Dear Ms. Anyhooo,
I have a Martha problem. Let me clarify, I have a Mother problem who answers to the name Martha. The backstory is, I am a recent college graduate and have just moved away from home to Orlando, Florida, for a fantastic job opportunity. While attending college, I bunked at home with my parents and younger sibling. My new apartment is the first time I have ever been on my own, and I have been eager and proud to show off my independent dwellings I decorated to reflect my adult self.
Mom decided to drop in and visit and check out my new digs and get some eyes on the lay of the new frontier, so to speak. Note to self – four days is too long of a Martha visit! Anyway, on day two, I return home after my workday to discover Miss Martha Stewart wannabe has redecorated my entire bedroom. Mind you, I had spent the first months in my new life creating my own space and choosing decor that made me feel – like me. I was in shock and I guess the look of bewilderment on my face tipped her off ,and she exclaimed “Surprise!, I just wanted to do something nice for you – do you love it, tell me you love it? .”
Once I got some hydration, and my head no longer was spinning I sat her down and shared with her I wished she had spoken to me first before invading my personal space. I was gentle and thanked her for the thought behind her impulsive acts but firm that I needed my room back the way it was. There was a dead pan look across mother’s face and silence .
My mother didn’t just move my bedroom decor, she replaced it all. She did not store any of the items – she tossed them! I simply lost it…
I mean I really had a moment and still am having moments. I loved my new things that I carefully had chosen to surround me in my new start in life and felt furious and heartbroken at her thoughtless actions. While there is some history of my mother being somewhat of a control freak my entire life , I never imagined she would ever go this far.
There was a huge fight and many nasty things were said from both ends. Frankly, I have never seen my mother so upset with me. She left in a huff and cut her trip short. That was two weeks ago, and we have not spoken since. Ms. Anyhooo was I wrong to be upset? How do I get over my anger, and how can my mother and I mend fences?
Signed: Fuming and fit to be tied ,Felicia, Orlando, Florida.
Land sakes alive! Mama has gone and kicked up a hornets’ nest no doubt this time. Precious, you’re having a righteous hissy fit over what down south we call, “meddling gone too darn far malfeasance.” Now there, Ms. Anyhooo wants to reassure you that your little come apart over your Martha’s steppin way over the line and planted her feet in a whole mess of dung – is what shrinks would call being more than a tad normal.
Goodness gracious, of course, I understand that your decorating of your new apartment was a declaration. It signified your independence and mama, if she wasn’t so wrapped up in avoiding her feelings over that earthquake change, would have also realized that boundaries matter. While you will always be her baby girl – You really can’t be her baby girl in quite the same way as before.
Sit on your biscuits a sec and hear me out. It is reasonable for you to assume Mom’s most recent escapade is all about her just being controlling, again. May I suggest to your bruised and achy heart that maybe this time we have some layers like a flaky biscuit you must peel back to fully taste? I suspect that your moving out of her home and far away has been quite the frontporch screendoor slapping in the wind moment in her life. While one’s instinct would be to hop up off their tuckus and secure the latch so the banging stops- Miss Martha is ambivalent about that door closing.
Honey child, what I am trying to say here is mom is having acute separation anxiety and difficulty adjusting to her shining adult daughter not needing her as much as before. Precious, this journey is one you grasp the steering wheel and while she can share in the ride she cannot map out the course. I suspect her horrible boundaries and choice to redecorate your bedroom was her way to avoid the sadness that comes with letting go and letting you fly.
Now I reckon this is the part where you truly come into your own. Sometimes we need to help those we love when they get stuck and we both know mom has helped you get over the ruts in life many a day. Darling you need to convert all that anger and disappointment into empathy and reach out to your mom with a dash of humility. I know I am asking a heavy load but adults lift huge ones.
You go on now, and in the best dripping honey voice you can – reach out to your mother. You call or write her and be the bigger gal. Offer up an opening line telling her how much you have missed talking to her the last weeks and hate that things are strange between you two. Then take a deep breath and let her fire off what fire she has been storing, back at you. Then just like the baby girl she raised and loves you remind her you are calling to mend broken fences and that you have given the issue much thought and have concluded that your mama misses you very much- so much that she felt compelled to decorate your bedroom just so you felt her love.
Then slowly and clearly ask, ” Mom is it hard for you to have me out of the house and living so far away?” Then sit back and listen. Truly listen.
Once our Martha Stewart wannabe gets it all out and you validate her anxiety and confused feelings about the transition, you can address your feelings. Think of it like kneading dough and letting it rise so it sets up just right.
No whistling Dixie, you let her hear how it felt to have your things snatched away without your knowledge or permission. Do not give her an excuse for doing so. Explain your expectations going forward of mutual respect for space and things and make certain she understands how important boundaries are to you. Let her know you are open to suggestions on décor, and will always need her guidance on life’s little and big things. However, make it crystal clear that you make the decisions in your life as an adult going forward.
Finally, invite her back to spend time with you but only a three-day weekend this time – (giggles.) It is awfully hard to replace mama, precious. But you can always fine – tune her!
House warning gift, and all the blessings you lil haint,
Ms. Anyhooo writes for the Right Wire Report, who provides common sense down-to-earth answers to your personal relationships on love, life, and everything in between. Spun from the heart of the Tennessee mountain country, follow her on the hashtag #DearAnyhoooAnswers (save this link to your favorites bookmarks). If you have any questions for Ms. Anyhooo to answer please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or Contact Us.
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