Ahhh…this is one post I’m not happy about having to write. The fact that I have to sit down and contemplate putting into words what I’m about to do is a line I never considered having to cross.
This, the morning of the day of my birth–now 63 years ago. More prophetic than I’d like to admit, as it has to do with another birth…that of my oldest daughter, I’ll call her S. Those who know me, are family and close friends, know her true name, but I don’t wish to embarrass her by using her full name to those who don’t know her.
Just over two years ago, on Mothers Day, no less…I received a letter from S. From the very beginning I was aware of a problem. She addressed me as “Sherrie” and not as “Mom.” She informed me right off the bat that she was disowning me.
Let that sink in…my oldest daughter was telling me that she no. longer. considered. me. her. Mother!
This came completely out of left field. I’d just moved back to my home town of Portland, Oregon the month before. I took care of my ex Mother in Law…she lived with me and I was her guardian, conservator and fiduciary. As proscribed by the courts in Klamath Falls, Oregon where we lived prior to our move.
The letter rambled, jumping from odd topic to another odd topic. I got the feeling that she wanted to write so much more, but got tired or just felt no need to further explain her reasons and threw in a few highlights.
1–She accused me of acting like a Princess because, as a child growing up, my Dad had occasionally called me that. No biggie, but evidently S saw it as something necessary to point out. For some reason, it appears to have angered her. I must have at some point mentioned it to her as she was growing up, or maybe it was after my own father passed away…in writing on his Mem.com obituary I signed off as “Your Princess.”
2–She told me that I would never be left alone with her son, my grandson. S’s brother-in-law spent 10 years in prison for sexually abusing his step daughter from the age of 4 to 8 and S inferred that I was in the same category as he because she could not trust me with my grandson, J! There was a claim that I talked disparagingly about S’s husband.
3–She said that she felt since I favored her two younger sisters that I wouldn’t miss her, as I had two spares.
4–The final condemnation had to do with my ex Mother in Law, S’s grandmother. She was angry that I was her grandmother’s guardian, as her Dad had wanted her to be the guardian, not me. Or, as she called it, her grandmother’s “caretaker.”
Now, before I try to explain a bit more about the above, let me admit here for the whole world to see. I. Am. Not. Perfect.
I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes in life and fortunately, I’m the kind of person who not only admits to those mistakes, but tries to understand why and possibly even fix them. Not always able to, but I like to try.
Am I a good person? I’d like to think I am. Buuuuuttt…I’m only human and therefore there are times when I do the wrong thing. I yell, I cry, I condemn, I accuse, I fight, I try to get people to see my point…sometimes vociferously. I have absolutely no qualms about getting my nose up and into the middle of the fray and putting in my two cents (and usually much more).
I’m a Mama Bear who fights for her babies and many, many times that happens at a very high volume. Words are said and sometimes those words aren’t nice. But, as I stated before, once all involved calm down and start talking as adults instead of school yard fighters, then clearer heads usually prevail. If I feel I’m wrong, I’ll admit it and apologize. Whether the other side can do the same…well, that’s on them.
So, in regards to what S wrote in her letter…a few notes, clarifications, then I’m done.
1–Yes, my Dad called me Princess from time to time when I was a little girl. So what. I called S many adorable, cutesy, loving names all the time when she was growing up. I also reprimanded her, grounded her, took thing away from her…you know, I was a MOM! Her Dad was a DAD, he did the same things. So, get over it!
2–From the get go, with my grandson, I wanted to be able to take him for the day, overnight or whatever and do things that grandparents did. I never got that chance. On the one or two occasions when S deigned to leave him at the house, it was always when both her Dad and I were there. In her letter, she inferred that I said disparaging things to a little boy about his father. She states that after spending time with me, he came home making inquiries about why Daddy didn’t work. The clear implication being that I asked a 4 year old boy questions about his father!! Umm, NO! Somehow, she confused a conversation (okay, it was an argument) that she and I had had on more than a few occasions as to why her husband didn’t have a job. Why she put it off on her son, I have no idea. Unless she needed more justification for what she was doing, which actually makes more sense.
I never made any bones about S’s marriage…I was the prototypical “Mother in Law” who only wanted her daughter to be happy. Aside from the no job issue; they lived rent free in the converted garage behind his mother and father’s house. They gave this married man spending money, bought thousands of $$ worth of groceries, sundries, gifts, etc over the years. I did not raise my daughter to continually have her hand out for someone else to pay the bills and buy her things. I’m not saying she didn’t work, she did. He didn’t. She went to college, got her degree and actually moved into a gorgeous house on some land in the Roseburg area early in their marriage.
She told me that it was some of the happiest times of her young life, as they were away from and out from under her in-laws thumb. She was proud of herself for taking a stand and learning to make her own way in the world. He still didn’t work, but, she always told me that was the way they liked it…so, if she was okay with her husband sitting at home playing video games while she was bringing home the bacon, then so be it!!
I enjoyed going over to visit them from time to time…as with any mother/daughter relationship, we’d had our ups and downs over the years. Always managed to find our way back to each other. That’s the way of the world. I could see how happy she was and she reiterated to me on more than one occasion how glad she was to be away from his parents.
The job in Roseburg didn’t last. If I remember correctly, it was less than two years. On that, I could be wrong. She was let go and they had no choice but to move back to Klamath Falls and, once again, move back into the converted garage, where someone else was paying the majority of the bills and making you beholding to them.
I noticed the change once she was firmly ensconced back at the in-laws. It was truly heartbreaking to see just how easy it was for her to fall back into the “before” life. Always running out of money, always getting a hand out from her in-laws, never able to get ahead or just break even. When my husband and I were first married, we worked 4 jobs between the two of us. It’s called being an adult. S just found it too easy to go along to get along.
3–When S was 12, I had younger sister #1. When she was 14, I had younger sister #2. I was an older Mom who was approaching 40 and wanted to try for more natural children. S was not happy once they came along and we had some preteen and teen episodes. She felt I favored them and spent more time with them than with her, which was true. They were babies!! Babies require more, need more, so YES!! The funny thing about that, was that years before, when her Dad and I first married, his 3 daughters were 11 & 12 at the time and THEY felt the exact same way about S, as an 11 month old, that she felt 12 years later about her own younger sisters!!
When her Dad and I separated in 2004, the two younger girls were 12 and 10. We moved into a very tiny 2 bedroom apartment and I worked 3 different jobs to make ends meet. I worked at a bank; I had a part time gift shop and I was a vendor for a greeting card company working part time at 3 different stores in the area. The girls went everywhere with me!! We became very close, as a matter of course and I make absolutely NO apologies for that. Different time, different circumstances. As a result, I’m still very close to them and we continue to do as much as a trio as we possibly can. Get over it!!
4–Last, but certainly not least, her grandmother, who I’ve been taking care of full time since 2011. Prior to that, she and her husband moved in with us in 2006 after selling their home in Riverside California. They were quite happy living with us; he still drove, so they’d take rides around the area, stop for a corn dog and coffee at a little cafe, go into town for dinner. Got set up with new doctors, the local hospital, etc. They were very comfy.
After the ex and I were no more and he’d moved 100 miles away, they stayed with me, as there was no reason to move anywhere else. I was with my Father in Law the night he passed away in 2011. I sat with him, talking or sharing little memories.
He asked me to take care of his wife. My ex Mother in Law.
I said I would. That was it.
Lawyers were called in, papers were written up, the courts were involved and when all was said and done, I became her Guardian and Conservator. As she received a small stipend from the VA for his military service, they contacted me and I also became her Fiduciary for them. I was given a nominal amount for her monthly care; she always had plenty to spend on whatever she wanted. We went shopping. We took trips (twice to Kansas to see her invalid daughter) and twice to visit her dear friend of over 75 years in Seattle.
She sent $$ to her three surviving children as Christmas and birthday gifts. She loaned $$ to some of those children. She sent other gifts. She loaned S a sizable amount of $$ to pay off credit cards and medical bills. None of that actually was used for that, but nevermind. Handling money was never one of S’s strong suits.
The lawyers got their fair share, but when all was said and done, my MIL is still very comfortable and it’s because I manage her day to day life, her money, her medicine, her health, her food and everything else all for her benefit. Would I have asked for this to be what my life was at this point in time? Probably not. I just kind of fell into it. And I do the best damn job with it that I possibly can. If S, in her infinite wisdom felt that she would or could have done a better job, then I call bull. In the first place, there really is no place in their over crowded, tiny garage home for even the three of them, let alone an elderly woman.
This woman requires constant care, 24/7/365. She cannot climb stairs, she uses a walker or at times a wheelchair, she has difficulty just walking a good part of the time. She cannot cook her own food, or clean up her dishes. She cannot take a shower or a bath by herself. Basic toileting and other ablutions are usually not within her day to day realm.
So, for her to claim that one of the reasons for her to disown me is because I became her grandmother’s guardian is pretty much bunk.
I have tried my hardest to get over the feelings of betrayal and anger and sorrow at what my oldest has done. In speaking to anyone, if the subject comes up, the tears inevitably start to fall. I cannot stop them. For the longest time, I questioned. I wondered. What did I really do that brought her to that moment in time to write down those spurious comments? There’s got to be something else behind it.
Any reasoning aside, I cannot continue to let my sorrow continue to erupt at the mere mention of her name. Or my grandson. I’ve sent him letters and birthday cards over the last two+ years—I do not know if she lets him have them or even lets him know I sent them. I’ve called her twice; once because her grandmother wanted to talk to her and once just the other day to ask about the birthday card. On that call, I couldn’t stop myself from sobbing and it was very clear to anyone who might have listened to the message, since I never actually talked to her–she does not answer her phone when I call.
I’m pretty sure her social commentary isn’t at all flattering to me, and for that reason also, I cannot continue thinking of her as my daughter.
There…I said it. As much as it pains me, as much as I’m loath to put this in print…I must. When every mention, every picture, every blog from my friends and family shows all their beautiful, wonderful, extended family of children, grand children and great grand children, the one I wish the most to have a relationship with is lost to me. I can’t keep breaking down, I can’t keep feeling sorry for myself, I can’t keep expecting her to come to her senses, I can’t keep feeling there’s any chance for reconciliation.
She has her MIL, her aunt; who she’s always felt was more a mother to her than I ever was, and so many others whom she considers special. It appears that I am not a big loss to her, so with that…I also have to purge her from my life. If I don’t, then I will continue to be hurt when speaking of her. Crying, remembering…all of that has to stop and the only way it can is for me to sever the remaining ties that she started severing a few years ago.
That is my decision.
I must get on with my life.
On my 63rd birthday, I’ve ceased having 3 natural daughters, I only have two. Lest I forget, I do still have 2 step daughters who I’m very fortunate to have an ongoing, solid relationship with. There’s some solace in that.