Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Definition of Family

The grandmother of my younger grand/daughter*, Chatty Cathy, posted a slideshow on Facebook titled "Chatty Cathy and her family".  (Well, something like that, but it used her real name.)  My first thought was, "Oh my goodness, which of my most-unflattering pictures did she share without my permission this time?"

Silly, silly me.

There were no pictures of me.  Or my husband.  Or our oldest grand/daughter.  There were just pictures of Chatty Cathy, her paternal grandmother, her biological father and her birth mother. No pictures of the people who are providing every last dime of her financial support, who nurture her and show her love every day, who comfort her when she's hurting, who help her with her homework and tuck her into bed at night.  No pictures of the woman who cleans up after her (endlessly) and provides her with healthy (and delicious, if I do say so myself) meals.  No pictures of the middle-aged man who works two jobs and juggles what's left of his hard-earned retirement funds to provide a home, clothes, food, medical care, and all the other exorbitant expenses that come with raising children.  No pictures of her big sister, who loves her as only a sister can, and who is probably her most-trusted confidant at this point in her life.  There were actually pictures that my husband and I had taken while on vacation with Chatty Cathy that had been cropped to remove all traces of us. The "family" slideshow consisted of pictures of the people who created her but only show up when they choose, and based on their lack of financial support, must assume that she forages for nuts and grains in the wild when she gets hungry, and wraps herself in fig leaves or animal skins when she gets cold.

I know I need to let it go.  I need to find a way to shed the anger and frustration.  Somehow I need to pull these raggedy old exhausted bones up and just get over it.  But today I'm too tired.  I've already done eight loads of laundry, cleaned more than a woman whose children are grown should ever have to clean, cooked a big meal, attempted to repair yet another piece of equipment in this aging house, tripped over a boatload of kids' shoes that should be in the cubbies that take up way too much of the hallway that leads to the laundry room, and fought (to no avail) to get the girls to do chores.  And I've been cursed out by a teenage malcontent.

Sounds like family life to me.

*Grand/daughter:  A biological granddaughter who is being raised by her grandparents as if she was their own daughter.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

No Escape

I am so....tired.

I cook.  I clean.  I do laundry.  I pick up stuff after able-bodied people who could pick up after themselves...but won't.  I cook healthy food that nobody will eat, even after I "baby it down" for them, because that just doesn't happen to be what they want at the moment.  I turn clothes right-side-out before washing them because it's too much of a bother for those who wore them to do so even though it would make my ten loads of laundry a little easier to do.

I tried to train the grandchildren to do the right thing by using discipline.   You're late for school because you wouldn't get out of bed?---You don't go anywhere fun that week.  You smart off to your grandparents---You're grounded from the phone and internet for a few days.  It all seemed logical to me.

But I don't live in a vacuum.  I share parenting responsibilities with someone who doesn't often see eye-to-eye with me.  We've had screaming matches about it.  Many, many screaming matches.  I'm ready to be hardcore and he's not.

It isn't as simple as parents who disagree.  It's about stressed-out middle-aged people who should be enjoying life and each other's company instead of dealing with day-in and day-out child rearing and the sacrifices that go along with it.  It's about having been through the parenting trials and tribulations once and coming out on the other side with a sense of failure and exhaustion and not wanting to re-live the hell from the previous few decades, but not 100% sure how to avoid it.

This evening I had a fight with my husband because I need someone to support me, listen to me, let me vent, and maybe---just maybe---offer an encouraging word.  He just can't be that guy.  It isn't how he thinks.  If he can't fix it he just wants to walk away.  And I'm not looking for answers (there aren't any), just a shoulder to cry on.  It's hard to cry on a shoulder that's already retreating into another room.

I won't even go into the childhood I had.  Suffice it to say it didn't give me mad coping skills.  Just a desire to make a better life for myself down the road.  Which I thought I had...until someone else's choices stole all mine away.

I just had a sixteen year old tell me "Screw you!" because she couldn't have a grilled cheese sandwich instead of the dinner I spent two hours preparing in between washing her inside-out clothes.  Yeah, I gave up my life to raise you.  You're welcome.

I'm ready to move on.