And so it begins anew.
This is a continuation of previous post, which can be found here. (I got a bit heavy-handed with my use of [Redacted] in that post, and for that I apologize, but also smile a little – I think it’s odd that I attempted to apply such civility to that post. It adds a small element of youth, of naivete, of hope, I guess.)
Again, I share the sentiments that I am entirely confused.
I guess the refrain is this: I cannot understand what I’ve done wrong.
The email came from G on Thursday, and can basically be summed up as saying, “Let’s meet in Washington Park on Sunday night to celebrate the 57th wedding anniversary.”
I was keen.
Friday night, I get a text from Aunt X saying that they’re in town. How about Saturday? I respond that I’m unable to do Saturday as I’ll be babysitting (Barney live, anyone?).
The response comes via email. Here’s my favorite line: (Katie & Mike can’t make it…understandable at it is a Saturday night and they are in their 20’s!)
I am in my 20s. But the implication lying beneath that sentence would have you believe that I was out partying, rather than helping a family with three children attend their first Barney concert. For the record, they loved it. It was a really magical experience for them, and the day went smoothly. I stayed there from 2pm until 8pm. After, I went to Aunt S’s birthday at other G’s house. I arrived in time for lemonade and cake. And then I went home and went to sleep, as I had to babysit another family the next morning.
No partying at all this weekend. Babysitting. (Just so we’re all clear about my priorities.)
I texted Aunt X and asked for a drink/coffee date so that we could have a heart-to-heart. She responded that she’d get back to me, then asked if I could let her know if Dad was going to be coming that night. (It was Saturday) I responded that I hadn’t talked to him.
At this point, I was livid. Fury. I am a passionate person, but I’m slow to anger. Once I’m there, though, is a different story. But don’t think that just because I’m angry doesn’t mean I can’t be rational – I consider myself very logical, rational, even cold, at times.
I will not relinquish a point simply because I feel pressured to do so. I don’t lie. And I’m not fake, so pretending nothing’s wrong isn’t my style, either.
And so Dad, Jeanie, Mike and I had a lovely evening in City Park last night, listening to jazz and playing frisbee. It was non-argumentative. It was light. I gushed about S and blathered on about my exciting news and future plans.
This morning, I woke up happy. Calm. Family is what you make of it, good or bad. And creating your own family is something that’s the most fun to do.
I got a text from Aunt X saying that we were meeting for a picnic at the pool at 6pm tonight. I groaned inwardly. I don’t get off of work until 6 at the earliest. I’m not trying to use that a crutch, I’ve got time quotas to meet.
So I wait, text my brother, see if he’s going. He is. I text back that Mike is in and that I’ll be there as soon as I’m off of work, what can I bring?
I am not by my phone when I get the call.
I listen to the voice mail. My stomach lurches, the hurt crawls back up into my heart. My ears ring. I turn up my music. I gulp for air.
I call her back. We exchange muted pleasantries, and then I say, “First of all, I want you to know that I’m not looking for a food hand-out. I offered to bring something, and I’d be more than happy to bring whatever you’d like. Just let me know what I can bring.”
And suddenly, she’s off on me. Talking about the medical conditions of her hostess, my G, and this and that and how she’ll take care of dinner and she’ll haul it over to the pool by herself. I cut in, “I am well aware (of the medical conditions),” I say. She tells me not to bring anything. Just to show up. The line cuts off.
My hands are shaking.
I’m more confused than ever.
I consider myself a strong woman, not one to back down from something that’s seriously upsetting me. But I’m finding myself unable to find a logical opening on the other side. It’s as though every step I try to take is a misstep.
I guess I’m not sure if this means that it’s time to stop trying so hard to be a part of a family that seems to be making it very clear that I’m not welcome.
My Aunt X once told me not to go to grad school, and then made some joke about “not everyone can be a housewife.” Well, being a housewife isn’t everyone’s dream. I mean, it must be nice. (Don’t for a second think I’m negating the stresses and workload of the domestic spouse – it’s a very necessary and overwhelming experience. The raising of children is a complicated matter.)
But for someone to question why I babysit and who I babysit for – that’s crossing lines I’m not prepared for. I don’t want a running commentary going on about the rich people I babysit for. That’s hardly the case. Sometimes two parents work – it must seem strange to someone so removed from that – but in that case, childcare becomes a very necessary, and expensive, expense.
And that’s where I come in.
I babysit for two reasons: I love it and I need the cash.
I love children. I am not making enough at my day job to sustain myself, and in order to not have terrified tears streaming down my face at the end of every month, I work extra hours to make ends meet. It’s not a new thing, the idea of two jobs has existed forever.
I’m great with children – all of my families love me, have loved me, and continue to love me. I’m engaged, polite, I uphold their disciplinary standards and their values. I’ve sat for Christians, Jews, atheists…and my manner has not wavered. Respect, I believe they call it. I’m not sure if they are teaching that in churches these days or not. (And yes, that comment was derogatory and disrespectful. I’m not turning my other damn cheek – I am no doormat. I wasn’t raised to not stand up for what I believe in and I’m sure as hell not going to back down now, especially because I am the one who has been attacked.)
I find it interesting that the financial element keeps rearing its ugly head. I’ve been told no less than three times this weekend that I’ve got a financial obligation toward my Gs. I wish I could explain that I’ve offered to bring over dinner, that I do offer consistently. I provide my G with a magazine subscription, something that I know he really appreciates. That’s a lot of money for me, and it’s something I do out of love. If I had more money, I’d be more than happy to buy groceries, to treat them to things, but the fact is, I don’t. I could start mailing some small amount every month, if they’d like. It wouldn’t be much, but maybe it would help.
But again, I’d like to reassert that I’m not asking for anything monetary or good-related. I don’t need crackers and chips or snacks or food or cash in an envelope. If that’s who they think I am, then they need to step back and reassess.
From more than one of the U or A’s, I’ve heard that someone or someone else doesn’t want to cook, or entertain, or this and that. I’m not asking to be fed (again, I don’t need a food hand-out). I’m just asking for some face time. I’m not asking for a five-course meal, or for treats, or for anything. I’m not asking for money for holidays, or my birthday.
I just want to see my family.
I want to feel like I matter to them as much as they matter to me.
But it’s clear that it doesn’t work that way.
Being rejected by people who should know you, people who you love, is really hard. And it’s tearing at me. At the very least, I’d like some closure on the subject. I’d like to be able to understand fully what I’ve done that is so reprehensible that they can’t be civil toward me. That’s all I’m asking for.
It’s one thirty now. I have four and a half hours until I leave work. Four and a half hours to decide if I should show up or not.
I’m a proud woman. I am proud of who I am, proud of what I do, proud of what I stand for. I live my life in the best way possible. I try to make sure that my actions have few ripples, and other than a few minor skirmishes with friends (no more than anyone else I know), I maintain a very balanced life. It’s full of love and loyalty, and people who genuinely care about me. I genuinely care about them as well.
I call a friend for advice:
“What are you maintaining, other than this idea of a family?…your mom’s side loves you. It’s not like vindictive and gross and vile as your dad’s side is being to you…It sounds like they can’t even pretend to be decent. Why do you keep trying to make amends? It just doesn’t sound right. If you do have this obligation toward your grandparents, then they’d better start treating you right.”
That friend is right.
I try to explain that I guess I want to stay in it for my Gs and cousins, but at the same time, I wonder if their minds have been poisoned against me as well.
This is where I’m sure that the root cause of all of this must be bigger than me. I honestly can’t believe that I could have done something so egregious as to be excommunicated from my own family.
I really hate to stir up trouble in an otherwise happy family.
So perhaps it’s time for me to back down and back away.
Family. What does that word mean to you?