Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I’ve been MIA for a while. Sometimes you just get tired, sometimes you lose the muse, sometimes there’s no time, and sometimes there’s no interest.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to blogging lately — it seems like such a chore sometimes, like I’m obligated which, of course, is just plain silly.
I’ve decided that I’m going to try to catch up on The Chronicles of Yawnia this year. It’s important, I think, for me to get deeper into that because of some things that I’m getting into with the Speakers Bureau training I’ve been taking. I think it’s also cathartic for me as well. I thought it also might be fun to recap prior years each month (maybe the first post of the month or something). I think, sometimes, it’s fun to go back and read some of those old blog entries — at least, it is for me.
Dysfunction has been a large factor in my life — familial, personal, professional and social. However destructive it may or may not be, it’s always a relief when it is reinforced to me that I’m not alone in trying to deal with dysfunction.
Case in point: Lisa’s paternal grandmother died yesterday morning. Lisa actually calls her step-father “Dad” and her biological father “the sperm donor.” Needless to say she doesn’t have much contact at all with her bio-father. Over the years she has had contact with her paternal aunts and grandmother, but the relationships weren’t what you would describe as close. When one of her aunts died last year, it was sort of kept close to the chest for some reason — like it was some sort of state secret. Only immediate family was allowed at the funeral. The same seems to be true for Lisa’s grandmother — family and friends can come to calling hours, and it seems the funeral is open, but again, limits on attendance (for family) at the actual internment.
Lisa found out about this from her own mother. I think her mother found out from Lisa’s brother — the only one of bio-father’s offspring the father bothered to notify — assuming, it seems, that it would be the brother’s responsibility to ensure his siblings were notified. I suppose that the argument could be made that, if Lisa and her sister made more effort to be in contact with their father, they might have gotten a notification from him as well. But that goes in two directions and, based on my experience, the larger onus is on the parent.
Lisa’s paternal situation is not unlike that between my ex and my son, unfortunately. Almost ten years ago, he and I got into a disagreement over child support and so he quit calling the house to talk to Joe. Prior to that, like clockwork, he called every Sunday at 10:30 to talk to the kids. His reasoning was that, when he called, he didn’t want to talk to me, so I told him that we had personalized ring features on our home phone and that, if he called Joe’s number, it would give us 3 short rings, signaling that it was for Joe — I never answered the kids’ calls. But that didn’t seem to satisfy him. Then I got Joe a cell phone and gave his father that number — he didn’t use it.
Once when Joe was 17 he told me, “The only reason I have any contact with Dad at all is because I have friends that don’t have that choice.” It was apparent who the adult in the relationship was. When Joe graduated high school, his father didn’t come. He sent Joe a check for $600, postdated, with a sheet of pocket-notebook paper (no bigger than a post-it) that said “Congratulations on your graduation. I’ve sent you $500 for your birthday and $100 for your graduation.” Joe observed that his father couldn’t even take the time (or inclination) for a card or a full-sized piece of paper. The following year, for Christmas, his father sent him a check for $250, postdated to January 1. When Joe cashed the check, it bounced. While he still continues to get birthday and Christmas cards from his father, that’s all the effort my ex has made toward being involved in his son’s life. He alienated his son by punishing him for whatever “slights” he thinks I may have committed against him.
And, in my own family, it doesn’t get any better. The last time I spoke with my own mother was 13 or 14 years ago. I’ll confess to having some self-esteem issues over this situation with my mother but, it is what it is. A long time ago I realized, and was assured by the fact that she loved me(us) in the only way she could — whatever that was. But deeper than that is her shame regarding the abuse that she heaped upon my brother and I, and that which she allowed to be heaped on us by our stepfather.
After all that happened to us last year, I found myself thinking a lot about her — wondering if a better parent would have been proud of all that I have achieved in my life. And so, I wrote her a letter back in October, sent copies of newspaper articles and anything else that I could spare. This was my “coming out” to her. Unsurprisingly, I heard nothing back. And, as we entered the holiday season, I once again accepted that my life, my mere existence, meant nothing to my own mother.
Just a day or two before Christmas, Lisa brought in the mail and, after sorting through it, said “I think you have a Christmas card from your mother.” Expecting her to hand me a Capital One credit card offer with an impish grin, I reached for the envelope and said “Yeah, sure.” She said “I’m serious!” My heart leaped into my throat and raced, pounding against my chest. The return address label had my mother’s name and address. Inside the card was a very brief note, indicating that time goes by pretty quickly down in Florida for “old ladies” like herself and that she had meant to reply to my letter earlier. She made a short reference to having followed our accomplishments via FoxNews (go figure). She finished off by saying that she doesn’t write letters to anyone but that she does email, and gave me her email address. I sat, stunned. Tears welled in my eyes, but I choked them back down, unable and unwilling to let myself hope for anything better than that short note. I remain insulated. Self-preservation.
I have always tried to be a good mother to my kids. I believe that it’s not what we DO for our kids, it’s what we BE for our kids and sometimes we have to show some “tough love” by not helping out — teaching them to stand on their own two feet and be self-reliant and strong. Sometimes I fail, but I never EVER close the door — on a rare occasion, one of the kids might slam their own door, but I always leave mine open. Isn’t that, after all, the most important thing a parent can do?