I feel like an orphan
It started slowly. Somehow the experience of my having children pushed us further apart instead of bringing us together. When I struggled for two years with infertility, you repeatedly told me it must be God's will for me not to have children. But when I got pregnant, you were ecstatic. And then came the sonogram that the baby would be a boy and some of the air went out of your enthusiasm. Still you ran out to buy one of everything to setup for the baby at your house, even though you lived two hours away and we’d never spent a night at your house in my entire married life. And you came when he was born, camping out at our house for two days while I was in the hospital. But you couldn’t respect my choices when they were different from yours. When I struggled with breastfeeding you urged me not to waste my time since you had fed me formula. When my husband decided to go back to school and stay home with our baby, you belittled our choice and his efforts. You destroyed your relationship with my mother-in-law, a woman you’ve called a friend for over twenty years, because anytime you ended up at an event together you had to hog the grandson and pretend he loved you best. You put on a huge phony act about being the world’s greatest grandma when others were around and when left alone, you observed your grandson playing from your chair, rather than deign to interact with him. You stopped calling to check in on me and when I would call to check in on you, our conversations were never more than five minutes before you were trying to get off the phone. It got worse three years later when I told you I was pregnant again. Why would I want to have a second child? You did fine with one. And then you grew hopeful that this baby would be a girl. You became convinced. I still remember the flat tone in your voice when I called to tell you that there would be a second grandson and how quickly you got off the phone. At least you showed up when he was born.
But things have gone seriously downhill from there. When I had gallbladder surgery just five months after baby #2 was born, the woman who drove out in the middle of the night to pick me up from college when I got sick, spent the day packing to go on vacation. Granted it wasn’t emergency surgery, but scheduled a couple weeks ahead. I’m sorry the surgeon couldn’t do it when it was convenient for you, especially since your mother-in-law’s unexpected death (my grandma) had screwed you out of your scheduled vacation the previous year. So my mother-in-law showed up and watched my children and then brought us all home to her house a mile away from yours so that she could help my husband take care of me and the boys while you and dad drove an hour away on vacation and shopped in outlet malls for a week. So please understand why it angered me when you showed up for my husband’s emergency appendectomy the next year - taking precious time off of work – and made the whole day about you and how you almost died years ago when your appendix ruptured. Just what I needed to hear as my beloved was under the knife.Thank God he ended up being fine.
We had managed some repairs to our relationship and you had eagerly expressed a desire (without being asked) to take a week off of work when hubby and I started planning our two week overseas adventure for our ten year anniversary. I was delighted; things were finally turning around with us. I planned our childcare carefully, with mother-in-law taking the other week off to balance things out. And then four weeks out, after we’d paid the last of our non-refundable monies for the trip, you casually mentioned in a conversation that you wouldn’t be able to get out of work after all. In fact you would be unable to help babysit at all because you hadn’t put in for the time off from work and other folks had taken those days. Friends, neighbors and other relatives stepped in to help mother-in-law balance her job and our kids for the entire two weeks. When you heard my son mention to someone months later that he had stayed with mother-in-law while we were gone you quickly corrected him that you had helped out. I’m sorry that at five he forgot how you borrowed them two afternoons and fed them dinner once.
Then there was the phone call a couple of months ago when your sister died unexpectedly and you told your whole family that I’d be glad to officiate the funeral on a certain date without asking me. Nevermind that you scheduled her funeral for my birthday, it was four days before I was moving with two kids and both hubby and I were changing jobs. And when I had the gall to say no, that date didn’t work for me and offered up three other dates as alternatives (since she was being cremated), you tried all kinds of guilt and manipulation and crying before hanging up on me. And bless you for having father call me back later and pretend he cared before laying on more guilt. And that line about how ungrateful I am and how I would have dropped everything and done a funeral for husband’s family if they needed something was just the icing on the cake. My aunt wanted me to officiate at her funeral and would never have approved of your tactics, and I’m angry that you went ahead and held it without me, telling my cousins that I was too busy to be bothered. I do appreciate that you at least called to acknowledge my birthday and I know I sent a thank you for the birthday check I received in the mail.
Two weeks ago I needed surgery again, a biopsy to check for breast cancer, the disease you successfully fought off nine years ago. I was scared because I've had a lump before and know that our family history of cancer only heightens my risk. But this time I was smart. I decided not to get my hopes up that you would be there. I knew that you were already taking the week prior off of work to entertain company for your birthday and catch up on errands and dr visits. So we made plans to have mother-in-law show up and care for the grandchildren. When you politely inquired the night before if we needed you, we told you not to worry that we had everything under control. Imagine our surprise when you showed up at the hospital as we were leaving because you had called mother-in-law’s cellphone and realized she was in town. Sorry father let the cat out of the bag later - apparently you had arranged to take the day off of work and told them that you were coming to take care of me; yet you had intended to spend the day at home relaxing from all the company you had entertained the week before. I certainly didn't mean to ruin your day off. Mother-in-law went home after you showed up because she didn’t want to intrude. Only she didn’t realize that you would take off before I actually needed you. You sat around all day and watched me sleep and then packed up to go home leaving me groggy and nauseated alone with two kids after hubby had to go in to work for two hours. Since my surgery I have heard from you exactly one time when I called to tell you my pathology report was clear and I am fine.
Most days I feel like an orphan. I have no parents unless you need to whine about your life, or need me to do something or want to drag out your grandchildren for some special occasion to show off to your friends. You always lamented the relationship you had with your mother - a constant tug of war - and swore that you would never treat me like that, that you would be different. And you were right. You have become very different. You hardly bother with me at all.