January 4, 2010

By the skin of my teeth (what DOES that mean?!!)

I've had a couple friends comment that based on the blog, it seems like the visit with Mom K is going well. Which is both true, and not true at all. I just haven't had much energy to rant properly.

She's courteous, kind, generous, she stays in her room until we're moving around in the mornings, cooks, does dishes, straightens up after herself. As a house guest, she's fine. It's just that it's been two weeks. Which is WAY too long to share space and to share my husband.

A couple days ago, I complimented Jrex on what a great son he's being, but told him that I need some time where he's also my husband. In the evenings, after eating dinner together, Mom K's been going into the living room and watching Korean TV. Some of the soap operas are entertaining and many of them have subtitles, but it's not that relaxing for me. In Korean culture, whatever the oldest person in the room wants to do, that's what the group does. Instead, I'm playing my European card and choosing to go back to our bedroom and read instead. Jrex has been good about coming back to make sure I'm ok, but I hate that he even has to make that choice. Yesterday, he told Mom that he and I needed some time alone that evening. He made it OK by telling her I'm tired and upset about the miscarriage (which is true). We decided to go out for coffee/dessert after dinner. When I was ready to leave she launched into a diatribe, in Korean, to Jrex about his cousin's mother. He asked me to give them 5 more minutes. I did.

When we finally left, he was really frustrated with what she'd done. He felt manipulated and controlled by how she'd handled that. In the end, we had a good time just talking. Nothing hugely profound, just reconnecting after two weeks in hosting mode. It's a reminder that I married him for a reason--I LIKE him. I enjoy our conversations. I really miss them.

There's no return ticket yet. We keep asking her what she's thinking. All we know is that she has an event in NYC in early February. The last I heard, she might head back to LA on January 15th and then fly on to NYC from there.

There's so much more I could write about:
  • My delayed emotions finally hitting me. Nothing specific (no 'angel baby in heaven' or baby dreams or names or anything), just general tiredness and sadness.
  • Day trip on Saturday with Mom K and Jrex's cousin's wife, her friend and her daughter. How they'd ask me questions in English to include me, and Mom K would answer FOR me--in Korean. "So, you don't understand Korean at all?" Me, "Not a bit of it." Mom K then uses lots of words I don't understand, but from voice tone and gestures I can tell she's telling about me taking Korean class and putting Korean name cards all over everything in the house. Thanks. I could have told that one myself.
  • Being asked where I'm going, what I did, what I ate, am I going to wear a jacket
  • How frustrated I am with myself that I have all my walls up and that I'm beginning to be feel rude about it. Trying to give myself grace in the midst of it all, but feeling pouty and selfish and guilty all mixed up together.
  • How kind and understanding Jrex is being. Telling me to spend time alone, it's fine. Don't feel bad. Yet Mom K is increasingly silent when she and I are alone together. I'm not asking her questions because I. Just. Can't. Listen. Anymore. She's not stupid. And so I feel bad. Her whole life has changed and I don't have the energy to meet her where she's at and love her and serve her. Sigh.
Thus begins the New Year. Let the whining begin!


Snickollet said...

You are all doing your imperfect best. Your whole life has changed, too, in a way that is perhaps more subtle, but also profound. It sure seems to me that you are all doing very well at supporting each other and treating each other with kindness. I have to imagine, though, that having a firm end date on the calendar would make things easier for you mentally. It would certainly help me were I in your shoes.

I watched John struggle with the wife/parents balance during his illness. It's so hard. I'm glad you and Jrex can talk about it, and that you got some time to reconnect.

Aimee said...

I think Snick said it best.

Plus, it's just hard to host someone--anyone--for that long, especially without knowing when you can resume your normal routine and everyday life.

Wishing you time to yourself and healing. Be gentle with yourself.

Anonymous said...

Hi there
Happy new year.
I read your entries from before christmas and thereafter. I was initially afraid to send a message as we have not been in touch for a while. However, I just wanted to say that I am sorry that you have had to experience all that you have. I hope that 2010 brings with it many blessings, laughter and pleasant surprises.
Love from Marie

Mama Nabi said...

Oh, by now, my mom and I would have had some words, my mom would do her best to send me on a gigantic guilt trip - she'd cry/wail as she laments all the sacrifices she'd made only to be rewarded by such a horrible daughter.... So, yes, kudos to both of you.

The cultural assumption that one is to do whatever the elders decide to do is a suffocating one, indeed. However, you do need to take care of yourself. JRex is really fabulous being the balance between the two of you... sigh. I know that it's hard for someone like you to feel as if you are not being there for Mom K or to serve her...

Hang in there... I wonder if a night out with some friends (maybe phrase it so that Mom K would feel comfort in some alone time for herself?) or maybe having a buffer person to visit to deflect the tension that is bound to build up during a long visit... might help?

Rachel said...

Wow, that sounds very stressful. I hate how in Korean culture "son" trumps "husband" every time. I'm afraid it sounds like your MIL wants to move in with you guys. I hope that JRex is able to establish some boundaries with her, because it's really his job, not yours. Big hugs. I have been there.