Thursday, May 28, 2009

And the Challenges Go On.. Part 3

When I moved in here about a month ago,
the orange trees were in full bloom.

Now look at these baby oranges... :)

OK. Time for more hard-core versions of insect-related episodes here. ;) I think this is a common problem in most rural areas in this country. When I googled to find an effective solution, I found good many Japanese blogs talking about their desperate efforts to keep this insect away from their rooms/houses. What I’m talking about is centipede. I don’t want to give a detailed description of that thing. It’s ugly. It has so many legs. And it bites. In this house, this creature ruins everybody's sleep about 3 or 4 times a summer. Or sometimes it hides in farm boots and waits for tasty feet.

This is how I'm protecting my boots (and feet).

Reading some Japanese blogs and forums, I had the impression that there is no one-and-only, perfectly-effective repellent that would protect your house from centipede throughout the year. Well, at least in this country. So, many Japanese are still trying this and that, in addition to currently available centipede repellent. A couple of people reported that mothballs containing para-dichlorobenzene worked, so I bought the particular brand that they used and put one pouch at every corner of my room and several in the closet.

It gave me a slight headache on the first day. And I’ve also read that para-dichlorobenzene is carcinogenic. But which risk is higher? Would it save me if I live in a mothball-scented room, having loads of foods and drinks that are said to have anticancer effect? I hope it does…

------

But here’s a bigger problem than the centipede, which is: mom who goes on hunger strike when there is something that she doesn’t like AND, at the same time, keeps buying food way more than necessary.

After moving into this house, dad told me that mom had been doing this to dad for years. Dad needs special diet due to his health concerns, and she didn’t like preparing meals based on his special needs. Dad had been cooking for himself, he said. When they had disagreements about who pays for what in the house and other things (mainly about mom’s commitment to tea-ceremony related activities), mom would make up excuses to go out and avoided cooking meals for him or eating with him.

Well, that’s dad's side of the story and I don’t believe everything he says. But the fact is that now she’s doing the same to me, too. And I have to admit that being impatient, I did tell her not to do certain things and fed into her behavior pattern. Now she refuses to eat in the dining room no matter how much we ask or tell her to, and to avoid being with me, she once stayed overnight at her sister’s house.

Her usual pattern seems to be: when she gets upset, she stops eating, then starts eating a little in her room, and comes back to the kitchen in a few days to eat there while no one is around. Of course she doesn’t eat anything I prepared or touched while in a hunger strike.

Obviously she is not getting enough nutrition. On the other hand, “the cruellest daughter in the world who chased her mother away from the kitchen to let her starve” is getting fatter, having to consume the fresh food from the veggie gardens, orchards and food co-op delivery. Not a beautiful scene, isn’t it? Maybe it was my mistake, but for some reason, I didn’t feel like forcing her to stop her avoidance behavior. Especially when she was testing me.

Perhaps, by starving herself, she is telling the whole world that she is not getting what she wants. She didn’t get it from the arranged marriage to start with, and then from her children, relatives, or anyone or anything. And she has been telling me so over and over since my childhood.
But mom, is starving yourself getting what you really want now? Or will it?

The ocean is not always calm...


19 comments:

K and S said...

gosh, those are some rough challenges...I wish I had some advice but I don't...hang in there!

Cara said...

Your mom seems to be moving in a vicious circle, most of us do, actually, probably all of us do. The only way I know to break this behaviour pattern is to become aware of it by yourself and get professional help. Probably both not possible and I guess therapy is still very much frowned upon in Japan anyway.
This pattern has served her well all her life and forgive my German bluntness: there is nothing much you can do.
She has to WANT to break out.
I can't come up with a way you could actively help her since most things just seem to feed the circle and if you kept some behaviour pattern for long, it tends to stick around very, very hard.
I guess what I want to say is:
It's not your fault, Obachan.

Fiona said...

Cara has it right -- your mum has to want help, sadly, and it sounds like something deeply rooted. It's not your fault, and it's not your dad's fault either.

Here's hoping things get better for you. Big hug to you.

ghanima said...

Moving back in with one's parents certainly does pose its own set of unique challenges, doesn't it? I don't know how many other of your readers can say the same, but this really is when you get to come to terms with how insane your own family is, and how much you've matured since leaving there initially.

I'm going to back up the rest of the advice which has been provided here and say that you shouldn't blame yourself. Your mother clearly has established this pattern of behaviour for herself, and has done so as an adult who is capable of making her own decisions. If she chooses to put her own health at risk through her actions, that -- unfortunately -- is her choice to make. The best you can do is to be there for her when she realizes, on her own, how silly she's being, and decides to eat with you again. It's her loss for not wanting to share time with you, and the avoiding food you put your love and effort into. In the meantime, you can take solace in the fact that you're providing a much-needed service to your father by providing him with meals that meet his dietary requirements, whether or not you've gotten upset at him.

Tindy said...

Let me just mention how amazing it is that your mum had an arranged marriage - almost no one does that in America and as far as I recall "love marriages" swept most of Japan, didn't they?

<3 You'll figure out the challenges soon and then they'll be the same as noisy trucks at 3am (you won't notice them).

Anonymous said...

Dear obachan,
I believe to a certain point ..older people tend to behave like that especially Asian mothers. My Japanese friend tells me the same thing- his mother and his sister would neglect their families but will put in lot of effort for tea ceremonies with their friends. His sister , a single mother would many times not even bother to feed her kids-5-10yrs old.
My mother on the other hand, same thing, she doesnt like our food or anything she goes on strike but i know she snuck down and eat. When my dad was dying she did not even bother taking care of him ( its was a love marriage -- or maybe he loved her and she loved his position and money) During those times .. all she complained about was,, full benefot and control of his money. Now we found a nice condo facing th lake for her 2 mins from my house.. she doesnt even pay for it , nor the groceries or anything. I paid for everything , every single thing inclduing salt and pads!!! I have a freezer full of food in her place just for her-- she tells everyone she doesnt eat as shes now alone.. But my freezer full of meat, seafood,poultry even birds nest is all gone???? Yestrday I took her out to lunch , we ordered 4 dishes plus 1/2 a Peking duck ( includes all the meat) plus a soup and dessert for both of us plus my daughter-- she ate almost all the duck but came home and told her freinds she only ate a small piece of skin!!!!!! I have learnt to accept all her nonsense, at least all my friends even the Drs. know I'm not like that, though for the first few years it was very hard for me. But since they see me take her on cruises, expensive hotels, trips overseas., pay for her fancy condo, food. yet she has the money but wont spent and I'm in debt helping her. how can I be such a wicked bad daughter??? I was sick in bed 2 days ago and she called me to even though I said I can't even move or see to drive. Her a answer?? "Well I'm old" ( she doesnt have any illness at all at her age) I had to serve her like a frail old lady since she was a healthy 50!!! So dear obachan , you are a dutiful daughter, don't let this bother you. just love your father and make sure hes taken care of and just accept your mother will never change at that age.
P.S.
even while I'm typing this, she just called to scream at me for something she misplaced

Keona

Anonymous said...

sigh,,, well, I think I understand both of you and your mother. とても難しい問題ですね。私も老女の一人になりつつあり、また私の母は現在89歳です。大人になってから親と暮らすのは大変なことは私もよくわかります。お母様、長い結婚生活(それも意に沿わないお見合い結婚ならなおさら)いろいろご苦労があったことでしょう。お父様も同じでしょうね。私の両親も似たようなものでした。
どうかおばちゃん(私よりずっと年下の方をこう呼ぶのに抵抗ありますが)美味しいものと畑とすばらしい自然で癒されてくださいね。 毎回このブログの素敵な写真で、私の苦しみも軽くなります。

sora

obachan said...

K & S;
Your frequent visits, and leaving a comment to almost every post here are such a great support, Kat.
:)

Cara;
Thank you so much for your comment. I totally agree with you that she has to want to break out, and no one can change her. On the other hand, I believe that the dynamics within a family can be at least-- how should I say -- stimulated? affected? influenced? or imbalanced, though not totally "fixed". It won't be like "solving" the problem or changing the personality of the family member(s), but more like improving the mood of the elderly and as a result, reducing the problem behavior. I guess that's about what you can realistically hope for. That's what I think I learned from my very limited experience at an old people's home.

Probably one thing I could do is establishing a good basis of my life here. I guess the issue has been aggravated by the fact that here, at the moment, I have no friends, no job, no income, no social life and no conversation that I'm used to. Maybe that is making me more impatient than I want to admit. Maybe, when I feel more on my feet in this house, my mood would change and it could affect the dynamics... somehow. Oh, I don't know. I could be wrong. But it wouldn't hurt to think this way.

Fiona;
Thank you. I needed a hug so badly. Really appreciate it. :D

Ghanima;
Your comment really made me feel easier. Thanks. Like I wrote in my response to Cara, as I be more on my feet here, I should be able to think more constructively.

It's just the beginning of my life here and certainly not the end of the world, right? ;)

Tindy;
Oh, my parents got married long time ago, even before I was born. LOL Things were quite backward then, especially in rural places.

BTW, I like the "noisy trucks at 3am." ;) Thanks.

Keona;
I see you are in so much pain, Keona. I really hope that things get better for you there.

Yeah, probably my mom won't "change" at that age. I'm trying to see it from a little different perspective, as I wrote in my response to Cara. And whether it works or not, I'm going to have to make trials and errors and keep learning anyway. It really helps to have a place to share what I go through. I appreciate it that you shared yours. Hang in there!

Sora;
Thank you so much for your comment.
心のこもったコメントを本当にありがとうございます。独り暮らしの時には無縁だった事と、いろいろ向き合うことになるものだなあと痛感してる毎日です。それでもやはり、ここに来たのは間違いだった、とは思えなくて。まあこれからもなんだかんだモメながらやって行くんじゃないかと思います。そういうモメる相手がいるというのも、思えば幸せなことなのかもですね。

Anonymous said...

dear obachan & keona,
it really sounds tough. But i really admire both of you for hanging in there and being the mature dutiful daughter and taking care of things. my thoughts are with both of you. m

obachan said...

Thank you. I really appreciate your kindness. :)

emi said...

It is never easy to live with ageing parents. I am surprised you took a step to live with them and have to endure a lot of emotionals blackmail as is common from older people.
Sometime it is hard but having to do the "honor our parents", i am sure one day they would understand and knowing who is kind and good to them. Press On and take heart, life is good at least with all your oranges making you happy..hahaha

Anonymous said...

Hi Obachan,
I began to accept my parents imperfections long time ago but it must be tough being 24/7 with them, I can fully relate to where you are coming from. There is this saying, old habits die hard. I always ponder what is the most important thing and sometimes if it it just requires going with the flow or staying with the status quo, i just start compromising... it all depends what you see is most important at the stage you are in your life at the moment.
Soon when you are finally settled things will just get better and better.

carlyn said...

Obachan;
Gosh, I know how it is with aging parent(s). Just know it is nothing you do or don't do...chin up!!!!
...and to KEONA...do you share custody of MY mother?!!!!! Sounds as though my mother has a twin!!! ha ha

Rinshinomori said...

I didn't know whether to comment or not, but having lost our parents already at least you still have them. Not perfect certainly, but they are part of your life. Enjoy them.

Anonymous said...

That's such a familiar scene at home too. =( 手に負えないね。。。

It's a very psycho thing, my mom takes those action not to make herself feel better, but to make everyone feel worse, indebted, or guilty. The severity gets worse as she ages, and she's only in her early 50s. Is your mom violent? Mine is.

She lays her landmines everywhere, some spots she doesn't even remember, or justified. It's a lot like our several inputs, love and kindness can be nullified by a single mistake. Nobody is forgivable, only her わがまま is. And it's sad. We're all tired.

We can't change our moms. But we can decide if our lives be bitter as a result. Obachan, you'll do fine. Things get better, and I hope that you'll find new friends and support soon. Well at least, we're listening. Hugs.

madsilence said...

MUKADE? ACK! Those things are super creepy O.o Have you tried putting drops of true lavendar essential around your room? or citronella? bugs hate those.

obachan said...

Emi;
Thanks for your comment. With the rapid growth of aging population, our choices are becoming limited here in this country, especially in rural areas. Here, unless you're extremely rich, you've got to learn to live with them in regular households with the help from the community and the government. Actually, I'm much better off than those who are living in big cities and taking care of their parents, paying expensive rent and having to buy food from stores. :)

Anonymous commenter;
Yeah, compromising. When I was younger, the word "compromising" sounded rathe negative, but now I feel I'm learning the "art of compromising" little by little. Or "being flexible." I don't really know when I can ever feel "settled" but I'll keep hoping.
:)

Carlyn;
Thanks for your support.

Rinshinomori;
I understand why you hesitated, and I appreciate it so much that you decided to comment. Thank you.
:)

Anonymous commenter;
Gosh, my mom isn't violent, at least. It must be really hard to live with someone violent. I hope you can get help from somewhere...
Big hugs to you, too.

Madsilence;
Lavendar? Really? It it works for mukade, it would be a better choice than the carcinogenic para-dichlorobenzene. (But lavendar gives me a slight headache...)

Ellydishes said...

Oh my... I can't stand centipedes... I grew up in Tuscon, Arizona in a part of the Sonoran desert which is really beautiful and really... filled with bugs. Kumo and mukade and sasori! (I'm really sympathizing with the bug reports).
Well, maybe this is a ridiculous solution, but what about keeping a couple of pet cats? We had three cats, and very few vermin dared to enter our house or tangle with my mother's garden because of them...

obachan said...

I've been to Tuscon, and I WAS quite worried to see sasori while I was there (just one day, though). Fortunately I didn't have a chance to see a live one. I saw some dead ones in candies. (Who the hell would eat 'em?)

I would love the cat solution, but alas, my parents do not like keeping pets especially cats. For them cats are enemies that would steel fish from the kitchen...

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