Random local color and heartache

by Janie Jones

Spud poses

Leif-Mom brought the spud home late on Monday.  She stayed on until yesterday afternoon before heading back for Kansas.  The week went by in a strange bubble of psychic misery and stress.

Without meaning to sound all flaky, I am rather empathic when it comes to emotional energy.  Good, bad, indifferent.  It all wears on me.  And some people are better at “broadcasting” it than others.  When I’m already stressed out from other factors, other people’s emotions affect me even more.  The amount of it I was living in the last 3 days totally wiped me out.  I now feel like I’m recovering from the plague.  Weepy, sore, listless, exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally.  The spud, I don’t think, is really very happy to be home.  On the farm I’m sure she was spoiled to all extremes.  Which is evident from her turning her nose up at the three good squares I’ve been serving, and the hideous new pile of skank-wear Leif-Mom bought on deep discount at various ‘marts and garage sales down south.  She also doesn’t want me to put her hair up in pony tails now that she has a fancy pants new headband from Leif-Mom.

Leif-Mom very proudly talks about all the things they did and how she managed my child.  I, however, just hear, in her mild western drawl, “Well, I have no idea why you have trouble with her, she’s a perfect angel.  You must be a bad mom.  Look at all the wonderful things I bought your child that you can’t.  Look at all the wonderful opportunities I can give your child that you can’t.  Next summer I’ll take her to *insert name of some huge theme park* because you can’t.  Oh, and I don’t need to ask permission either, I’ll just start planning now, and you’ll agree because you live with my son so by default I have rights to spend time with your kid.”

Of course, that’s not at all what she says, and probably I’m just being an idiot and freaking out, but I seriously have always had this frustrating feeling that because I’m poor and my spud is the only baby most people I’m in contact with have been around in ages that they feel they can dive in and steal my mom-thunder.  They send clothes, toys, advice and everything else, mostly unsolicited and unwanted.  All it does is highlight all the things I can’t do and my insecurities because I’m broke, and/or too busy trying to work or go to school.  Being broke and practical I can’t go buy double the amount of clothes and toys just so I can have my input.  So in the end, family, friends and even virtual strangers dress and shower my child with belongings while I am left feeling helpless and impotent and the small things I do seem trivial and are often ignored by the spud in light of the showier more expensive things provided by other people.

It doesn’t seem to matter either how many times I tell Leif-Mom or other people the spud doesn’t need any more toys or clothes.  It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I say she’s probably got too many other things to do to come and visit.  In fact, I put off the visit to Leif-Mom for two years.  Now I finally was circumvented and she has buried her flag and laid claim to the spud.  Summers now, apparently, are assumed to unquestionably include a vacation to the farm of Leif-Mom.

When I said, “Well, let’s not discuss that so soon.  Next summer is a whole year away and I don’t know yet what we’ll be doing or whether she’ll be available.  I may not even have money to go get her from her dad’s, so I may not even see her next summer unless he brings her up.  I don’t even know where I’ll be living or whether I’ll be in school or working or what.”

Leif-Mom replies, “Oh, it’s okay.  If you can’t go I’ll go pick her up from her dad’s.”

To which the politeness in me replies through gritted teeth, ” I don’t think we can ask you to do that.”

L-M:  “Oh, but I don’t mind at all.  We really enjoyed having her.”

Me, plastering the fake smile on my face:  “Well, I think that’s too much an imposition.  Let’s just wait and see what next summer brings.”

L-M:  “Well, and I think you’ll have her back before too long.  I don’t think this arrangement (spud going to live with her dad and step-mom) will last the whole year.”

Which more than kinda pissed me off.  I don’t really want to cause a scene in front of the spud, so I’m trying to be all subtle like, and she’s just digging a bigger hole as if daring me to give her the smack down she deserves.  But I don’t want to insult Leif or his mom while she’s a guest in our house, so I’m left repeating myself, “Well, I really think this is something we should wait to discuss closer to next summer.”

So what does she do?  She gives the spud a big hug and as she’s saying goodbye tells her all about next summer when the spud comes to visit her on the farm again that they will do this and that and go to *insert name of some huge theme park.*  And they will get aunt so and so and cousin so and so who’s about the spud’s age to come along so the spud will have a playmate for the excursion.

Great.  Get the kid’s hopes up and then make me look like the bad guy when I have to ki-bosh the plan I never authorized her to make.  You know, the spud still cries sometimes because some neighbors with little girls promised the spud she could come for sleep overs when they moved to their new house and then never made good on the offer.  The spud may choose not to remember that she’s supposed to brush her teeth after breakfast or empty the trash, or how to multiply by 3s, but she sure as Hell-fire remembers when a promise like that is made and broken.  And, who is always the one who has to deliver the bad news?  I’m sure she’ll remember that too.

And people wonder why I feel like a bad mom.

Because well-meaning idiots don’t listen to me and then set me up to fail.

2 Comments to “Random local color and heartache”

  1. You always hope family members have maturity, dignity and really intend to do good things. You always find to many are shallow, judgmental and unwilling to leave healthy relationships alone. Their meddling and overbearing intrusion usually wears patience to the breaking point. It’s like that’s their intention, so they can show their superiority.

    Hang in there. You’re far from a bad parent and your fans think you’re great.

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