Yes. You read that correctly. I wrote “I Hate Being Right”. Well, ok. I exaggerated a little. I hate always being right about people. Since I was a kid, I have possessed the ability to read someone accurately within ten minutes. I have never been wrong, either. Well, I have gone against my gut and tried to see the good in someone only to learn that I should have followed my instincts from that first tingly meeting. Unfortunately, family is not exempt from my ability, although being wrong where they are concerned is a lot more painful.
If you have read my “Vicious Cycle” post, you know that I didn’t grow up having a rose colored childhood. My shades were definitely more of the black and blue variety. Shortly after my father died, my mother took me to see Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. She told me that if I made a wish when I entered a new church, it would come true. Since I was still drinking the holy water catholic cool aid back then, I stupidly wished for my father to come back to life. Naturally, that didn’t happen so I started wishing for something a little more possible. I wished for a family.
A REAL family. The kind you would see on tv in a 30 minute show. Sure they’d have problems but nothing that couldn’t be fixed at the end of the program and all was well again. Everyone loved each other and there was always a happy ending, right? Yeah. Not real.
My mother severed all ties with my father’s family after he died. Then she reunited with her long lost family- a bunch of narrow minded, right winged, racists. I did NOT fit in there at all. In addition to being an only child, I was the only cousin in my age range. I was too young to sit with the cool teenaged kids and too old to be one of the adorable, doted on toddlers. It’s not fun to feel like an outcast in your own family but over the years I tried ( despite my radically different opinions) to fit in. I bit my tongue a lot and stayed quiet as a church mouse at most get togethers. As I got older and graduated college, I became more accepted by the older cousins because I loved to travel and participate in adventurous things. I gained a little of their respect and tried again to form a bond. My cousin Mark took that as an invitation to stick his tongue down my throat one Christmas Eve Needless to say, ties were severed.
The day I married my husband was unquestionably the happiest day of my life. I was happy for so many reasons but one of the biggest was I felt like I was finally getting the family I had so desperately wanted. My husband had an older brother and an older sister and I was so excited to accept them as my own siblings. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out quite the way I had hoped. My new parents in law were the loveliest people. They never once made me feel unwelcome in their home. I have always felt close to them since even before my husband and I married.
Unfortunately, that closeness didn’t carry over to the rest of his family. My brother in law and I have a lot of similarities. I get him. He’s different, quirky, and likes to push buttons as well as envelopes. He is brilliant and funny and unpredictable. When he is “on” , there is nobody I enjoy being around more than my brother in law. And now, his new wife.
My sister in law however, has been a constant enigma to me. When I was pregnant with my first child, she threw my baby shower. I named her as my daughter’s godmother. I thought of her as one of my closest friends. I was overjoyed with the thought of finally having the sister I had always wanted.
When she found a boyfriend however, all of that perceived closeness instantly evaporated. She disappeared from our lives. I was left sad and frustrated. Where was this person who came over and visited weekly? Where did my daughter’s aunt run off to? I tried calling her to talk about it, I even cried to her about it (hello? I don’t cry, people. Not in front of anyone, ever). While the relationship never really got back on track, it waxed and waned and I accepted it for what it was, friendly but distant. It was ok. Until she ended her nearly ten year long relationship. Then she was over at my house weekly again, offering to watch the kids, hang out, even stopping over on weekends to take them to breakfast. The kids LOVED it. They soaked it up like little sponges.
(can you see where I’m headed with this? Because I called it three months ago).
Now she has a new boyfriend. And she has once again disappeared. I’m fine with it frankly because I know the drill. This ain’t my first rodeo with this woman. However, this afternoon my son asked me a question that I found myself too raw to answer.
My innocent little boy asked, “Doesn’t Aunt J. love us anymore? She never comes around to see us.”.
How do you answer that? I hate lying so I answered as truthfully and protectively as I could. “Of course she loves you, she is just busy right now.”. Then I went into distract him mode and put on a video game as fast as I could.
I should NOT have had to answer that question. It never should have had to been asked as far as I’m concerned.
Long ago I gave up ever having the ideal version of a loving extended family. I will never have that. After my mother died, I cut ties with her family. I felt no need to pretend anymore and I surely didn’t want to subject my children to some of their bigoted ideas. Now that my child has autism, I’m even more thankful they aren’t around. I can only imagine the comments I would have had to deal with.
A parent always wants more for their children than they had. I gave my kids even less family than I had when i was a child. It breaks my heart that my little boy, who is thankfully oblivious to most things, feels like someone he adores no longer loves him. My daughter says nothing, though I’m certain she shares some of her brother’s thoughts about this.
As their mom? My gloves are off. I’m done playing nice. You hurt my child and you have made a grave error in judgement. I’m done giving out second chances. You don’t get to pop in and out of my children’s lives on a whim. You’re in or you’re out.
You know who you are.
It’s time to make a choice.
I suggest you make the right one.