Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wire hangers & bottles.

I'm a mom.

We all have moms.

No, really. If you don't, where the heck did you come from?

You came from a uterus. I did, too.

Growing up I watched alot of television. I watched shows that showed you how a family was suppose to be. You know the kind...

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Donna Reed. I hated that cunt.

Seriously, she was so damn perfect. To an annoying point. And she acted as though life was rainbows & sunshine. I guess it would be if you had her figure & a doctor for a husband, but that's besides the point.

Call me white trash, but I always enjoyed this family...

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Roseanne.

They were amusing, human, & loved each other. Not a bad combo. They had crazy family, a dad that spent 20 years cheating on Roseanne & Jackie's mom, out of wedlock babies, teen marriage, teen sex, & fighting parents. Oh, & money problems. It was the side of life Donna Reed didn't show you.

Then, there is the other group. Do you recognize this one?

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NO WIRE HANGERS.

Need I say more?

What kind of family did you want? What kind did you have?

I'm the first to admit my own family is nutso. Seriously, nuts. I've spoken about it before in bits & pieces, but this has been eating at me the past couple days so here I am.

Personally, I came from the 3rd option. I was lucky that I had a great dad. My mom? I seriously think we had the "NO WIRE HANGERS!" freak out a few times, over different things.

I can tell you story after story. Dragging me across my driveway by my hair. Breaking a hairbrush over my head because she decided I wasn't holding still enough. Keeping me up late at night, telling me she was leaving my dad & I had to choose who I'd live with by the time I was 5. One of my earliest childhood memories is my mom bringing me out of my bedroom around 3, I'm crying because they are fighting & I'm scared, & she sits me on the kitchen counter in front of my dad telling me I'd never see him again, blah blah blah, & my dad telling her not to talk to me like that. There are more stories. Her & my dad, they fought alot. My dad would win, which meant my mom would need someone to take it out on. That was my role. The first time I remember it being bad was my dad & mom were fighting in our basement, which you had to get to outside. I was starving, it was dinner time, & I was stealing pieces of fish & eating it, waiting on them to stop so we could eat. My aunt & grandma showed up, I think I yelled for my mom at that point. I was like 5-ish. My mother beat the crap out of me. I don't remember that part, but I remember being hysterically crying, a mouth full of food, & yelled at to stay at my room while my aunt & grandma looked on. I remember my aunts sad face as my mom yelled that I was being punished for standing outside & listening to her & my dad, which wasn't true.

My dad worked night shift. When he & my mom were fighting, hell was going to happen around 10:45 at night for me. On those nights, as I spoke about, my mom would tell me she's leaving, was going to be poor & live on bread & water, & it was somehow my fault. I'd offer her my allowance, which would make her more angry usually.

I remember many nights being scared, crying, holding a stuffed animal while she yelled at me with me against the wall. On one of those nights, she ripped the head off of my best stuffed animal friend, Tramp. The next day, my dad sewed him back together for me. I still have him. So often, I would just cry & over & over again I'd say "I'm sorry." She'd yell at me "You don't know what that means!"

All of that bullshit finally stopped around 6th grade, when I stopped taking it & one day when she jumped in my face, I jumped right back in hers. A couple years later we almost went to blows in a similar situation. But once I stood againist her & not in a corner crying, she realized she lost her punching bag. Verbally, my mother still sucked. We still got into it, she'd freak out over something, & I'd just throw it all back at her. I have a quick, sarcastic wit & she can't keep up if she wanted.

Now, I know what you're saying, where the hell was that great dad & anyone else?

They were there. They ignored. My dad will still talk about that hairbrush over the head incident, because he'd just got home from work for it. He actually points to my 5th grade picture (did I forget to mention it was picture day?) & reminds me that the only reason I'm smiling is for him, because he asked me to not be upset & smile for my picture that day. Other people really didn't know the extent of it. I mean, they knew my mom had a crappy attitude but I guess they didn't think she was, well, like that. I've mentioned before, my mom is all about keeping up appearances.

I don't hate my mom. Not at all. I try to be understanding to an extent. I'm not mad over my childhood. My mom came from a fucked situation. She was the daughter of a poor teen mom who couldn't read & she never knew her father. The man listed as her father eventually killed someone, with an axe if I remember correctly, & went to jail until she was around 13. She grew up thinking he was her dad. Eventually my grandma married the man they call my grandpa, an abusive drunk (much like my grandmother was, they were a perfect pair) who was also a child molester. Go out on a limb there & guess what happened to my mom growing up. Her mom, as I mentioned, was a drunk. Her sister, who is younger, started drinking with their mom at a young age, so she was surrounded by abusive drunks until she married my dad & moved out. The psychologist in me wants to believe that while she fucked up alot when I was growing up, she didn't know any better at the time. Like the cycle continued, she did what was done to her.

Problem with that?

My mom totally denies this ever happened. Any of it. Well, she may admit to the hairbrush incident but only because my dad was a witness. She didn't usually have a witness. I like to think she's so ashamed she blocked it out, but as an adult I've seen & heard her deny things the same way, knowing good & well she knew differently. I guess it goes into the keeping up appearances. It's easier to write me off as a crazy person, who maybe got spanked when I was bad from time to time, than to admit that she sucked from the time I was around 3 or 4 until I got too big to take it anymore.

My mom has lots of denial. Not just with me, but with my grandmother as well. She's 70-some years old & dealing with the effects of years of booze & pills. My mom use to worry about her, but now it's changed. She says she never drank more than 2 beers & only at parties. And the pills? They were given by doctors, so that isn't a big deal. I don't know what it is about my magical number 2, but every drunk I've ever interacted with "only ever drinks 2 beers!" That's it. I remember my grandma getting plastered, she drank lots of vodka & would drink several beers at a time poured into those oversized straw cups you get a gas stations. When I was 5-ish, my parents sent me to stay with my grandma & aunt while they went out. I was there 30 minutes before I cried to go home. I explained that they were drinking & it scared me, which it did. They were drinking alot. My mom told them that the next day & they said I was lying. My mom gave me hell for lying about them, insisted I call & tell them I'm sorry. She'd call, give me the phone, & I'd refuse to talk. I wasn't lying. I never said I was sorry & I caught hell for it. So be it, even then I had this hard head of mine. I wasn't going to agree with something that wasn't right.

My mom became less crazy the past couple years. I say crazy, I should say aggressive I suppose. Less fighting, less snarky remarks, less everything. It was nice. When Joel died, she did well. Adam told me that for the first time, when he was walking her back to our hospital room before I started pushing, she was upset & clutching onto him like she was someones mom. I appreciated everything they did during & after that tragedy.

Of course, old habits die hard. The past few weeks have been hard. Lots of, well, passive aggressive bullshit. First, it was a cough. She wants me to rush my kid to a sick people filled urgent care for a cough he's had 3 days that they won't do anything about. That was before she had her lovely possible swine flu & put my dog to sleep. She went about 3 weeks without seeing Jules. By the time she saw him again, the day I took him over so I could go to the doctor, he had a small cough again. I spoke to her on the way home to let her know I was on my way & she told me, "I see he's still got that cough he's had for over a month" in a tone that dripped with, "why don't you care about your sick baby?" Of course then she hit me with a bombshell, that Jules had marks on him & she wanted to know how he got them. I told her I had no idea, that maybe the dog scratched him but I didn't see anything. She didn't seem to believe me & said in an almost threatening tone, "Well, if someone saw those they'd have some serious questions for you guys about how they happened." That, of course, pissed me off, implying people would think we abused him. I looked when I got to their house & there was nothing. We later figured out she had given him a bath & for some odd reason, during a bath he'll sometimes get red looking marks on his shoulders.

Over the past couple months, every sniffle has been cause for debate. Anything she wants to thinks is automatically better than what we are doing or wanting. At Jules birthday party she made a point to talk & talk to people who worked with Adam & family, but the friend I'd invited, because I'd met her online, she didn't say a word to & didn't even bother to remember her name. She wants us to bring him to her house on Halloween...to let her take him trick or treating. She wanted to have him stay all night on Christmas Eve at her house, tried to put him to bed, & actually threw a hissy fit when we were leaving with him. She goes on & on about how she thinks he should talk me, how she thinks he should be potty trained. Mind you, he's talking more each day & as far as potty training we've been trying for about 6 months without much success. She recently told me how awful it was to not tell her the name we picked for Joel before telling other people, how sad it was & people told her they were sorry they knew & she didn't until after he died & how it was the saddest thing she had to deal with. Mind you, we didn't decide his name until I was around 39 weeks & about 2 weeks before he passed away, my mother never took my phone calls & ignored my messages. Even the night he died, I didn't get to talk to her, I had to leave her a voice mail she didn't bother checking until the next afternoon. But seriously, the saddest thing you had to deal with? She didn't have much to say when I told her "well, if not knowing a name first is the saddest thing that happens this time around, don't you think you should be happy?" Don't try to guilt me when you were the one who refused my calls & ignored my messages. Was I suppose to keep it a secret until you got the stick out of your butt & wanted to talk to me?

Tonight my mom & I had a throw down, worse than yesterday when she claimed to have called me easlier & I told her I didn't get her call, which she took as me telling her she was too stupid to call me & responded to everything I said with a bitter, "I don't care!" response. They kept Jules overnight this weekend. We got there around his nap time, my mom pulled out a bottle. He's 2, mind you. We told her we don't do bottles anymore. My dad agreed they were pointless, but she went ahead & put one together & gave it to him. My dad did damage control & told us they'd stop them. She seemed angry that we were telling her to stop.

Fast forward to when he came home. Every night since, he's fussed for a bottle. Every. Single. Night. He'll ask to go to bed at 10:30, then fuss for a bottle for 2 hours straight. I really have no idea what she did, but part of me thinks because we told her not to anymore , she pushed them on him. She's been doing it all along from what we've figured out, but never before now has he come home expecting them.

So tonight, I talk to her. I ask her to not give my 2 year old a bottle. She got defenisve & told me, "I don't give him bottles!" which had Adam blurt out in the backgound, "we just saw her with one the other day!" I quiet him & tell her the same thing but for 5 minutes we go back & forth on if she gives him bottles or not. She finally explains, "I only give him a bottle at nap time & at bedtime." I had to force her to accept that was giving bottles. She got loud & offended & the first thing she said once she understood was "so you're taking his bottles but not potty training him?!"

I wanted to beat myself in my head. I explained we had been potty training him for a few months. And that he was over a year pass when bottles are suppose to be stopped. I'm not some hardcore person, he had a bottle for about 18 months at night, but we weaned him off & for months we've not given him one. She then gets more defensive & tells me how he doesn't even drink them, then I lay the bombshell out that my dad told us just the other day that "he drinks them down so fast, I don't see a point to them now anyway" which left her speechless & I'm sure had my dad yelled at tonight. When I tried to explain that for whatever reason after the other night he'd been asking for one every night & we're up until almost 1am trying to get him to bed, which she responded with, "Well, he goes to bed here before 11 so I don't know what your problem is." I laughed & tried to get her to make the connection between him sleeping because of the bottle she would give him, but I'm not sure she ever did.

The convo basically went into how awful we are for taking his bottles & how sad it is that he can't have them. That babies shouldn't have to be taken off bottles & she went as far to say "if he was like 7 & wanted a bottle here at home, I don't see the big deal."

I should mention that as a child, my teeth were fucked up. I had rotten teeth in the front from what I understand & my front teeth were so crooked that I had to have braces on my front teeth for 2 years before I had a full set put on for another 2 years because there was no way to fix them otherwise. Honestly, I don't want to have to pay for that insanity, not to mention that I don't want my son to go through the pain of fillings & braces that can be avoided. She finally got off the phone angry, I got off the phone in complete amazement about how insane this was. If I had approached her with "hey asshole, stop giving my fucking kid bottles or else" I would understand her reaction, but it wasn't like that at all. And when I tried to explain so she wouldn't think it was personal, she just kept saying, "I could care less, he's your kid."

I, of course, had to bite my tongue over & over to stop myself from correcting her incorrect use of the saying "couldn't care less."

But you see, this has nothing to do with bottles. I'm not stupid. It's just another topic on top of the real issues...for whatever reason, my mother has some sort of bitterness & resentment towards me. Has since I was a child, I have no doubt in my mind about that one. Kinda like Mommy Dearest, it the woman looked for things to freak out on her daughter about. If it wasn't wire hangers, it was dolls or it was hair. Whatever she could use, she used it. And that my friends, is my life. And any acknowledgment of me as an individual, it's either ignored or treated as if it's wrong or pointless. I mean hell, when I was on the news a couple months ago she didn't even watch it, she went to dinner & watched it a couple days later online. And I know for a fact she's never come here to my blog, which amuses me since the news story was focused on my blog about our loss & my life in general. I think in a way she wanted to avoid it because if she didn't, she'd have to admit I'm doing something. Yeah, it's just a lame blog, but it's something. My mom didn't want me to go back to school, she seems to want me to stay in some box, a box where she's better than me & where she can feel like because of that she's right. I think she's afraid that I might be able to do something, nothing in particular, on my own which she fought against most of my childhood. "Ugh, a writer?! Get real!" I think that was actually the day I decided to write a book. If there is anything I am, it's competitive & if someone says I can't do it or that I'm crazy, I'll prove them wrong just to spite them.

The woman has more money & things than we do & she enjoys showing it. But I remember when my parents were in their 20's with a small child, they weren't living high class. A two bedroom house without doors anywhere in the house in a coal camp beside a creek isn't fancy. Of course she now likes to remind me how her house is bigger, nicer, & in a better neighborhood than mine & how my $200 dishwasher isn't a shiny as her $1500 dishwasher.

Personally, I like my crappy house that we have because I think I'm a nice person. I'd rather be a nice person that a status, but maybe I'm weird. I guess I am, because when I mentioned we'd picked kids to buy for over Christmas from the "angel tree" for kids in poverty, she got annoyed & said, "Ugh, you're still doing that?"

The other day, when my mom found out about our new dog, she got angry. She told me "you must be a sad person, always trying to save the world."

I am, I'm a sad person. I feel bad for homeless people, I give them money. I feel bad for stray animals, I feed them & help them if they need it. I feel bad for kids who go without things. I feel bad for their parents, who don't want their kids to go without. I feel bad for people I don't know or don't have to know. How I developed that personality I'll never know. Maybe that's why I believe in nature when it comes to nature vs. nurture.

I'm not trying to save the world. I'm trying to save myself. If I go 50-some years through life & don't feel like I did a single thing for anyone, I'll feel like my life has been wasted. That's part of the reason I'm here. Yes, I like to bitch & make fun of things, but I've had comments & emails from people...people I don't know, thanking me for what I say. Thanking me for being a small voice when they can't find the words.

Holy shit, I'm proud of myself. Not for anything special, but for being a decent human being. In this world now, I think anyone who is decent should be proud, it's a road less traveled.

I love the mom I get glimpses of. The funny woman who is kinda a blunt bitch like I am. Those glimpses are few & far between at times. Those are the things that keep me around, my son loving my dad is the other.

I'm a mom. I didn't learn the best things from mine, but I learned bad things I didn't want to do or say. Going through what I've been through is what made me the person I am today, so I can't complain since I think I'm pretty awesome. But as a mom, I know what I will & will not expose my children to. And one of those things is that I won't allow them to become some pawn in a passive aggressive bitch fight. I don't plan on saving the world, but I do plan on protecting my own little part of it. And I won't keep pretending that it's just about bottles. Or wire hangers. Whatever it happens to be at the moment.

8 comments:

  1. Wow Jess, that's so sad. It's amazing the lengths we will go to as parents to protect our children from things that hurt us as children. I'm so sad to learn of your relationship with your mother and how abusive it's been. My therapist told me that as parents, we tend to want opposite for our children as we had growing up, that is if we lacked structure, we would give our children boundaries and rules and routines. From what I can see, you're doing a great job with Jules. Potty training is individual for each child. I was potty trained by eighteen months, my daughter was just about four before she gave up her diapers. You cannot force a child who is not interested in the potty to use it, it just causes problems. As for your mother undermining your parenting with the bottle, be firm about it. Tell her that if she continues to undermine your parenting, that Jules will only be allowed supervised visits at her house until she can respect your rules and wishes. It may seem hardassed but eventually she will get it. Keep writing your blog...I love it. Hugs

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  2. I love Roseanne. Been watching it so much recently and may just start buying the box sets hehe.

    but your mom is just...entertainment. to see how she acts from what you say makes me giggle and i am sure you get a giggle out of it as well. hold your ground. Ry did not get off his bottle until just after 18 months and it was only at night. That was only b/c he found a sippy cup he wanted to try and we litterally RAN w/ switching him to the sippy cup for bedtime. sure he took them all during the day but never for night. Now, its the battle for no more cups at all for nighttime.

    Potty training? ugh i hate it also. I am hoping Ry is done before Lena Fetus here is born in 10 weeks. *hugs* its a trying battle and one we will all win one day!

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  3. I always enjoyed watching Roseanne. It's more like normal family!! I don't even know what to say about your mom.

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  4. Jess, I came from a fucked up family as well. There were many nights when my brothers had to call the cops on my father, for beating my mother. For what it's worth, I think you're an amazing person..

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  5. What is it about that region of the world that produces those mothers? Yours sounds so much like mine...and my grandmother was so off her rocker. Must be the chemicals leaching into the water from the mines. :) My mother was never physically abusive...she tried, but by the time she tried, I was bigger than her and had the same throw down you had. My grandmother and my mother are both emotional abusers and use people as pawns. We had our own throw down yesterday over my son, because she can't take the fact she isn't in control and I won't let her control. All over a stupid hockey game we were going to go to...apparently this was going to kill my child in the long run. Geez...how did I manage to come out of that house with only the issues I have. Hang in there and keep doing what you are doing. Denial is so powerful, but you also have power when you face it. Good luck and big hugs!

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  6. Your mother and my grandmother sound like they could have been twins. And like the pp said - I think when you are in that situation - you become a better mom - because you know how you don't want to be for your kids. My mom is incredible - and it amazes me with the bullshit she had to endore. With your spunk and intellegence - have no fear. You're an incredible mom too!

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  7. Wondering if you and yours are okay, since it has been a while since you posted. I was figuring we would have heard something from you and than man you married about the whole Connan/Leno thing. Hoping you are doing well.

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  8. Alive & well (you know, as well as we are while we deal with life in general). Planning on blogging tonight.

    AND TEAM COCO FOR THE WIN!

    Of course.

    I mean, I always liked Leno, seemed like a nice guy & I enjoyed him enough (not nearly as much as CoCo). But now I just think he's a huge douche bag.

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