Dealing with my parents

Trip Start Oct 30, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Israel  ,
Saturday, July 12, 2008

My mother spends most of her waking hours sitting in front of the TV watching Spanish soap operas. In between episodes she would cook a meal for my father (who is lying in a bed in the next room) and give orders to their Indian live-in aid (which they refer to as "The Filipino") regarding the cleaning of the house, taking care of my father, and send him on errands, mostly to pick up prescription drugs from the pharmacy (for both herself and my dad).

My father has been lying in bed for many many years. In fact, I have very few memories of him doing anything else. He spends his day watching soccer games and sport programs on TV in full volume. He moans loudly and complains to anyone willing to hear him about how he'd rather not live and how miserable he is and how he does not like to be a burden. That does not stop him, however, from being a finicky eater and from calling his aid every five minutes to do something for him.

They don't like each other, my parents. At least publicly. After being with them for a couple of weeks I did not like them either.

My mother complains that my dad is driving her mad and that she wants him in a nursing home. My father complains that she is always screaming at him and avoids him for days in a row.

It seems, at least at first glance, that complaining is all they do and is the only thing they have in common.

I tried to intervene, mostly out of sheer frustration, and see if we could do something to improve the situation, like moving my father to a nursing home.  I quickly found out that no one was interested in changing anything. They are not complaining because they want change. They complain because that is what they do.

Earlier this year I have realized that complaining attracts to my life more of what I do not want and therefore I have intended to reduce (if not completely eliminate) complaining from my life. My attempt to "help out" my parents supposedly came from a wanting to help them attract positive experiences. But to be very honest, it most likely came from not wanting to be in the presence of constant complaining. "It rubs off on you", my friend Dariush used to tell me once.

So I decided to examine my relationship with my parents through the paradigm I developed this past year and found out that I was feeling LACK in  my relationship with them.

My complaint was "Why can't I have that (anymore)?" (why can't I have "normal" parents? Why can't I have supportive and loving rather than demanding and complaining parents? etc.)
I noticed that my immediate reaction to their behavior was of STINGINESS. "I do not want/cannot give/share with you what I have!" (I don't want to spend time with you. I cannot love you the way you are now, etc.)

Based on the paradigm I knew that the area I could look into to improve the situation for me is of GENEROSITY. In this case, being generous enough to give my parents the space to be the way they are without judging them. Spending time with them hearing their complaints without taking part in it. Just be there, patiently listen, notice the generosity in being there for them, and then leave knowing that all is well.

They will be joyful for the opportunity to vent and I will be joyful for the opportunity to be peaceful, humble and generous in what I initially perceived as an impossible challenge.

My first attempt was today. I visited for a couple of hours. It was nice. My father was too tired to talk. My mother was immersed with her telenovela . Commercial breaks were used to complain about my sister-in-law and about the fact that I did not eat (for breakfast) the spaghetti with chicken she made for me. I practiced some yoga in the dining room. Ate a little, and left. Joy!
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