For the last year or more, we’ve been sending my mother post-dated cheques each month to help her out with whatever she needs. It is a royal pain in the ass, because who the fuck uses cheques anymore. I’ve done the research, and it is literally the only way to get the money to my mother because you can’t e-transfer cash to someone who has no e.

The cheques ran out this month, and I had a brilliant idea: why not replace the cheques with a credit card that mom can use whenever she needs anything. Several times this year I’ve had to provide my credit card information to strangers over the phone, because mom needed my help paying for something. I’d have her go and get/do what she needed, then have them call me for payment. It, like most things involving my mother, is a royal pain in the ass. If mom had a credit card she didn’t need to worry about, she could get these things herself. Less ass-pain for me, more freedom for mom. It’s win win!

I just spent half an hour on the phone with my mother, walking her through the complicated scenario of “use this card whenever you need to buy anything”. See, she used my monthly cheque to pay health/car/whatever insurance – how would she pay those without the money I give her? Easily, I explained: use the new card for anything you buy. You won’t be spending your money, so when your insurance payments are due, it’ll just come out of your account like normal.

“Okay so I take this card to my insurance and pay there?” No, you don’t need to do that. Because you aren’t spending the money in your bank account when you do groceries or go shopping, you can pay for insurance. “How will I do that without your cheque?” When you use the card, you’re spending MY money, not your own. “So I can use this card and pay my insurance?” No, mom. You don’t use the card for insurance. You use it for everything else. “Oh so I can buy whatever I need, like insurance?” NO, MOM. “I take the card to the bank and they pay my insurance?” WHAT. NO. “But then how do I pay my insurance?” MOM. LISTEN TO ME. THROW AWAY YOUR BANK CARD. USE THIS CARD INSTEAD. “For my insurance?” NO, MOM. FOR EVERYTHING ELSE. *explains how money works* “Why couldn’t you just give me cheques? This is so complicated!” Mom, we’re giving you more money this way. It’s not complicated. Cheques are complicated. “Well, I’ll take this to the medical office and see if they can pay my insurance with it.” .. sure, mom. Let me know if it works. If you need more help, tell [current elderly man friend] to call me and I’ll explain it to him. “Hah! He doesn’t understand anything, that won’t help!”

As we said our goodbyes, I was slow to hang up the phone. The last thing I heard before my head exploded was “aye yi yi!”, said to her cat and the TV.

Please do not let me have any further brilliant ideas when it comes to my mother.

[end scene]


holy infant neuroses stockpiled

I recently reached out to the internet to ask what the hell I should buy my analog, easily confused, doesn’t have any hobbies, doesn’t like going places, doesn’t really do things, complicated, one-true-diabetic (who isn’t diabetic) mother for Christmas. Many people stepped up and offered suggestions, which I appreciate – but can’t use, for the following reasons:

  • Soap: My mother hordes household supplies, and will buy absolutely anything from Shopper’s Drug Mart if it’s on the clearance shelf. She has soap, both normal and melamine-filled floral poison, coming out the wazoo. I’m sorry if you just pictured my mother’s wazoo. It was not my intention.
  • Bungee Jumping: See above re: doesn’t do things. Also, my mother is 73. She is frustrating, but I don’t mean it when I think she should jump off a bridge.
  • Slippers: This is actually my default gift. She’s specifically asked me not to buy her anymore slippers because she has so many pairs.
  • Tea: If you think I’m stubborn and stuck in my ways, you need to meet my mother. She drinks Red Rose, full stop. Nothing else.
  • Fancy Hand Cream: Often the poison soap my mother buys on ultra clearance from the drug store is part of a set that comes with hand cream. I assume it is made from ground-up children’s teeth.
  • A Toilet Paper Cabinet: My mother collects curbside furniture like I collect boys at LAN parties. There is no room in her place for additional furniture.
  • Note or Letter Writing Things: Pens come from the bank or doctor’s office, and she is still using up the scrap paper my dad used to bring home from work quartered and stapled together into notepads. I’m quite serious about this: my dad died 12 years ago and retired probably 25 years ago, but she’s still going through discarded CHEK TV memos from 1991.
  • Sony Handicam Hi-8: This is how horror movies start.
  • Cat Butt Fridge Magnets: .. this is actually a solid idea. I’d have to explain them to her, but she might get a kick of out them.
  • Post-Its: See above re: notepaper
  • Ridicule and Shame: This blog post.
  • Books: This idea has merit, but I hesitate to choose books for her. Maybe I’ll take her to a used book store and let her go hog wild with the romance and mystery novels.
  • Year-Long Subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club: My mother is already confused when I send her random packages from Amazon, thanks to an incident that included a pair of Webkinz headphones by mistake. She saved them for me, in case I needed them. I did not.
  • Uber Credit: My mother still drives, Uber does not exist in Victoria, and I do not use them because of their terrible policies. Also, my mother is analog. How do you order an Uber without a smart phone? You don’t.
  • Visa Gift Card: This is actually spot on, except it’s not a gift card: for Christmas, I’m giving my mother a “you’re a responsible young lady who has saved up money from babysitting, and we are giving you this card to use for purchases or emergencies. We trust you not to abuse it.” credit card to use for groceries or thongs or whatever it is 73-year-old women buy. It has a limit set, and I’ll just pay it off when she uses it. This will also replace the cheques I send her each month, because I am tired of having to order cheques for literally this sole purpose.
  • Lottery Tickets: I will save you the backstory if you do not already know it, but my mother has a gambling problem via lottery tickets and I hate them with every fibre of my being as they were the direct cause of many of the abuses I suffered while growing up. I would sooner buy my mother a smartphone and teach her how to use it than be party to her lottery dealings. You know how I said earlier that she has no hobbies? I lied. She does. It’s lottery tickets, and running lottery pools with dozens of different groups of people. While I’m secretly slightly impressed at how she keeps them all organized and going with no technology whatsoever, I still hate it.
  • A Tablet That Only Runs a Clicker Game: Even if I did absolutely everything: set it up, get it running, use a kiosk software that does not allow people to exit the app so she can’t accidentally delete the OS (or even worse, upgrade to Windows 10) .. she wouldn’t get it, or see the point. This is the woman who asks if I’m “faxing Ed” when I send him messages (that mostly consist of WHERE ARE YOU HELP ME OMG). The thought of her using a tablet .. no. We’re barely keeping the 7th seal closed; why would I voluntarily open the 6th?
  • Photo Album of my Instagram Posts: I actually really like this idea .. for someone else’s mom. My mother doesn’t care enough about my life or travels to want to see any of them. I’ve shown her a few things to gauge her response level, and she wanders off to pray to daddy by the 4th image. The attention span needed to be into anything I do is simply not there.
  • Tweezers: She’s never expressed interest or need in tweezers, but I’d buy them for her if she asked. Perhaps I will call her and say “hey mom do you have tweezers”. For anyone else, this would be a strange phone call.
  • A Subscription to Sports Illustrated (but keep the free football phone): Do they still DO that? While she does watch hockey, she has no interest in anything else (especially American football and bikini-clad women) so it would be money wasted. Also, I went through a LOT of trouble setting her up with a cordless phone that has caller ID and speed dial and a voice machine. A football has none of these things!
  • LuLaRoe: My mother does not wear leggings or bizarrely patterened cotton goods. She wears whatever she finds on super discount, or that I buy for her, in multiple layers.
  • Glitter: I don’t actually know how she would react to glitter. It’s just .. glitter. Essential for me, yes – but what would she do with it? Sprinkle it on the various shrines set up in her house? Accidentally start a fast-spreading fire by getting it too close to the dozens of lit candles? Great, now the house is burning down and she has to move in with me and I’m Lizzie Bordening all over the place. THANKS, KAREN. GREAT IDEA YOU HAD THERE. (<3)

Those are all the ideas that were submitted via Facebook, and we’re still at square one. I did order a few things off Amazon for her – I love Amazon gift shipping, it’s as delightfully impersonal as you can get while still showing effort – some treats for her cat Sam, and a whole bunch of flameless LED (yes, she calls them “LSD lights”) candles for her shrine. That should solve one of my problems – the flamability of cat hair and old food – but I don’t think it’s enough.

Maybe I could just forgive her for causing my gift-related neuroses when I was 10, which has led me to literally obsess to the point of tears every year that I am not gifting well enough and people will stop loving me because I didn’t get them multiple perfect gifts. How do you wrap that, though?


all i want for christmas is ativan

conversations with my mother

Mom doesn’t trust anyone: “I found dad’s birth certificate, but you have to be very careful what you do with it because he lied about his age and they might sue”

Mom makes a series of strange puns about her upcoming urologist appointment: “I’m going to the midsummer’s stream on Tuesday and I’ll just go with the flow”

Mom is nervous: “I’m nervous, but I remembered what daddy always said: ‘don’t be nervous'”

Mom is excellent at anatomy: “It’s common for women to have a bladder”

.. and excuses: “That’s why you have to drink a lot”