Tell Me About It

Cut off contact with self-centered mom?

Washington Post Writers GroupOctober 30, 2012 

Dear Carolyn: There is a woman in my life with whom I do not wish to interact on a regular basis. She’s incredibly selfish and cares only for her own happiness. She can’t be trusted with confidences; she blabs everything to anyone who will listen, even when she’s asked to keep something to herself. When I bothered to call her, she either didn’t answer or was too busy to talk to me. I quit calling. Yet when she calls me, she expects me to drop whatever I’m doing to chat. If I ignore her calls, she continues to call until I answer.

I find these conversations tiresome and would rather avoid them. Does it change your answer to know that she’s my mother? If this were anyone else, I would have cut off contact years ago. – Anonymous

Carolyn Says: You’ve chosen not to cut her off despite solid reasons to do so. That tells me you regard her, or maybe just motherhood itself, as worthy of an exception. There’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe what you need isn’t to cut the tie once and for all, as you seem tempted yet reluctant to do, but to gain an understanding of your reasons for making this exception.

Is it because she brought good things to your life, amid the bad? Is it because you recognize she did provide for you – changed your diapers, fed you, drove you where you needed to go – even if her motives centered on her? Is it because you love her even while you dislike her? Is it because part of you is still waiting for her to put you first? Is it because you don’t want to be a person who no longer speaks to his/her own mom?

There’s a reason somewhere. Figure it out, then decide whether it satisfies you as a reason to keep doing this maddening dance.

Car pool woes

Dear Carolyn: How do you tell someone s/he is not fitting into a long-standing carpool group? We’re unhappy with “Pat,” each for different reasons, one of which is chronic lateness, which makes everyone late. This happens at least two or three times a week, and no explanation or apology is ever offered. Rude!

Pat is constantly texting or having personal phone conversations when riding, which annoys some, and constantly eats noisy, fragrant foods, which annoys others. The worst, though, is Pat’s feeling that s/he is expected to drive more often than is fair, even though we do a round-robin.

How to tell Pat nicely? – Car Pool Blues

Carolyn Says: No, the worst is that Pat makes you all late. Fussing about the ways Pat personally offends each of you wipes out “nicely.” Simply tell Pat s/he’s late too often to remain in the carpool. Never make an issue personal that doesn’t have to be.

Send email to Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com.

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