Friday, March 30, 2012

I Blew It

Those were the words I texted to C and repeated over and over again to K last night.

Last year, CA decided that she and KM were going to take the little girls to their cabin for Easter and not spend it with our family.  It was very upsetting.  For all of us and especially for E and M.  They didn't understand why they weren't going to be with their sisters on such a special holiday.  I confronted CA and the compromise was a last minute "party" at my house on Good Friday with egg coloring and a hunt.  It sucked.

Last week CA texted me that they were once again not going to be here for Easter and would I do the same thing on Good Friday as they head out to the cabin.  I didn't respond.  I was too angry.  My first reaction was that she could explain to E why they aren't spending this holiday together again.  So I waited until I felt better about being calmer.  I talked long and hard about it with C about the best way to approach her.  We came up with the solution that if they (CA and KM) didnt' want to spend Easter with the family then how about leave the little girls with me for the weekend and then I'd bring everyone to the cabin on Monday.

She texted me last night, pushing me for an answer.  I called her directly (enough of the passive aggressive texts) and explained my reservations about the sisters not being together and my offer.  She sounded angry and said "fine we'll be at mom and dad's Easter Sunday and you guys get your way."

I should have just ended it there.  I totally blew it.

I said, "Why are you so mad? What is wrong with being with family on a holiday?"

The floodgates opened.  She escalated the conversation into "You don't trust us with them!" "You always judge us!" "You always get your way!" Angry, irrational, hurtful words followed.

Again, I should have ended it there.  I didn't.  I went right with her and brought up all the concerns I (we) have about the little girls.  All the practical, basic care issues we have.  Why she shuts all of us out.  I tried to understand why the four of them establishing themselves as a family means that they distance themselves from the rest of the family.

I should have ended it.  What I got back was awful.  According to CA, she doesn't ask for advice or share with me because she doesn't want to be a mom like me.  It's obvious that I put a priority on the boys and only care about them and treat the girls as second class citizens...and they (the girls) know it.  I should prioritize the girls' needs first because they lost their parents.  Oh, and the boys are rude and dirty.  What?  (for the record, my children are well groomed, kind and awesome kids).  My favorite was that she wants to take all four girls and run away to Australia...away from us terrible people who put our biological children first.

A simple Easter request spun up into a tirade about her perception of our family as people who fundamentally reject her.  Yes, I admit that I have been judgemental of her recently given the condition of the little girls when they've visited my house, things sad by CA and decisions they are making that run contrary to what Jeanne and Mike would want.  Sometimes I just can't turn my mommy radar off.  Casually addressing the issues got the same reaction as me being direct and advocating for the MG and KT.  At this point, I don't know how to talk to her.

She is so sensitive and clinging to 25 year old grievances.  When I talk to her like I would talk to my other sisters, about the kids or life, I get either a lecture (she is a teacher) or lies and defensiveness. It is also really difficult to hear her talk about how the girls were forced on them and they were given no choice.  I guess there is some truth in that, but its hard to hear. What I do know is that I am done being the spokesperson for the rest of the family about issues with the little girls.  I am tired of always being the bad guy.  I am once again drained and don't have the energy both emotionally and physically.

I also know that I need to salvage this relationship and keep trying to make things better for the girls.  They deserve it.  Moreover, all of the kids need to see positive adult relationships and not feel further instability as a result of the accident (there I go again thinking of my own children).

If I really think hard and am honest with myself, it all comes down to the fact that I really don't want CA and KM with the little girls.  This has nothing to do with them as a gay couple, but everything about how they have handled the situation and their decisions.  This has obviously not been a natural transition for them and I just don't feel right about it.  I don't think we really thought through the decision or weren't emotionally able to make one.  This gut feeling is probably why I focus on lots of superficial issues (clothing, being clean, their house, and school).  The fact that the girls are loved and happy should be enough.

I wish I were a better person.  I certainly am not pleased with myself about how I handled the situation with CA.  Thank goodness for blogging, therapy and patient friends.   Somehow I need to find the fortitude to be a better sister, aunt, wife and mom. As with most things, recognizing it is at least a step in the right direction.


  1. Lurker here....I come from a family of all girls, too. That alone has a ton of implications. I can't imagine what you are going through. You were thrust into an incredible situation. As the sister who took on a lot of the responsibility (though NOTHING like what you did with the children), I will say, just drawing lines and figuring out boundaries is critical. I know you are not comfortable with CA and the little girls. At some point, you either need to let go or change it. Not sure changing it is an option at this point, so then you have to act as though the little girls are CA's girls. Again, I can't imagine your stress, but one of my sisters doesn't raise her own children how I would raise mine. Every birthday party, etc., I cringe and the dirty clothes, hair, shoes....but the kids are loved.

    I do know, from reading your blog...the little girls may have advantages of being with you. But unless you quickly make a move to make that happen, you need to sit back and let CA do it her way. Again, I know your love for Jeanne probably makes that hard, but life is short and you need to let go or bring them into your family. I do know from personal experience -- Guilt helps nobody. Hang in there and I hope it all turns out well for you. I cannot imagine....


  2. I'm so sorry that once again, you're being brought back down from a relatively happy place to reliving the trauma of it all once again. It really is a process, isn't it?

    I think Anonymous above makes a good point about trying to accept the reality of CA and KM as the little girls' parents at this point. They may not do things the way that Jeanne and Mike would have wanted, but the fact is that they probably are not capable of making their lives be a living shrine to Jeanne and Mike's wishes, and also probably don't want to. Like you, they have to consider the needs and abilities of their whole family, and not just the girls, when making their decisions(adults are part of a family too).

    I'm especially sorry that your probing resulted in all of that painful blowback. Obviously there are many hurt feelings all around. For what it's worth, I think you have made a really good decision about not being the spokesperson for the rest of the family about the little girls. That was never a fair role for the family to put you in. You have a lot on your plate already, and will probably be happier if you can turn your focus inward a bit more (by which I mean, focus on the things that you can change, not the things that you can't).

    Sorry if this all comes off as annoying assvice. I'm just sitting here wringing my hands wishing that there was something that I could do to actually help, but all I have to offer are thoughts, which may not actually be helpful.

    I wish you all the best, and admire your thoughtful approach in dealing with all of this.

  3. Hi Peg, I recently found your blog and read through from the very beginning. have been through so much. It's obvious that you love your kids, your nieces, your husband, your sisters and that you're trying to make something good out of a horrible situation. My sister died of cancer four years ago so I feel like I can relate to some of what you struggle with. I still miss her every single day. Sometimes several times a day. But I am finally to the point where good memories of her are more easy to access, they come more readily now. Until recently I was stuck on the last 18 months of her life...struggle, pain, despair. It is a relief to remember her as she was, I was afraid I had lost that. I share this to offer you hope that there will come a time when your memories of Jeanne will not be totally accident focused. My sister also left children behind. I will not go into details but her husband, their dad, made choices and did things that I knew my sister would not approve of. It was so difficult to watch. I had made promises to her about her kids, things that would be done, and I couldn't keep those promises. The guilt was tremendous. I've made peace with that somehow. I think it was just the passing of time and accepting the reality of the situation. I have no advice to give to you but just the hope that things can and will get better. I'm sorry another Easter will be stressful and not how you wish it could be. Holidays are still really hard for all of us. I sincerely hope you can enjoy the day and spending time with those that choose to be there. Take care.

  4. I also just found your blog. As much as you feel guilty at times about the burden on your boys and husband, another way to think about it is this -- if God forbid something similar happened when your boys are adults, you would want them to take in and care for family members. You're living the right values and that makes a deep and powerful impact. Even though the day-to-day of lives with their girl cousins is (often) hard, you're showing them every single day what a life focused on real family values is about. I think your boys will grow up compassionate and strong and people who will want to make a difference in the world. I hope your husband can come to see that (maybe with couples therapy? not that you have time. . .).

    Reading your story, I imagine that if you were a Catholic family living in Europe during World War II, you would have been the ones to help save neighbors from the Nazis.

    You're doing the right thing AND you're human and lose your temper, etc. I hope you can continue to find time for the things that fill your cup (like soccer).


  5. Lots of good thoughts here. I'm not sure that you really did "blow it, but let's just say you did. Okay, fine, you made a mistake. What's next ? Tomorrow is another day and tomorrow you can respond to your sister with more calm (even if it is through gritted teeth). Tell her "thank you" for changing her plans and then kill her with kindness.

    You did a really, really good thing by picking up the phone and talking with her. Passive-aggressive texting or e-mailing is awful.

    Some ass-vice ? Try not to be the spokesperson for the family. That could be creating some of the defensiveness with her. Instead, just speak for yourself and your concerns. I know that I instantly raise my hackles when anyone approaches me as a spokesperson.

    Most of all, be kinder and gentler with yourself. You don't need to wish to be a better person. You are doing the best you can.

  6. There's lots of good thoughts here, Peg. I'm just sorry it all went down as it did. There is nothing worse than conflict with family.

    My Aunt Susan (Mom's older sister) is the family member who has been so ill. She passed away this morning and it's so easy to see in these moments what is and isn't important. Loved children are important. Having family and being together is important. You are doing so much of the important, and I know this job is very hard for you.

    Please know I continue to pray for you.

  7. Making a mistake simply means you're human. I think you're all in such difficult positions. While the girls will always be sisters, things are so very different than they were before. And you can't change that. It seems your sister is trying to create "her" family. And I don't think that's something bad. While she obviously isn't going about it in the way you are, I'd hazard a guess that she's also managing the best she knows how right now. Heaven knows you certainly are. Thrift Store Mama is right, be gentle with yourself.