Dear Annie: Concerns about cross-country trek
Dear Annie: Every summer for the last 15 years, my mother has insisted on driving 1,500 miles to spend 10 days with me. We have had some really fun visits, but now she is 88 years old and just had heart surgery. She frequently falls despite using a walker. Additionally, she drives with my brother with special needs, who also has mobility limitations.
I am worried sick about my mother’s and brother’s health and safety because I think of so many scenarios that could happen. They spend six nights in hotels on the road and 10 more nights in a hotel once they arrive because I live in a small one-bedroom townhouse. This excursion is very costly, and because she has depleted her savings, the financial burden falls on my siblings and me.
I offered to fly out my mother so she could stay at my place, but she insists on driving. She has flown to visit friends and left my brother home alone so I know that isn’t the issue. I also frequently fly to visit them throughout the year.
Another frustration is that I have run out of things to do and places to take them during their visit because of their limited mobility. Essentially, they drive 1,500 miles just to sit in my living room and watch TV all day and go out for lunch and dinner.
This week, I finally was firm and told my mother that she will NOT be driving 1,500 miles this summer, and I will buy her a plane ticket instead. Her reply was that she is the parent and will take the trip her way. The entire family opposes her driving, even the grandchildren. Any other ideas how we can halt this cross-country drive? — Exasperated with Stubborn Mother
Dear Son of a Stubborn Mother: The first step is to try to change the way you view your mother’s challenging position. Stubbornness is a close relative of persistence — a trait needed for success in many areas of life. Judging from your mother’s persistence in seeing her family, and the value family holds for her, I say that this is a great quality. Your strong-willed mother might not be easy to deal with, but it sounds like she has a lot of determination.
Now that you have a little perspective on the beauty of stubbornness, let’s get to the safety issue. Congrats on offering to fly your mother and brother out. That is both very generous of you and a great solution.
Take long, deep breaths before your conversation with her. Remember that stubborn people are hard of hearing, so to speak, so timing can be everything. Tell your mom slowly and very patiently that you hear her commitment and appreciate her wanting to visit. Let her know that you understand her opinion and value her persistence. However, you have concerns about the long drive. It comes from how much you love her and your brother and you want them to arrive at your house safely and without stress. Try not to raise your voice with her and instead tell her how much you love her. It should soften her heart and help her to hear yours and her grandchildren’s points of view.
Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.