Sorry I checked out for a couple weeks. Vacation is vacation after all, and I find I'm really good at unplugging.
I've been watching my meager stats for this blog, and I'm surprised daily by which posts are drawing the most views. The one that stands out above all the others is the one about Presumptuous People. Either I am one, or there are a whole lot of other people out there dealing with overwhelmingly presumptuous people of their own, and they must like hearing they're not alone.
For me, the latest foray into dealing with a presumptuous situation has to do unfortunately, with my mother in law. You see, my husband has been dealing with an ailment for several months, and it's been enough of a thing, that he sought a consultation with a surgeon. Nothing overly serious, just really cramping his style, and causing a real good dose of continuous pain. When it looked like he might require surgery, my mother in law mentioned coming to spend a weekend with us. I assumed that was so she could spend time getting to know her granddaughter better...and I really should know better by now.
When I suggested locking on a date for that, she said "well let's wait and find out when M's surgery is, and I'll come down to help you out after that." I still can't tell if this was prompted by her thinking she's the only one who could possibly look after her ailing son, OR if it's because she actually thinks that it would be of some kind of help to me. I'm guessing if I have the stress of my husband recovering from surgery, catering to my mother in law and dealing with her whole host of "woe's me" would send me to the booby hatch. And I've learned never to assume anything with this family.
Fast forward to finding out that M doesn't require surgery after all...he just has to pull up his big boy pants and suck it up sunshine, til it gets better. This sucks, but it means we don't have the added worries of a surgery to contend with and that's very relieving. Taking the opportunity then to get the weekend visit scheduled before other complicating factors could sway plans, I suggested a weekend in August...you see any later and then it's not even a real option because they have a gazillion animals in the house, and they heat that house with wood. So no leaving a burning fire in the fireplace with a pile of animals locked in, and no leaving them out in the cold will do obviously. SO - she jumps on it, and says yes - which was wonderful. But OH, we were committed to going down and spending the weekend with her brother around the same time to celebrate his birthday. I like M's aunt and uncle, so I suggest that we have them come up to the house for dinner...
Her response: "Wonderful. It's a plan then."
I left feeling like I had another task checked off the proverbial list and could swing getting another "scheduled activity" done and dusted - freeing up labour day weekend for us to chill out and hide from humanity after an incredibly busy summer. And now my daughter will get the dedicated grandparent time she needs and deserves, and well, I can collect the wifely bonus points for being such a good daughter in law.
Then she kept pushing - had I invited the aunt and uncle for dinner yet? See - when I'm busy and disconnected, I really mean it. I make maybe 1 phone call a day to my mother just to let her know I'm still alive. When I finally got around to phoning, M's aunt of course accepted the invitation, and then filled me in on my mother in law's original plan. Cue the ominous music please.
She was going to come down to visit the aunt and uncle for the weekend, convince my sister in law and the family to drive in (a 7 hour drive they'd rather take ONLY if the alternative route was a 5 minute stroll through hell), and they'd have us join them at the aunt's also...and then she said, I would do the cooking...yes you read that right. But just in case you missed it, let me reiterate....I WOULD DO THE COOKING.
Really? And when was I going to be asked to do this? And excuse me "WHY ME?"
But that's really not all of it...there was no asking the aunt and the uncle if it would be OK for her to come down and visit for a weekend or which weekend might be more convenient for them. It was just a statement..."I'm coming for a weekend". And there was no asking the aunt what she'd want to do for food, let alone an offer to bring something so the aunt wouldn't be more put out than she should be. There was no question if she'd be comfortable with someone else cooking in her kitchen...NEVER mind assuming that one's daughter in law would just say "Sure...let me whip up something awesome for this tribe here at the very last minute."
Like wow, what was going to come next? Written and hand delivered invitations to the neighbours?
So I wish I had some advice on how to make presumptuous people aware of the impacts their behaviours have on others. Or how to prevent it from happening to us routine victims of said behaviour. But the only nugget of wisdom I keep turning to is "cut them loose", which I gotta say sometimes comes with a price. In my case, I'll just keep being creative with alternatives that are more manageable, and I'll say "no" when it's absolutely the right thing for me to say. Otherwise, I'm afraid cutting it loose isn't the option for me.
If it were a friend or acquaintance, that would be it for me. People get 3 strikes in my life...when they burn through them, I don't typically hang on to be used again. It's sad when you have to do it, and it certainly makes you feel bad. But in the long run, being around people like this is toxic. It makes the relationship very lop sided and what happens when a scale tips? Well, one end of the scale is left floating out in no mans land while the other is grounded, safe and has access to whatever it's basic needs are (and then some).
Surround yourself with people who appreciate the gifts you offer and demonstrate that by offering you as much in return. This isn't a tit for tat recommendation, but it is about surrounding yourself with like minded, genuine and generous people who are free with their time, their love and support. People who are like that are all way too busy giving of themselves and you'll never find them being presumptuous about what you can do for them.