I feel the need to say once again, unequivocally, I love my parents. Starting a post this way seems a bit like beginning a statement with "No offense, but..." Clearly whatever comes next will be insulting. And yet.
Being at my childhood home puts me in a difficult emotional place. In my grown-up real life, I don't much entertain adults who are often intentionally vague, deny their own needs, and/or indulge in passive-aggressiveness. (I add the qualifier "often" because I fully admit that on occasion I have muttered Fine when I'm really not and I have accepted the role of Martyr for A Day more than once). On a regular basis, that kind of behavior is jaw-clenchingly tedious at best, murderously aggravating at worst. When that behavior comes from one's own mother, it's easy to a) worry & fret that one might be headed that way and b) suppress screaming so hard that one's head is heavy with agony. Both are exceedingly difficult.
There seems to be some kind of hypnotic brain-bending that goes on in my parents' house. It's like the field of poppies in "The Wizard of Oz" - I walk in, happy to see everyone, it's Christmas! I love my family! Then my head starts to hurt and my vision gets fuzzy; I'm not a capable adult anymore. I forget to take off my shoes, I forget to have my kids take off their shoes; where are we putting our coats? - Oh dear! Who is talking so loudly? Why can't we turn off the TV now? How about now? No one can play outside because it's raining; we don't play in the rain here because it's too cold and there's mud. Please stop running, and lower your voices. You can't eat that because it's only for breakfast/later/someone else. Am I sure I want to wear this? Why do we have to go shopping/visit people/watch TV again? I can't think; everything is hard; I need to lie down for just a minute.
Ahhhhh. It's so much nicer here where I can say what I think & mean and people's feelings aren't hurt, or if they are, they say so. And then I can apologize and be sorry without guilt, or I can respectfully disagree. There is no gossipping about anyone's hair or clothes or bad habits. To be very fair, my mom is quite generous with us (almost too much so but then again, that creates guilt - why won't you take these things things things I bought for you?) and she has tried harder during the last few visits to offer excursions that don't involve going to a hundred stores for no real reason or stopping by acquaintances' homes unannounced just to say "Hi! Here is my daughter and son-in-law and grandson and granddaughter! They're from Portland!" (We're really not).
But it can still be so exhausting. I hold my breath for days, waiting to get back here for fresh air.