Thursday, May 31, 2007


My mother had an extremely irritating visitor this morning. In the first twenty minutes this friend was there, I answered the door, found a vase for flowers, took two phone messages, brought up cups of tea, brought in the washing, hung out a second load of washing*, tidied the kitchen. Then I came back upstairs and sat down at the computer to work on my thesis.

Five minutes later, I overheard this from their conversation:

Mum: "This house is such a mess.** And I feel bad asking StyleyGeek to tidy it for me. She is doing her best."

Friend: "You shouldn't feel bad about getting her to do it. It's not like she's busy. She's just sitting there at the computer the whole time. You mustn't be afraid of asking for what you need. You are the one with cancer."

Mum: "Well... No, you're right. Really you are. I need to learn to voice my needs better."

Friend: "Quite right. You've given and given and given to your children while they are growing up. At some point they need to turn around and start giving something back."

Ten minutes after that, I was out watering the back garden when the friend came and tackled me. "I'm leaving now," she said. "I'll show myself out, shall I?"

"Oh, sorry, do you know the way? Let me walk you round to the front." I realised Mum must have sent her home because it was only half an hour before we needed to leave for her appointment at the hospital.

"Now, StyleyGeek, your mother is resting now. Don't go disturbing her, will you? Much as I'm sure you like to chat with her, she needs her sleep. And she says she has to go out soon and do some errand. Perhaps that might be something you could do for her, just to help her out?"


* I have always wondered why my mother, living on her own, ends up doing washing every single day, while Geekman and I between the two of it, only do a load once a week or so. Helping out here has solved that mystery. First of all, she never wears anything a second time without washing it. She washes the towels and tea towels every day as well. Even pajamas don't get worn two nights running. She separates delicates, lights, darks, wools, etc, so often has several loads per day. Secondly, every morning she decides before she gets up what she is going to wear that day, and doesn't cope at all well if that item isn't available to be worn. Today, for example, she only had one shirt and a pair of socks in the washing basket (I didn't wash her whites yesterday, since there was only that), but she had decided she wanted to wear the shirt. When she found out it was still in the dirty washing basket, she realised she couldn't wear it today, but it had to be washed immediately so that her plans couldn't be thwarted in this way again.

I think this also explains why she owns so many clothes. (Like, four pairs of pajamas, eight nightgowns and three dressing gowns, just to mention her sleepwear.)

** The house is not a mess at all by anyone's definition. I vacuumed and cleaned the bathroom yesterday. I have tidied every day. The dishes are always done immediately after every meal. The only clutter is the flowers and cards on every surface, and admittedly there were two coffee cups I hadn't cleared away.


shrinkykitten said...

Jeebus and a half - I would bloody like to throttle that woman! What nerve! I hate the implication that because these people raised us, we owe them. No, we should do things for people because we care about them, they treat us with care, and we *want* to give back to them.

No jury on earth would convict. I'm sensing that this may well be a good mantra - or a tshirt (hee hee!).

BTW, your comments to goalstalkers are showing in your little "comments i've made thing"!

The History Enthusiast said...

What nerve you have, sitting down to work on your thesis when you have a free moment! I'm so appalled (insert eye roll). I hope that things begin to look up from here...good luck with everything!

New Kid on the Hallway said...

You are a saint. You know that, right? You want I should make some of those little medals that saints have? ;-)

clkl said...

Um... What I don't get after reading this is, if this is all happening to YOU, why am *I* gritting my teeth?

Bella Sultane said...

Irritating is an understatement! I can't believe the nerve. WOW.

StyleyGeek said...

Shrinky, thanks: I just noticed that too. I'll try and work out how to stop it from showing up there. (And eek!)

And everyone else: thanks for the support in my outrage!

WhatLadder said...

I was going to call you a saint, too, but new kid beat me to it.

Ianqui said...

Yeah, sainthood, seriously. And as usual, you're documenting it with charm and grace. When do you get to leave?

StyleyGeek said...

Saint StyleyGeek gets to leave in just under a week! (Next Wednesday). The days are passing incredibly quickly, actually, which is no doubt thanks to the many many things I wanted to get done on my dissertation before I get back.

EA said...

Phfffffffft! Good grief.

Anonymous said...


Queen of West Procrastination said...

You really are a saint, because I would have barged in there and defended myself right then. I'm bad that way.

wwwmama said...

this post sounds like a soap opera scene...unbelievable. hope you can get back to your real work and normal washing loads soon.

Badaunt said...

How come the most awful conversations make the most entertaining blog posts? It seems unfair, although I have to say it IS perfectly fair for you to be getting a quiet little revenge by creating genius posts like this one out of the horrible insults flying your way.

Three cheers to you!

physics*chick said...

Good greif! Saintly indeed! I'd have lost it already. In fact I already want to fly to New Zealand to start smacking people around, and I've never even met you!! ... if only we had transporters... Good luck surviving the next week! At least you can return to a "normal" state of sanity (if one can call dissertation writing that) soon.

grace said...

Hey Styley
How absolutely maddening.

I have been thinking about ways of dealing with this sort of nonsense - would it be possible to make this lady realise how awful she is being. The difficulty is making a response without either shouting at her or bursting into tears (both would be quite understandable!).

I wonder if such a situation were to arise again you could try saying something like,

"It makes me really angry when people interfere in my family", or, "I feel hurt when people judge me who don't know me"

I wonder if that might stop her in her busybodying tracks?

She obviously has a poor relationship with her own family, or she wouldn't be taking it out on you, so inappropriately.

liz said...

Banging my head on my desk for you.