How do you respond to family members venting/unloading on you? This past week, my mother and I kept playing phone tag, which culminated in her blowing up at me. I am sick of repeating this behavior pattern. Pertinent details:
posted by nakedmolerats to Human Relations (35 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
*I missed a call from her on January 21
*I missed a call from her again on January 23
*I called both her cell and landline back, later on January 23. No answer on either.
*She called me back AGAIN on January 23, and missed me
On January 24 I texted her: “haha we keep missing each other.” She texts back: “I wanted to know if you got those boxes (she shipped me some stuff). I texted back to say yes I did. That was the whole exchange.
*She called me on Jan 27 and missed me
*I truly did intend to call her last night, but she called first…
*All the times she called and missed me, she never left a text or a voicemail. This is pretty usual for us and I assume she’s just calling to chat unless she leaves a message.
*Perhaps pertinent: I set up auto-reminders on my calendar this year to call her every 2 weeks, because otherwise we would and have BOTH gone for a month without calling (not even missed calls, just not called), and yet, she never expressed any blame in this and when we would eventually get in touch, would always complain that I “never called” or she never heard from me. I would say 90% of the time since my 2-week setup, she has not called me at all in between my 2-week calls. Yes, I am annoyed by this and yes, I accept that it may be coloring my view here.
When I finally reached her last night, she lit into me with a rant about how I never answer my phone or return calls, and how is she supposed to get ahold of me, it always goes straight to voicemail, she doesn’t know if my phone even works, once upon a time I was having trouble with it, I should only call her landline because her cell is unreliable, turned off, etc.
I pointed out that:
-she often calls me FROM her cell phone, so I’m just pushing the callback button;
-several of the times she called was during my workday, so I couldn’t talk anyway, and a few of them were after I’d gone to bed;
- I am human and turn my ringer off and forget it or don’t hear my phone in the next room, but I had indeed attempted to return her call as well as texted her this week;
All of this was ostensibly because she was trying to tell me I had to return a gift by the end of the month if I didn’t want it… which she could have easily told me in a text or voicemail, or indeed, she’d actually left me a note on the gift itself, that I already had.
So anyway, she ranted at me for several minutes and then said “well, I’m too frustrated and crabby to talk right now, so bye”. After she called me. Okay.
I am sure that a lot of this boils down to different phone etiquette and just plain miscommunication, but nonetheless: my mom has this pattern of blowing up over a little thing and suddenly EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER DONE IS TERRIBLE AND WRONG AND ALSO YOUR PHONE DIDN’T WORK ONE TIME THREE YEARS AGO (she is the the mom who blames you for “downloading something” when her computer breaks after you’re home… despite the three zillion toolbars that were there already). These types of blow-ups are much rarer now that I’m an adult, but they make me feel like I’m still a teenager butting heads with her, and she wants me to fall into line and either apologize for however I’ve wronged her, or promise that I’ll “be better” about answering the phone, etc. (which I think I did in totally normal parameters, here).
Frankly, of course, I’m not keen on doing my dutiful “two week phone call” right now. I’m pretty sure the outcome of this conversation will either be: one of us calls the other and we just pretend this never happened; or I wait for her to call, which could be up to a month, and I guarantee you one of the first things out of her mouth will be that she “hasn’t heard from me in forever”. Well, no shit…
So either a) what do I do to handle this specific behavior? I’m open to sending her some sort of text or email, but she’s very much a “this is the way I am” person so I doubt she will make any real promises to stop doing this;
Or b) how do you handle people in your life in general who are like this, where as soon as they get mad about one stupid thing, suddenly everything ever is on trial? Growing up, I always just sort of rolled my eyes, accepted that she just wanted to go off about whatever, and then eventually she ran out of steam and everything got swept under the rug. But I really hate repeating that pattern and I especially don't want to deal with it over the phone.