I work with my mom. It’s kind of nice, but it’s also kind of awful.
It’s not awful for the reasons that other people I’ve known hate working with family, which is usually that they wanna do work one way and the parent wants it done another, and ‘omg my dad/mom isn’t respecting my abilities as an adult’ blah blah blah. No, my work experience came with totally different trials and tribulations. I was always held to a higher standard than other employees, because my mom never wanted anyone to say that I had it easy. So, she made it ten times harder; I think she was hoping I’d quit. I was never allowed to file a complaint about another employee, because that could be see as an act of nepotism. So, I just had to grin and bear it, even when people made my life a living hell. More than once I looked for other jobs because I wasn’t allowed to file complaints and I wasn’t sure I could stand to come to work another day. Fortunately, those people eventually left. She never even wanted me to work there, and for the first few years she treated me like I didn’t belong at all. Instead of backing off, though, I felt like I had to prove her wrong… and now I’m her second in command.
The biggest problem with working with my mother is that my entire life I’ve been going to work with her. She couldn’t get a sitter for most of my childhood, so when I was sick, or there was a day off from school, I ended up at work with my mom. She always put me to work, too. When I was a kid, she’d give me simple work to do, like putting stuff in order alphabetically or numerically, since I was at work with her anyways. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized how much time she really spent at work, because when I was old enough to come home and lock the door behind me (at all of age 10) I spent a lot of time alone. That only lasted for about six years, at which point I could drive and started going to work after school… and… well I just never stopped coming to work.
During that six years where I spend a lot of time alone I watched a lot of PBS, learned to cook, and spent my evenings pretending not to notice my mother was wiped out and depressed. There was a stretch where she changed jobs every single year for like five years, and I wasn’t sure she was gonna make it through that, because she’d just come home and cry. There was when she worked at a multi-franchise store, all the terrible bosses that berated her, and the time she got let go because a company bought her store and brought in their own people. What I learned from watching my mother was that A, work was awful, 2, no matter how you feel you go to work because money is more important than happiness or health, and D, there’s nothing that a person can’t get through, even if they don’t come out better on the other side.
Part of why I wanted to prove that I could do everything she threw at me was because I felt like she needed help at work. The downside to that is that now I go to work with her everyday, do a lot of things to help, and she still goes home exhausted and depressed. God forbid anything unexpected or accidental happens: my mother’s anxiety has grown so much over the years I don’t honestly know how she functions. She’s just always in a panic… so I try to field the stress for her, at the expense of my own happiness… which she fights me on, tooth and nail, all the time.
This week, my mother is on vacation. It’s a staycation and she’s trying to do a bunch of work on her house. This morning I got a panicked phone call from her where she was looking at something from home and realized she missed something and now she’s in a panic and how could she be so stupid and how will she fix it and… She’s not having a good vacation anyways, because she’s perpetually mad at her body for being fat and getting old and not doing what she wants it to do. Now she’s already stressing over next week when she’s back.
I want to move to Oregon. Yes, I have a good friend there that I’d like to be closer to, and yes, I’d like to live somewhere mostly devoid of snow, but mostly I want to move somewhere that I can get a job and take care of my mother. She doesn’t want that. She stresses about if she can keep going to work, and how much money she can pull from social security, versus how much she’d get if she waited longer. She’s tried to get me to move back home to the south because it’s cheap and there’s “family” down there, so when she dies I’m not alone. She worries about everything and won’t let me just take care of her. I guess she fancies she’s not old enough for me to need to do that yet, but emotionally she’s like 197. Someone should take care of her.
I don’t know what to do about my mom. I don’t know what to do about me.
Hell of a pair we make… an older woman with major depression and a bipolar kid stuck in a bad mood for about two years now. Something has to change… even if I have to drag her, kicking and screaming to a place where things could be better.