Mom, Mom, can you talk a little softer? Mom, Mom . . . I am trying to watch my TV show. Mom, Mom, are all your friends hard of hearing? Can’t you talk more softly? Mom, MOM, MOM, I am trying to watch my TV SHOW. CAN YOU GO SOMEWHERE ELSE TO TALK ON YOUR PHONE? Umm, please? I love you!
To say the least, she didn’t move but just seemed to get louder. I was like:
Why does she seem to always get on the phone when I am watching TV? Also, why does she seem to need to yell when she talks? And while we are on this same thought, why does she start watching TV when I am on the phone? Why does she start cooking and banging pots when I am on the phone or watching TV? Why doesn’t she consider how noisy she is and that I am not used to this noise? Why does she not consider what I have given up for her to live with me? Why? Why? OK, just breathe, Kris, and God will get you through it . . . again.
So Lord, is this what it is going to be like forever? Will my relationship with my mom be a constant battle of who can be noisier? Who is right and who is wrong? Of who ate the last ice cream sandwich and forgot to buy more? Who is cooking and didn’t call home to say they would be late? Who likes the thermostat at 69 and who likes it at 73? What is this, Lord? It’s like I am married to my mother. Ugh.
Four years ago my dad passed away from Alzheimer’s and cancer. Not only did my mom spend the last 10 years taking care of him, but she had also helped take care of her own mom, who lived with us when I was young (until she passed). So between two marriages, her own mother’s illness, kids and grandkids, my mom is used to taking care of people. She is used to noise and activity, chaos and craziness. Since my dad’s death, my mom has struggled with not feeling needed, not to mention the extreme loneliness widowhood brings. Sure, she has her church and some friends, but it isn’t the same.
So after a year had passed, she decided to sell her home and move two hours west to live with me in my teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy home. Did I say my home is small? She moved in knowing that we would have to come up with Option B. My house is simply too small to accommodate both of us and an office/ministry. We started to pray and ask God for our next step.
Should we build on, and if so, how big? Should she buy her own home close by? Should we buy something together?
Would we be able to survive living together? I mean, I was so used to being alone and she was so used to having people around her. I was so used to privacy, and well, she didn’t care if someone walked in on her.
I was used to eating quick sandwiches while working on the computer. She preferred sit-down dinners at the table, complete with a napkin and salad fork.
As the weeks rolled on, we would start to discover just how many differences there were between us. There would also be many, many days of tension. We were both having to give up things. We were both having to compromise. Could we learn to be happily married or be on our way toward a divorce? Is there something more to this new situation than what appears on the surface?
I mean, yes, my mom doesn’t want to live alone, and well, I am single so it seems to be a perfect match. But what if God has something else in store?
What if my new living situation is to help me grow individually and toward Christ?
But just like being married, it isn’t a one-way relationship. I am finding out that this new living arrangement is so much more than having a roommate.
God is calling me to the next step.
The Next Step
So my mom and I decided to buy a new home together. A new start, a new beginning for us both. We moved about 20 miles from where I had been living. We moved closer to my mom’s sister and the town we all grew up in. We found a beautiful home in a quaint neighborhood. It’s more house than I thought I would ever get to live in. As each day passes, we have to learn so much about each other and how to “get along.”
So what is God showing me, what is he teaching me?
I am the most selfish person on the planet, and well, I kind of like it.
This is bad, really bad. In the past I have had many, many roommates. I learned a long time ago that I struggle with selfishness when it comes to my home and my belongings. Praise the Lord, for He taught me that if you own something that you are worried will get broken by a roommate or guest, then sell it or surrender it—and whatever may happen to it—to God. The other person is way more important than the object.
Okay, so I thought I had a handle on this selfishness until my mother and I became roommates. I found myself falling into this little girl mode of “my time” and “my room” and “my stuff,” and I did this or that.
Gosh, who is this person? I thought to myself. Was I still really this selfish about my things? Did I really think it was more important to have what I wanted in the house?
I found that selfishness was leading to quarreling. And the quarreling leading to hurt feelings.
I am thankful to see how much more I needed to grow in this area. How much the things I am so selfish about are really not that important. Not more important than my mom. Not more important than the Lord.
An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels (Proverbs 18:1).
You know, I have been a Christian a long time and have read Proverbs and the book of James many times. So much Scripture about wisdom, about our mouths and how they can hurt or heal. One of my favorite sayings is: “Think about what you are going to say. Will it build a bridge or take one down?”
Recently my mom reminded me that I had been blowing up the bridge between us. That I was not thinking about what I was saying and as a result, my thoughts, my feelings and my requests were not getting the responses I wanted. Instead, they were causing more problems. She reminded me that each time we say things that hurt another person, it becomes another brick that, over time, becomes a wall. A wall that cannot be taken down. As a result, I have been thinking more before I speak and in some cases, not speaking at all. I have seen a huge change in my mother’s behavior toward me. Some battles are simply not meant to be won.
To answer before listening—that is folly and shame (Proverbs 18:13).
Living with my mom has brought high accountability of what I do with my time, how I spend my money and how I eat. When you live alone (even though God sees all), you simply feel you can do what you want, when you want and how you want. Living with my mom has taken me to a new level of responsibility. We are both wanting to put our funds into our home, so at Christmas we didn’t buy each other anything. Also, we split food costs as well as food preparation. What a joy it’s been to have someone to cook for and with!
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
Well, so far I think mom and I might make it. Wih each day that passes, I am trying harder and harder to learn to simply love her the way Christ loves me. To listen more and care. To offer more help and understanding.
One day I will be older, and I just pray I have someone who will want to help take care of me. As the saying goes, “What comes around, goes around.” Well, from the Word we know that what a man sows, he reaps. I pray, Lord, that this new life will not only draw me closer to you but bear fruit to help many more come to know you. Thank you, Jesus, for the ways you bring new eyes and new situations to bring more life to your Word and your direction. Amen.