to drive her to this appointment. Oh, she said. It’s too much for you to take me twice in one day.
It’s not too much, I will do errands and go to the college. The crazy face finally went away and somehow, I felt that a strategic move had been played. There is so much sub-text to these conversations that it’s hard to keep up. For example, when she says I am doing enough already, it most likely means I am not doing enough. Or, if she talks about crossing a busy street or walking up a dangerous hill it’s a test of my commitment to her safety and well-being. Or, if she mentions how much a friend’s adult children are doing for them it means I am not doing enough. Not nearly. Then there is the statement about my self-care activities such as yoga. She says I take good care of myself, but that means I am neglecting her for my own selfish pursuits.
I experimented with imitating the crazy face as a way of discerning how it might feel to the wearer. It made me laugh out loud because it felt truly crazy. Try it. But only in the privacy of your home with no witnesses.