If you’ve read my previous article – Childhood Negligence: An Awkward Phone Call With My Mum About My – you’ll be aware that I’ve been planning a trip for my mum to come to visit me. I don’t see my mum that often because I find it difficult to be around her. We are two very different people, and as such, get into a lot of heated debates. This resulted in me making a joke to my partner: “Let the battle begin” before we were about to meet my mum (my partner is fully aware of how difficult it is to be around my mum).
If you’ve read my other article – Suicidal Child – you’ll also have a bit of an understanding as to why my relationship with my mum isn’t the greatest. But our issues go beyond that, but I’ll come back to that later in the article.
I found out the night before my mum’s visit that her mobile phone was no longer working, which was seriously bad timing. This then became a problem when we went to meet her at the train station. I got there 10 minutes early, and my partner got there a few minutes after me, but my mum was nowhere to be seen, some 30 minutes after her train had arrived. Because her phone wasn’t working anymore, I couldn’t call her to find out what was going on, so we had to get the staff to do an announcement for us. Not a great way to start the visit off.
When She finally appears, even though no harm was done, it was a reminder that we had to be very careful about keeping an eye on her. If we lose her, she’ll have no idea how to get around on her own and theirs no phone to call her own, nor are payphones that common anymore for her to use one to try and call me.
Because of this, we were a little behind schedule. So we go to the hotel to check-in and drop my mum’s stuff off, where she proceeds to do a LOT of faffing about, which then puts us further behind schedule. We had tickets for a tour of Parliament, so we needed to get there on time in order to make sure we’d get the full speaking tour.
As we got off the tube, my partner was starting to stress out about being late for the tour, and I’m trying to keep everyone relaxed about the situation because there’s nothing we can do about it. Me being the calm one in this situation, with my anxiety disorders, is kind of amusing if you ask me.
The people working at the Parliament building were really nice and escorted us to where the tour group were, pointing out some of the stuff we would have missed along the way, which wasn’t much. They’d only started the tour about 10 minutes before we got there, even though we were close to 20 minutes late in the end, so it was all good.
After the tour, I’d booked us on the afternoon tea experience at Parliament on the balcony overlooking the Thames. The afternoon tea was great, the food was fantastic, and they gave us a few extra cakes and scones because it was my mum’s birthday. Can’t argue with extra food. The scones were amazing; they were still warm when they brought them to the table, both times, so if you decided to go there yourselves and partake in the tea experience, eat the scones while they’re still warm, you won’t regret it.
Initially, the selection of cakes and sandwiches didn’t look like it was a lot, but we were so very full and bloated after eating there. So much so, in fact, we had to call the restaurant to push back our evening dinner reservation. But even though we’d pushed back the reservation, I was still full by the time we got there and struggled to eat.
Between our visit to Parliament and going to the restaurant, we went to the Tate Modern. Which actually was pretty good. I don’t really click with museums and other such exhibits, and normally only go to such places because my partner wants to go. On the rare occasions where it’s my idea to go, I’m always disappointed by the exhibits. I always learn more about what I’m interested in and see better representations online normally.
Anyway, the free exhibits at the Tate Modern were pretty good. I even saw one art piece I would have really loved to have been able to display in my own home. It also sparked some creative ideas in me. I just hope I follow through on them.
Whilst at the restaurant, my mum brought up the fact that she wants me to reach out to my dad. I haven’t seen my dad since I was 14 when my mum told him to never come back. Which he never did. I have no interest in reaching out or seeing my dad again. My dad was never a part of my life: I’ve only seen him a handful of times in all my years of existence. Of those few occasions where I did see him, my parents used that time to start a doomed relationship even though my mum knew my dad was already with someone. Hence telling him to never come back when it fell apart.
My mum doesn’t really understand my attachment issues. She doesn’t get that I’ve never had a yearning to mend my relationship with my dad because there is no attachment or relationship to mend in the first place. My dad sees my half-sister (her family is close with my family) and if he’d had ever wanted to contact or see me, he could have done so at any point through her. He chose not to.
Let me provided a little more background about my dad. My parents weren’t together when I was born, I was raised in a single-parent household and my dad never paid a penny to support us. I also have double-digit half brothers and sisters, although I only know one of them.
When I did reach only to connect with my dad in my early teens, he’d stop coming to see me before my birthday and would reengage long after Xmas: to avoid having to buy me presents. When he did visit he’d pay for me to go to the cinema or something with my friends, so he could be alone with my mum rather than spending time with me.
My grandad was my father figure, and I didn’t need anyone else when I was growing up, and I don’t need a replacement for my grandad, even though my grandad passed a couple of years ago. I respected my grandad so much that I’d often call him dad rather than grandad, and every Father’s Day I’d always made it clear that I appreciated him as the real father he basically was to me.
I suspect the reason my mum wants me to contact my dad again is that she feels guilty about what happened with my dad. She knew my dad was a womaniser, but still did what she did anyway, and then told him never to come back when it all blew up in her face.
She’s adamant that I’ll regret it if my dad dies, having never tried to get back in touch with him. The problem with that is that I’ve never been upset by any death of anyone in my life. Death has a very different value to me due to my history with suicidal ideation and attempts dating back to my childhood.
I didn’t go through grief when my great uncle was murdered, even though we were fairly close (although I was angry I couldn’t go to the court case due to still being a primary school kid). I didn’t grieve when my nana died of cancer, which caused me to be concerned about my lack of emotional response to it. I loved my grandparents more than my mum.
But I did cry when I saw her in hospital, because she was suffering, and suffering does reach me emotionally. When my grandad died, I wasn’t upset either, because it was most likely for the best. His dementia was really bad at that stage. I’ve lost a lot of friends along the way too, but none of their passings has affected me either.
Thus, I can’t imagine I’d even bat an eyelid if my dad died. He means nothing to me. He’s basically just a sperm donor.
My mum also brought up the fact that she wants me to visit the country where my dad’s from. She thinks it’s important for me to connect with my roots. But again, I’ve never had those kinds of connections to places or people, so I’m not really bothered about visiting the country my dad came from in order to “connect to my roots” either.
I get where she’s coming from, and if I wasn’t the way I am, I’m sure that would be a nice gesture. However, it’s a bit late in the game to worry about my roots. I am what I am, and these things don’t mean anything to me. I struggle to find any connection to anything in the world or my life. It’s just the way it is for me. I’m pretty much dead to the world.
Getting back to the restaurant, the food was nice, but as I said, I was still far too full from the afternoon tea experience, so I couldn’t eat all of it.
My partner and I paid for my mum to come down here and paid for all the stuff we were going to do, splitting the costs 50/50. Due to currently being on benefits because of my many health problems, that was no easy feat for me. Hopefully, the team of specialists working on my case will find a way to manage all my symptoms so that I can return to work sooner rather than later, so I won’t always be struggling like this.
So when my mum stated she wanted to go to church on Sunday, rather than taking one day off from going to church, I was ticked off. We haven’t seen each other in over a year, and we’d paid all this money out on bringing her here, and all she wanted to do was waste a morning going to church. We could have used that morning to do another activity together.
Anyway, I obviously found her a church to attend near the hotel we’d booked her into, and I printed her out a map so she’d know how to get there. As I know from being constantly reminded by her, her religion is far more important than me. If you’ve read my previous article – Childhood Negligence: An Awkward Phone Call With My Mum About My – you’ll already be aware of this fact.
We met my mum after the church service and then went to meet my partner’s parents, in order to go to the sky garden (great views of London by the way), and then have dinner at one of the restaurants there. We all had a pretty good time. My partner’s parents are lovely, but much like my mum can push my buttons with minimal effort, my partner has a similar thing with her parents. I think everyone has that kind of relationship with their parents, or are you an exception to the rule?
We got my mum on the train and told her to call us when she got home, which she did. She hasn’t always done that. When we came down to see her to help sort some stuff out for her cancer treatment, we’d gone for a meal and stayed longer than planned. This meant we were running out of time to get the train we needed and had to go to the station instead of walking my mum home first: it’s a 10-minute walk to her house at the time. I told her to call us to let us know she got home ok.
Some 30 minutes later she’s still not called us and she’s not picking up the phone (she didn’t have her mobile with her, she rarely has it on or uses it). My partner is telling me we should go back to make sure she’s ok, and I’m having to work out if this is just my mum’s typical behaviour or if something had happened. When the train pulls up, for our last possible train to get back home half a country away, I make the decision it’s just my mum being my mum, and we should get the train. Which was a good call. She finally called and said she’d got chatting to someone on the way home, then went to the loo.
Luckily, over the weekend we didn’t have too many problems with mum’s views, but she did show that she’s pretty UKIP in her political beliefs, believing Nigel Farage’s soundbites without question and in the face of evidence to disprove everything he’s said. To make matters worse, she’s never interested in critically questioning the soundbite she hears, even though she used to be a councillor. Which really grinds my gears.
My mum is a textbook example of cognitive dissonance, resulting in the unquestioning dismissal of anything that causes her cognitive discomfort. Thus, she accepts these terribly offensive soundbites and then won’t believe anything that proves their falsehoods.
Although my partner warned her parents about what topics to avoid and how my mum can be, to try to avoid potential issues. Literally, within the first conversation, the first subject somehow included both her faith and politics. However, even though these taboo topics popped up, my partner’s parents still seemed to like my mum.
Overall, the weekend wasn’t as bad as it could have been, or as bad as I was kind of expecting it to be. Which was a nice surprise. It’s safe to say that when it comes to your own parents, you have far far less patience for their questionable views than if it was literally anybody else.
My mum kept telling us how she had a great time, and how it was a wonderful experience and visit. So mission accomplished, my mum had a good time, our parents got to meet for the first time, my mum got to spend some time with us, and she got to have a mini-break in the capital for the first time.
When I spoke to her a few days after her visit, she said it was the best time she’d ever had, the best birthday she ever had, and was extremely grateful to us for covering the costs of all of it. Which was nice.
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Unwanted Life readers.