You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

One of these days, I will learn. I will stop being disappointed because I will stop having expectations. I will stop hoping for things to go as planned, for the “perfect” holiday afternoon. I will finally get it that life sucks and people suck and things won’t ever go as I hope and imagine they will.

Today was supposed to be a good day. I woke up without a headache, early and with a decent amount of energy. I was excited because Matt will be here tomorrow and Aubrey was supposed to get here around 12:30 to go shopping with Ron and then do holiday baking with me. Ron and I agreed that since we only see her once a week, we actually miss her now and look forward to her coming over.

It started out with great promise, too. Ron and I wrapped presents over coffee, and laughed about our childhood holiday traditions vs what we do at our house. His family never did huge stacks of gifts with stocking stuffers and tree presents. I don’t ever remember stockings when I was a kid, either. Stockings are a big deal at our house, though. Stuffers are wrapped and it’s how Santa lets everyone know which presents are theirs…the gifts under and on the tree are wrapped in the same paper as those in the stocking.

I’ve felt pretty grinchy this year, starting with the Starbucks cup brouhaha. Christmas has quickly become my second least favorite holiday, topped only by Mother’s Day. I’ve avoided carols like the plague, haven’t baked a single cookie, and have only been to one holiday party which, to be accurate, was the least holiday of parties I’ve ever attended. That’s not a bad thing.


So the fact that I felt in a holiday mood today was pretty miraculous. It was also extremely short lived. Aubrey didn’t show up at 12:30. She texted to say she was awake and going to shower. That was fine, since I was still working on the kitchen. But then it got to be 1:30. Then 2:30. And finally 3:30. I messaged her not to bother and that we’d see her on Friday for Christmas. Five minutes later, she waltzed in, sat down, and started petting the dog. No apology, no offers of help, nothing.

Needless to say, I was furious. I don’t care if she comes over or not, as long as she does what she says. I told her that I could give her her gifts now so she could open them whenever on Friday, but she said she’ll be here. I warned her that WE are opening presents on Christmas morning. We will not wait until 3:30 or whatever ridiculous hour she decides she feels like showing up.

I suggested she go home, since we didn’t need her help after all. Instead, she sat here until Ron asked her if she wanted to go shopping. She agreed, then waited for him to go outside, turned to me, and said, “What else do you want besides the pajamas?” as though I were giving her a grocery list. At that point, I was beyond done. I told her it didn’t matter (because it doesn’t). If my family doesn’t understand by now that it’s not about a list of THINGS that I expect wrapped and under the tree, they are never going to get it. If I want a thing, I can go buy a thing. It’s not about the things. It is truly the thought that counts. And if I have to do the thinking too? Why bother?

She finally left, without shopping with Ron of course. Now I’m depressed and angry and fed up and hate Christmas as much as ever. I know it’s my fault for having expectations surrounding the day (and today, as well), and I know it goes back to the unfillable void. No matter what sort of fantastic surprise my family dreamed up for me, it would never make up for all the crappy Christmases that have gone before. Even if they pulled off a Christmas miracle, it wouldn’t make up for my lack of a relationship with my mother. But it’s one thing to know something intellectually and something else entirely to know it emotionally and be able to let it go.

So I’m letting it go. My daughter won’t be a human being by Friday, so I can mark that off my list. Ron isn’t going to be suddenly inspired with ideas for all the frivolous things I don’t get myself all year long. I gave up on Matt a long time ago; besides, I’m thrilled that he is going to be HERE, which is gift enough for me.

Christmas is just a day and I really just don’t care.






My Immortal

Sunday was perfect. In spite of waking up with a headache, it was a relatively mild one and a single fioricet did the trick. It didn’t hurt that I took it with a cup of coffee, either. Within an hour, I was zinging around the house getting ready for Aubrey to come over and help with the Christmas decorations. We put up the outside lights and the tree, although we might have saved a lot of time and heartbreak if we’d remembered to test the damn lights first before hanging them from the eaves and bushes.

We got off to a bit of a rough start, with my chattering like a monkey and her monosyllabically responding. After an hour of my trying to make conversation and being met with, “Fine,” “OK,” “Yes,” No,” and “Sure,” I had a momentary flashback to my second marriage. I remember that I really did want to love Jon but he just irritated the fuck out of me to the point that I didn’t want to be around him, leading to our divorce. I wondered if one could divorce one’s children, and realized my mother divorced me years ago, so yes. Fortunately, I flashed forward again to the lessons learned during this, my third, marriage; sometimes it just takes a bit of patience and a whole lot of love to get back to where you love them again. Wait, you have to love them in order to love them? Yep. It’s not so much a fake it ’til you make it thing as it is an investment of time and self; of letting the other person know you think they are worth your love and attention. Especially if they are angry because they think that you don’t love them or want to be with them; it’s important to reassure them that you do love and want to be with them. To let them know that while home has changed, it is still home.

After we finished the lights, we were both freezing and had runny noses. I suggested hot chocolate and watching Love Actually, which if you read my blog, you know is my favorite Christmas movie. By the time the movie ended, we weren’t necessarily chatting, but things were better. We decided to put on Armageddon while we assembled the tree (I am soooo allergic to real trees), since we didn’t need to necessarily watch it as we’ve seen it several times. We hung the ornaments then I made pancakes and we blubbered and snuffled our way through Bruce Willis blowing himself up to save the world. Sugar, tears, and Christmas cheer all combined into chatty goodness. We stayed up until almost 2am watching Leverage and talking about school, Christmas presents, and the hot British guys that came into her restaurant a few days ago. She cross stitched and I knitted and life was wonderful.


The only thing that made me sad was realizing how many ornament stories I’ve forgotten. Most of our ornaments have stories behind them; the who/where/why/when gets told each year as we either put them up or take them down. This year I found myself looking at so many of them, wondering when and where I got them. I took for granted that I would always know such things, that I had plenty of time to get around to writing them down. Now I know what a lie that was.

Thinking about the ornaments got me thinking about so many other things that my children don’t know but should, because they may want to know later or their children might ask them when I’m gone. While I don’t have grandchildren yet, there has to eventually be at least one, right? I mean considering the Vegas odds? By the time that kid gets here, I will be lucky to remember my own name.

There are a few things that have already been passed on. Now Aubrey makes my peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and my spiced hot chocolate even better than I do. Both kids have been taught how to crochet. I taught Aubrey to cross stitch and dye yarn. But there are recipes that exist only in my head, like my split pea soup, potato soup, sour cream pancakes, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin bread…or in Ron’s head, like his chicken and squash soup, or his mind blowing gluten free pizza. These are things the kids love but don’t know how to make, and I (we) have failed to teach them.

I have reached an age where memory loss is no longer a distant possibility, but is instead a fact of life. I can no longer trust that I will remember. I’ve come to realize that my life is not just MY life; it is also the lives of those around me, specifically my children. The things that I’ve done are the memories that their lives are made of. The places I took them, the foods I cooked them, the clothes I bought them, the games we played, all make up the people they are. That is my immortality. And they are what must be preserved.




She Used To Be Mine

I met Aubrey for lunch today. As to be expected, it was awkward as we learn to navigate these uncharted waters of our new relationship. We talked about inconsequential stuff; school, work, Christmas shopping.

After we left the restaurant, she headed to our house to visit her dog and I headed up to Austin to visit a friend and go to IKEA. I plugged in my new phone, turned on Pandora, and chose the Sara Bareilles channel, where I heard a song I had never heard before. Heartbreaking words had me grateful I wasn’t wearing my contacts, but frantically wiping at my eyes to keep my mascara from smearing.

While I could write a long drawn out blog post, I could never say it better than this song could. So I’ll just leave it at this.

May You Grow Up To Be True

Our life with our daughter has entered a new phase and I’m having to make some major life changes to deal with it. While it is one thing to recognize that one has made a bad choice, it is another thing entirely to recognize it and continue to do it. While she has disappointed us in the past, and I have been furious with her before, never until now have I been ashamed of her.

My first reaction was to think about how to get her out of the situation she is in. Then as I thought back over her past life choices, I realized that she would just do it again. Her behaviour will not change without some kind of life-altering event, and if we are there to fix her problems, that will never happen. No, the best thing I can do for her is to let her muddle through on her own and set firm boundaries for our relationship.

For the moment, she’s not allowed at our house unless it is scheduled. She’s an adult with her own apartment (or she may possibly be living with someone else; we’re not sure), and it’s time we set a boundary regarding when she can come over. She would usually come by after work every night then sit here and watch tv until 4am. I would usually stay up with her which screwed with my sleep schedule. It also screwed with the dogs’ sleep, surprisingly enough. Now, she has to plan a visit like a normal person and it has to be during normal waking hours, with a set beginning and end time. Oddly enough, without the cat getting fed the extra six hours a day, he’s lost some much needed weight, as have the dogs.

I’ve agreed to continue to pay for her phone as long as she texts me every night to let me know she’s home. While she may or may not actually be home, it at least gives me a reassurance that she’s still alive for that current 24 hours. While she’s furious at me, I’ve been getting the single word, “home” with no punctuation or niceties. That’s perfectly fine. It meets the minimum requirements and I can live with that.

We will pay for school for at least the first two semesters, as remuneration for her old car that we sort of took over. While it isn’t as much money as what she put into the car, it is more money than she would get selling it.

Her current relationship partner is not allowed in our home, ever. We are extremely liberal people, and would not care the color, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity of someone she might date, so you can imagine how truly awful this person is. However, no matter what we say, she does not see it and “we just don’t understand.” Oh to be 22 and know and be right about EVERYTHING.

I’ve had to place her in the “outer circle,” which is the circle of people that I don’t mind spending time with but that I don’t trust. In other words, all conversation is light and meaningless, but still fun. Part of my boundary work is creating these relationship circles. It feels odd to have boundaries. I’m not used to them at all, but they really work to keep me from getting dragged into crap that I can’t do anything about.

My therapist and I agreed that I should attend some Al-Anon meetings so I can work on the three Cs; I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it. While my daughter is angry and hurt that I refuse to be dragged into her mess, I think in the end she will be glad that she won’t have to listen to my constant snarking and complaining about her choices. Even if we only talk about the weather, I will not make comments about her life choices.

At the moment, she’s acting like a petulant brat, but that’s to be expected. Considering that she’s 22 and it’s “her life” and she can “do what she wants,” she’s still a child in almost every way. Hopefully after life kicks her in the ass a few times, she’ll turn into a human being. I figure it should take another ten years or so. She’s a late bloomer. I know that she will have to hit the rock bottom of her life before she makes positive changes. She’ll get there much faster if I’m not there with a ladder, trying to save her along the way.

I’ve lived my entire parental life with the one question of “What would my mother do?” and then I do the opposite. My mother would fix it and make my life a living hell while reminding me constantly of my mistakes. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to fix it. I don’t want to constantly remind her of her mistakes either. Her mistakes are just that; HERS.

Meanwhile, I will live MY life, which is the only thing I can control. We are here for her when she is truly ready for help; the kind of help that will make a permanent change, not just the help that gets her from one mess to the next. I love her unconditionally, but that does not mean that I have to love her behaviour. There is no, “I’ll only love you if…” It is, “I love you, but I cannot do ‘x’ while you continue to do ‘y’.” And that is OK.