Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Names, Herps and Funerals

We've hit a tough spot with the girls in their grief.  This one is completely out of my hands and it's actually a feeling we can share.

Last weekend KM (not my sister CA) asked to talk to me about something with MG's therapy.  She was weird about it and didn't want to talk to me in person.  Turns out that when the girls were together (without adults around) over spring break, E and M talked to KT and MG about how CA and KM are not their mommy.  This all came up because the big sisters discovered that their little sisters refer to their parents as Jeanne and Mr. Mike. 

Neither of the little girls call my sister or KM mommy.  In fact, KT doesn't even include "aunt" in front of their names, which is my opinion is disrespectful.  But KM and CA (and I guess MG's therapist), think that the word "mom" is confusing for the little girls.

As KM recounted this to me, it was apparent that it wasn't something that bothered the little girls but that it upset CA and KM.  It's like they are erasing Jeanne and Mike for the little girls.  It makes me sick to my stomach.  I have no problem with others referring to them as their "moms."  I get that all the times with E and M.  But to chastise the big girls for wanting to acknowledge their mom and dad and the connection the sisters have with each other is awful. I understand that the girls are each in different places developmentally, but how can it be healthy to have their parents disappear from their lives completely?

Jeanne and Mike are their mommy and daddy.  That is fact.  Mr. Mike?  Really?  How is it good for any of the kids to not accept the reality?  In a way it's stealing away the little girls' story from them.  I can't imagine any therapist would agree that not talking about or even using the names mommy and daddy can be good for their long term mental health.  CA and KM are so insecure in their role as parents with KT and MG.  In the discussion with KM, I was also patronized and given ridiculous lectures on child development despite the fact that I have been raising three children and HAVE A SIX YEAR OLD!!  Not once in this discussion did they show any empathy or concern for E and M and their feelings.  As K pointed out last night as we talked about it, CA and KM makes things so much harder on themselves when they wrap themselves in their lies.

Turns out that it's really been bothering the big girls and they brought it up with me last night.  The discussion also brought out all kinds of insecurities with M who admitted that she still worries that we'll send her away.  It was really sad and a hard discussion.  I had to make sure I didn't throw CA under the bus, but show the girls I understand how they feel.

We talked about writing a book (sister C's idea) with pictures for the little sisters to help tell their family story and show their entire family including aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and grandparents who all love and adore them.  I tried to show that we should try to deal with this in a positive way rather than attack CA and KM.

As we prove every day in this house, family is about love not names or labels like "aunt," "uncle," or "cousin." 


For A's 13th birthday, I made "Herping with A****" shirts to support his YouTube channel on herpetology.  I made shirts for the entire family.  It was so funny and the kind of spontaneous, goofy sort of thing the old Peg loved to do.  He was so cute when he first saw them, saying, "Mom, I've got a brand!"

Me and the birthday boy sporting our shirts.

The whole family.

E, my mom and dad.

M and her beautiful smile.

We love Herping with A****!!

If you can see it, the picture on the shirt is a photo A took of a timber rattlesnake last summer.  It was so much fun celebrating my smart, quirky little boy turn into a teenager.


My grandfather's funeral is on May 29th.  He died on April 17th.

It makes me so sad.  My cousins couldn't fit it in their schedule and my dad bowed to their wishes.

D is going to do a reading.  Sister C is doing a eulogy. 

We've talked a lot about death these past days and weeks.  More than usual, which says a lot.  There's nothing like having the tough conversations to make you realize how challenging parenting can be. 

I've realized though that it's these difficult conversations that help you earn those parenting badges that you can be proud of...although I have to say I really love those shirts.


  1. I think a family book is a lovely idea.

    Sorry again about your grandfather.

  2. I love the idea of a family book. Our albums are the things that bring Margaret the most comfort, reminding her that yes, that old life did really exist. I'm sorry about your grandpa. ps. I thought your post was going to be about HERPES.

  3. First off, I LOVE the idea of a book--brilliant! It'll be good for M and E to sit and write it out (rather therapeutic) and to have all the photos will be wonderful.

    My gut instinct was a swift "NO!" when I read about the way Jeanne and Mike are being referred to to the little girls. NO. NO NO NO NO NO. The thing that kept me going--and keeps me going some days--is for people to talk about Hannah, to say her name, to let me know she is real and was here. I'm sure M and E are like that, and like having that connection with their sisters with whom they have been separated. This was yet another connection for them.

    I'm all sorts of lost and confused about what sort of family relationship the little girls have with CA and KM and how in the world they can feel secure without a "mommy" or "daddy" even if they're no longer with them. My brain refuses to process it and is struggling this early in the morning and on only one cup of coffee...

    What a fun/cool thing you did for your guy! He's a pretty neat kiddo and you're a pretty neat mom! :o) Happy birthday to A!

    I'm so sorry about your grandfather.

    P.S. Only 20 minutes from your home, huh? :oP

  4. There are websites where you can upload pictures and design them into a book, with or without stories. I think one is snapfish? Anyway its fairly inexpensive (around $20 if i remember correctly) and they print it out into a real hardcover book. I started one as a wedding album, but never finished

    1. Thanks for the great idea Amanda! I actually found a website called blurb that seems like a great option. Now just to find the time to get it done. Thanks for all of your sweet comments. They've meant so much.

  5. I've been thinking about this and just how sad and hard it is for the big girls to be separated from their little sisters.

    A couple things that may comfort them:

    1. It won't be like this forever. As they get older, they'll be able to drive themselves to see their sisters. As their sisters get older, it will be easier for the littles to come and spend the night with the bigs. And then, when they are REALLY OLD (like everyone over 18) they can all live together if they want to !

    2. Generally speaking, I am one who believes that there is a HUGE spectrum of acceptable parenting behaviors and just because someone else does things differently than me, it doesn't mean that it's bad (like the whole Catholic school vs. public school thing). In your case, it's more complicated because your sister and her partner aren't raising the girls the way Mike and Jeanne would have. BUT - that's also not a possibility because Mike and Jeanne didn't have things set up in a way that would have allowed the girls to stay together. All that being said, I gotta say, your sister and her partner definitely do things that seem a little funky.

    Perhaps it would help to emphasize the realities and the positives to E and M. "Yes, CA and KM do things differently, and we feel funny about that, but it's not WRONG - it's just different." So, you aren't discounting their feelings but also reassuring them that their sisters are being taken care of.

    And also,
    I can't even begin to imagine how confusing things must be for the little girls. Its so sad.

    And I love the shirts, too ! What a great idea.

    1. The "not forever" thought is exactly what keeps my sister C and I going. I just hope damage isn't done that can't be reversed. The whole situation is just sad and I have a hard time shaking my guilt.