Sunday, May 27, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Mom won't admit that grown child has cleaned up her act

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Mom won't admit that grown child has cleaned up her act

Q: When I was a teenager and in college, I was a slob. No two ways around it. I am now 28 and own a condo. Over the past few years, I have started keeping my place significantly neater and have a cleaning service to do the heavy lifting. Nobody who has come to my home in years has commented on the condition negatively.

Except one person: my mother. She makes comments about small things (the glasses in my cabinet were not arranged according to size) when she visits and alludes to the fact that I am slovenly. At family gatherings, like a recent wedding shower when the bride received a vacuum cleaner, my mother exclaimed, "Good thing you didn't get that, you wouldn't even know how to use it!"

Yes, I was a messy teen and college student. But I am now a gainfully employed professional with a clean condo. Any tips for pointing this out to my mother? I don't want to sound petulant, but this really bothers me.

No Longer a Slob

Carolyn: This is actually pretty typical — not the cleaning arc, though that's common, too, but the Mom-won't-let-her-image-of-me-grow-up problem.

I suggest a two-pronged attack:

(1) Have the Conversation. "I can think of many occasions lately when you've made an issue or joke of my cleaning habits: (example or two here). I get it, ha ha, I used to be a huge slob. But I'm an adult, well past a lot of stuff I did as a kid, so I'm mystified that I still have this label. Is there something you're trying to say, something that's bothering you?" Hear her out and do your best to respond charitably, versus defensively. Defensiveness is a brick wall.

(2) No matter how she responds — be it defensiveness of her own, or lip service, or genuine change — be prepared to let the subject drop. People hold on to things for all kinds of reasons, many they can't articulate.

A common one is that people form impressions, organize them in a way they understand — and hang on to that filing system because it's more secure-feeling than recognizing that over time, they have to reacquaint themselves with the people they supposedly know best in the world.

In this case, too, your mother might be harboring significant anger that you were a slob on her turf but magically reformed on yours — and be lacking the self-awareness to form this into words. So, she jabs and snarks and swipes.

Whatever the case, make your point, listen to hers, and assure yourself you've done what you could. After that, treat any remaining obnoxious behavior from Mom as a bit of grit in the clam.

Not-Slob, again: Thanks for pointing out that I was a slob on her turf, but not my own. I am sure, even if subconsciously, that is part of the issue. And she absolutely deserves an "I'm sorry I was messy in the late '90s."

Carolyn: Sure thing. (The "in the late '90s" isn't snark, right?)

She might not respond in the fence-mendingest of ways, especially if you startle her again by behaving against stereotype, but it will still have been the right thing to do.

Comments
With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

TAMPA — Behind the construction walls near the carousel at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, hammers, saws and power drills made a racket in the blazing Friday heat. A raft full of 100-pound water jugs took test trips on the new Roaring Springs ride set ...
Published: 05/25/18

Tell Me About It: Half sister worries about wedding drama

Half sister worries about wedding drama"target="_blank">Half sister worries about wedding dramaQ: I really want to go to my half-sisterís wedding, but I donít want to start trouble with her dad, who hates me. He might cause a scene if I go.My mom ch...
Published: 05/25/18
An all-ages playlist of the summer songs of 2018? It can be done

An all-ages playlist of the summer songs of 2018? It can be done

Recently I was asked to create a playlist for a summer beach party. An opportunity to procrastinate and mess around on Spotify for a few hours? Yeah, totally, when can I start?I like playlists that are diverse, not just in terms of genre (pop, hip-ho...
Published: 05/24/18
9 things to do indoors on this rainy Memorial Day weekend

9 things to do indoors on this rainy Memorial Day weekend

We've got you covered. Get it?
Published: 05/24/18

Tell Me About It: Busy mom wants to check her priorities

Q: As a mother of three young kids holding a full-time job and with a husband who frequently works late evenings and some weekends, I feel my priorities change according to what is in front of me at the time, then Iím reconsidering my choices later.H...
Published: 05/24/18
Top things to do for the week of May 28-June 3.

Top things to do for the week of May 28-June 3.

Shania Twain: Canadian country pop princess makes a comeback at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on Saturday ($36.20-$156.20).Memorial Day: Thereís plenty of ways to celebrate today, including the Treasure Island Memorial Day Parade that steps off at 9 a.m....
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/26/18
Top things to do for Memorial Day weekend in Tampa Bay: Concerts, festivals and memorials

Top things to do for Memorial Day weekend in Tampa Bay: Concerts, festivals and memorials

Our editors' picks for things to do this weekend.
Published: 05/25/18
Top things to do this weekend: Margarita Festival, Rays’ Kiermaier as Star Wars figure, Nintinder

Top things to do this weekend: Margarita Festival, Rays’ Kiermaier as Star Wars figure, Nintinder

LIME TIME: Tampa Bay Margarita Festival This year, there are twice the bartenders and a new RFID wristband system for less waiting at the two-day Tampa Bay Margarita Festival with a margarita flavor for every taste. Music headliners are the Wallflow...
Published: 05/23/18
John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

It’s been 50 years since John Fogerty wrote Fortunate Son, one of the most scathing protest songs from the Vietnam War era. Writing another one with that kind of impact has been a challenge ever since. "Back in the ’80s, I had a couple o...
Published: 05/23/18
What's in theaters this week: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story,' Art and Short Film Mini-Fest

What's in theaters this week: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story,' Art and Short Film Mini-Fest

OPENING FRIDAY: SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY Alden Ehrenreich stars as a young Han Solo navigating the underworld and meeting his forever wingman Chewbacca and his scoundrel buddy Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). With Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Woo...
Published: 05/23/18