Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I constantly feel judged.  Judged by the girls about our house, my parenting, the boys, my cooking, etc.  Sometimes it feels like I'm living with Jeanne who was quite judgemental.  I feel judged by the outside world about whether or not we're doing right by the girls.

I feel particularly judged by my family.  It goes back to the days after the accident.  The night of the accident and the days that followed, K and I made the conscious decision to have at least one of us with the boys at all times if possible.  I told K to stay with the boys the night of the accident, because frankly what was he going to do at the hospital and I wanted the boys, who were distraught over the deaths of their aunt and uncle, to have the security of one parent.  It made the most sense that I spent more time at the house with the girls and K stay with the boys.  We brought the boys along when it made sense but for the most part we tried to give them a break from the tension, sadness and stress at my sister's house.  But, my family just didn't understand this and resented K for not being around.  None of them have said it flat out, but insinuations have abounded.  Financial decisions were made with my two younger brother-in-laws who have no experience doing financial planning for a family.  Decisions were made about the fate of the girls behind closed doors without any input from us. 

While we did as much as we could to be there and care for the girls (I practically lived there and was running myself ragged), we still had to focus on 3 little boys who were in distress.  D was wetting the bed, and having diarrhea accidents in his pants.  A refused to eat until I got home at night.  L was clinging to me and making me carry him around like he was a baby again.  None of them wanted to ride in cars.  They were frantic about M's well being.  Nobody cared about this.  Nobody understood how this terrible tragedy was affecting our children who were old enough to understand what was happening.  Of course the focus had to be on the girls and their horrible loss and physical and emotional injuries.  But nobody in my family could understand how torn I was in trying to be there for the girls, but also taking care of my first priority, my little boys.  K was the lynch pin in allowing me to be there to bring the girls to doctor appointments, make dinner, and schedule grief counselling.  But the resentment settled in and my sisters resented K for not always being around and for my need to, at some point, draw the line for how much time I could really give.

Then we had the first meeting with the social worker from Catholic Charities.  I can't even drive by their offices without having my heart drop into my stomach.  K and I walked into the first meeting with the understanding that no decision was made.  We walked into that conference room with open hearts to offer to take the girls, but with practical concerns about anyone taking all four girls.  The decision was already made.  My sister C and her husband DG were going to take the girls and move into their house with a new addition to accommodate the girls and their 3 children.  My parents stated out loud that they felt C and DG were a better choice.  My sister CA took the cake by saying she felt that C and DG were better disposed to do it and our family was too "boy oriented."  K voiced his reservations, with tears in his eyes and voice cracking, that nobody else in the room knew what it was like to take care of kids in school and sports.  The age distribution for us also made so much more sense given their kid's ages (3 year old twins and a 1 year old at the time).  We also had pretty strong feelings about E and M being with us.  We felt completely blindsided.  Plans were already being drawn up for the house.  C was made the girls' temporary guardian.  When the White House called for the girls to come and watch a movie with the first couple, it was decided C and DG would bring them.  I looked back and realized that the signs were all laid out.  I was so busy basically running two households I couldn't see what was obvious.  Further conversations with my sister CA, included outright attacks on my marriage, our children, and our apparent inadequacy.  It was awful.

But rather than fight the decision, we let it go.  We continued to help where we could.  We helped the girls move into C's house while the other house was supposed to be remodeled.  Starting on day 2, the inevitable occurred and I began my daily listening job as C and DG railed about how horrible the girls were, how impossible it was to take care of the 7 kids and how difficult it was to have to get so much help from the rest of the family.  We never said I told you so.  We waited and opened our door to E and M when they were repeatedly dropped on our doorstep when things got too crazy over at C's house.

They put out the white flag after about 1.5 months (even though the signs were there from the first week).  We again put out our offer to take E and M, now knowing that us taking all four kids wouldn't work either.  At one point, it was so bad KT moved in with sister S.  Once again, we trooped back into the conference room at Catholic Charities and this time we listened to condescending speeches from CA and her partner KM about how they were willing to take all four girls and move into the family home.  K and I had serious reservations about this, but again we wanted to keep the girls together and if this would work, why not?  We transitioned the girls for about 3 weeks before they moved back home.  E and M were absolutely distraught.  M almost threw up when she was told.  Once again, adults in their lives were leaving.  The CA and KM period lasted less than 48 hours.  She gave up and had a complete mental breakdown.  At this point, Dr. L stepped in and convinced us to stabilize the girls, get them the therapy they needed and let us all find some respite before making another decision.

Through the work with Dr. L, I stuck to my guns.  I stood up for E and M.  While I still hoped CA and S would step up to take the girls still, in order to keep our family intact, I was tired about listening to how hard the girls were and everyone talking about them so negatively.  Maybe it was naive, maybe I still regret our decision, but at the time I was prepared to take on the challenge and was happy to have the honor to care for E and M.

So, I've been struggling with this constant feeling of judgement.  Feeling like we're not good enough.  I had this revelation today about it.  A positive thing about all of this is that it's actually helped me be less judgemental about other people.  When S and C start being critical about how CA is taking care of the little girls, I try to stop myself from going down that path and simply say, "she's doing the best she can."  Being judgemental of others, is living in the negativity.  I don't want to be there.  I want to model better behaviour for the girls.  Maybe through all this pain, it's going to help me be a better person, and in turn, help me be a better mom. aunt, wife, sister, daughter and friend.


  1. So many people are quick to judge parents. I personally am judgmental about judgmental parents, so I'll have to live with the hypocrisy.

    It's painful when you know people you love aren't looking approvingly at every parenting decision you make, but it's a no win situation. It's the ultimate example of how you can't please everyone so it's not worth even trying. Make your decisions from a loving place, trust your mind and your gut, and try to block out the rest to stay sane.

  2. I tell you what, after losing Hannah, I can honestly say, I am nonjudgmental about most parenting I see these days. The truth is, we're all desperately trying to do the best we can. Are there a few out there I still find myself judging? Unfortunately, yes, and I feel guilty about it.

    That said, I live in fear of my mother's judgement of my parenting. Oh heck, I fear my in-laws' as well. I am doing the absolute best *I* can and want that to be recognized. I can certainly understand your upset over your family's judgments. You are living in a very difficult situation and I'm so sorry for that.

  3. I hope that you can try not to judge yourself for letting events take their course, rather than insisting on a more sensible solution and precipitating a major family feud at exactly the time that you all needed to be presenting a united front to the girls. You did the best that you could, as you continue to do every day. I'm sorry that your siblings and parents have been so unsupportive.