I had a really annoying conversation with C this morning that has stuck with me as the day has gone on. It reiterated once more to me that while K and I have the respsonsibility of taking care of these two girls and put up with all of their crap, at the same time trying to give our boys the life we wanted for them, nobody in our family really sees us as full parents to the girls.
I get this. Sorta.
Backstory is required on this one. So, last week E got her SAT scores back and they are really good (2230 good). This with her grades, extracurriculars and overall story, opens doors to lots of choices for her for college. Pretty much anywhere she wants to go. She is still talking about the Naval Academy, but we don't want her to go there and since she is way behind on the application process, I don't really think she wants to go there, but has this glossed over image of what being in the Navy will be like. Her dad was a Navy pilot briefly and I suspect she thinks this will honor his memory in some way. If she eventually wants to join the Navy, we can't stop her, but I don't think she has the emotional maturity at this time to make a career decision. There are tons of other reasons why I don't want her to go to Navy, but that's the biggie.
C and I were discussing this and as the conversation turned to some of the other schools she's looking at (Northwestern, Princeton, Bucknell, William and Mary) I made the big mistake of mentioning the cost of some of these out-of-state schools and whether or not $62K per year is worth it, when she can go to W&M (in-state school) and get a great education AND swim there (which is what she wants to do). I also don't think E really wants to be too far from home. Too far away from her family (her immediate family, her sisters, or the rest of the gang). Her issues with attachment make this especially true.
The line then got crossed over. C told me that SHE didn't think E would be enjoy William and Mary despite how much we loved it. I mentioned that some of the Ivy League schools are really expensive and while we're looking into all the financial aid stuff, she also wouldn't be able to swim there. She said, "Peggy you need to get over this William and Mary thing. I really don't think she'll do well there. I want a fresh start for her and going to the same place we went doesn't do that."
She went on to lecture me how Jeanne and Mike had the plan for swimming to pay her way through school, but since money isn't an option any more she should go to the best academic school which will set her up for life (i.e., the Harvards, etc.). I said that E wants to swim in college. She wants the whole package, academics and swimming, which W&M and Bucknell will give her. I also explained that K is looking in to all of the finance aspect of this to make sure she has all of these options (scholarships, financial aid, etc.) and we would never keep her from going where she wants, but at this point we're still in the preliminary stages. There are still tons of schools out there we need to investigate.
It wasn't really what she said that bothered me, but the tone of her voice. Her attitude that she could "tell" me what I "had" to do without the pretense of friendly advice or "in my opinion" tones. I know she loves E and wants what is best for her, but she crossed the line and I actually think she knows it. I was talking to her about E and college choices as a way to share and vent a little. She certainly wouldn't talk to me in that manner if it was one of the boys. What was hard too, was that she also made statements like "it's her decision not yours and when she turns 18 you have no more say." Of course it's E's decision, but as her parents now we want to help her make the right decision and just because we adopted her later in her childhood doesn't mean that we don't get a say or that we don't care like we would with the other kids. Moreover, we don't stop being her parents when she turns 18. We don't stop being her family.
The underlying feeling from the conversation was that in her eyes we aren't E's parents. It struck me as funny since she complains all the time that CA is just acting as a caregiver for the little girls, but at the same time in her heart merely sees K and I as caregivers for the big girls. I know there are confusing feelings since they tried to parent them and gave up. They chose not to parent these kids. I don't want to discount her feelings. I wanted to scream into the phone, however, "keep those feelings to yourself! This isn't helping me!!" At the end, I felt that C's aunt relationship E trumps our sister relationship. I know it's more complicated than that, but in the aftermath of a pretty uncomfortable conversation, that's how I feel.
I'll stay on my side of the line and won't call her out on it. I'll contiue to do the best I can for all of our kids. C definitely has some stuff to sort out with regards to the girls and the accident. I wish it didn't have to sometimes be at my emotional expense.