DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: Not wanting to freeload, I suggested that my mom charge me rent. She seemed surprised, and said she’d get back to me on that. Later, she appeared in a rather formal outfit, and said she was now my landlady. She spelled out my rental rate and terms; it was higher than I had planned on, but she conveyed such an air of authority that I didn’t argue.
Later, when she was back to her normal self, I told her the rate was too high. She stepped out and returned as the “landlady,” and asked what the problem was. I explained that the rate was more than I could afford; she told me I could either pay it or find somewhere else to live.
I decided to forget about rent and hoped my mom would also. However, I have now received notices of late rent and eviction.
Not caring to interact with her alter-ego, I haven’t tried to talk with my mom about this. She is normally loving and supportive, but I’m afraid she will transform into the “landlady” and kick me out, or possibly sue me for the rent and late fees I already owe.
Should I pass my mom a note explaining that I love her, but I don't like her alter-ego, and I can’t afford the rate she is trying to charge me? I would have trouble finding another place to live, and I regret ever mentioning rent. Anything else I should include? --- THE “LANDLADY’S” KID
DEAR THE “LANDLADY’S” KID: I’m speculating that this alter ego approach is your mom’s way of letting you know you can have her be your mom, or you can have her be your landlady, but she isn’t inclined to be both. She may also be trying to teach you a lesson about the necessity of sticking to the terms of an agreement, even when you find yourself in over your head. A third potential scenario is she’s giving you a not-so-subtle nudge toward getting a place of your own.
I think you originally did the right thing in offering to pay some kind of rent. Where you might have gone wrong was not negotiating hard enough for a financial arrangement you could easily manage — another life lesson, courtesy your mother.
Perhaps it’s now your turn to play a little hardball back, and renegotiate the terms of your tenancy in her house. You could try slipping “Mom” a note pleading your case, but you may have more success putting together a formal, well-thought-out counterproposal addressed to the “Landlady.”