“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
I’ve spent more time at home than usual this past week of wedding season trying to get my husband on track to recover from his heart surgery. I’m pretty sure he’s bored listening to my phone calls to and from clients but he’s learning to love green smoothies and walking the neighborhood so we are making “strides” in his recovery.
It’s been a beautiful weekend in Texas for outdoor weddings. Cindy has started driving lessons with Makenna since Makenna is working and going to school which prevents us from putting her in driving school. My twin frequently calls me on location to complain about the twins, Maryssa and Makenna consistently failing to address chores at her house. Today was no different. This time the ongoing drama was about laundry. Maryssa won’t wash Makenna’s clothes and Maryssa rarely bothers to wash her own clothes but both of the twins are lazy about pulling their weight on laundry, dishes or room cleaning. Trying to get twin 16 year olds to pitch in is an ongoing argument at Cindy’s house.
I was on location at the Botanic Gardens preparing for my 1PM wedding when my 6PM bride called crying about her mother in law butting in again. The thing to remember is that too often we have people that think they are helping who are interfering. I made a call to the mother in law about changes on wedding day. No floral vendor wants changes to color on wedding day. NONE. Neither do the caterers. I can make ceremony changes right up to the ceremony and often do but understand that people “outside of the events industry” are often completely in the dark about timelines and deadlines. Further, the mother in law made these calls without contacting me, the mother of the bride whose paying for everything or the bride. The caterer and florist both called the bride prior to notifying me as well. PLEASE don’t think you are “helping” if you aren’t my client, one of the vendors or the couple. You aren’t helping you are interfering.
Now moving on to “yet another mother in law” situation. A client I married two years ago is expecting. I’m baptizing the baby. The mother in law is really excited and contacted me to go over what she wanted regarding this baptism. Again, I recognize that it’s exciting to be an expectant grandparent but your son or daughter and their religious preferences for a ceremony have already been discussed and decided. Please don’t assume your invitation to the baptism is your invitation to dictate the religious preference you have. The parents have been given all of the options and information they need to make the decision of religious preference regarding the ceremony.
Now moving on to yet another mother in law situation that’s causing stress to my client. We have a mother in law who always wanted a daughter that is working really hard at establishing a relationship and a daughter in law who lost her mother at a young age. I’ve heard both sides of this situation from both parties. My bride doesn’t want to replace her mother. The mother in law wants to be a part of her daughter in laws life. When our children marry we gain another child. We are gaining a daughter in law or a son in law. They are creating a life together with a new spouse. Maybe you’ve always had a tradition of having Christmas at your home or celebrating holidays at your home. When your child marries they may want to celebrate holidays such as Easter at their home or split the holiday by house hopping to the other parents houses. For years my son and his wife had the burden of bouncing from her mothers house to my house to my ex husbands house Etc. My son decided to dedicate even and odd years to visits. One year was Stephanie’s mother and grandmother as well as my year and the following year was Stephanie’s dad, granddad and my sons fathers house years. This dramatically cut down the expectations of my son and his wife house bouncing to so many relatives on holidays. After the birth of their son last year, my son and his wife no longer house hop for the holidays. Instead all of the parents and grandparents go to their house or we don’t. It depends. I didn’t go to my sons house for Christmas this year because I had holiday weddings and obligations that prevented me from doing so.
Easter weekend I’m working 4 weddings and have already dropped off my grandsons Easter basket, toys and Easter clothes. While I would love to go visit this year my son advised me “dad wanted to have a celebration at his moms house for Easter.” As a parent and grandparent, I could get upset or do what I always do and say “okay sounds great have a good time and get some photos of Oliver for me while I’m on location.”
The choices our children make as a newly married couple or even new parents are their choices. While we would love to give guidance and insight or suggestions, it’s sometimes best to keep our ideas to ourselves. I would have loved to see Oliver at Christmas but I couldn’t. I won’t see him at Easter either but I will eventually see him. I wish my son and his wife would drop off my grandson to spend the day with me but so far each time I ask about babysitting I’m told “you have a really busy schedule but we’ve got it covered. If we need you to babysit we will let you know.” Was I mad about this? Yes. Because if I’ve learned anything after my husbands heart attack and surgery it’s that life is fragile. I would love to have more time with Oliver but the more I beg to the more I’m told my son and his wife don’t need any time to themselves away from Oliver.
One day Oliver will be a teen and eventually an adult and most likely not have time for his parents. Of course parents never think about this.
One day grandparents will beg to see their grandchildren and busy parents won’t have time to visit.
One day everyone will learn the precious gift of spending time with their children and grandchildren whether it’s a holiday or not. Make time to visit your parents. Make time to let your parents spend time with their grandchildren. Prioritize your parents without patronizing them when they ask to see you or their grandchildren. They are asking for a reason. Grandchildren bring us joy. Our time here is short. We would love a visit or an opportunity to babysit.
For Cindy, her grandchildren are bringing her a thorn in her side. Teenagers aren’t fun. The fun years are the young years in my opinion. Maryssa and Makenna have no time for us. They don’t want to go anywhere with us. They like to stay in their rooms and rarely interact with us. Makenna is NOW spending time with Cindy driving. This spending time together driving is by necessity. Cindy isn’t exactly a patient driving instructor.
Raising a second generation of children has been a burden financially and emotionally for Cindy who is also a heart attack and heart surgery survivor.
Parents everywhere are raising their grandchildren because their children aren’t “parent material.” Taking on the role of a guardian in your 40’s, 50’s and 60’s is a sacrifice. Love is sacrifice.
For a year now I’ve been driving the twins mom to work on my way to work and she’s been taking an Uber home because I’m often at rehearsals in the evening, on location or traveling and unavailable to be a personal taxi for Stephaney.
My niece no longer rides the bus. Steph has decided she’s too good for the bus after working at a job that pays enough for her to afford Uber. She’s also occasionally reminded by not only me but also her mother that “raising her twin daughters is a huge responsibility for not only us but also our husbands.”
Stephaney has NO IDEA of the sacrifices it takes to raise children. She’s never had to be a mother in any capacity. This morning while rushing to drive her to work on my way to my clients at the gardens, she complained that I was “2 minutes late picking her up.”
I lost it on her. “Do you know that I’m busy being a nurse to my husband, addressing clients needs, helping my sister with the twins and trying to run a household and three businesses. Do you realize that your only responsibility is YOU. You are paying rent for the first time in your life and I’m driving you to a job everyday that you have never once thanked me for doing and your mom still pays your cell phone bill. You are supposed to be saving up for a car and I’ve got a news flash for you, I CANNOT wait until you buy your own car so I won’t be expected to drive you to work everyday and unappreciated for juggling my schedule to accommodate your needs.” Ugh. My niece is a narcissist. She also doesn’t have a clue regarding the sacrifices Cindy and I have made for 16.5 years raising the twins.
Meanwhile in California… Leigh Ann is already planning her return trip to Texas with Maddy. Cindy’s house is chaotic with Cindy and the twins but when Leigh Ann and Maddy return to Texas, it’s REALLY chaotic. While we love having Maddy home, Leigh Ann argues with the twins non stop about their lazy entitlement and inability to pitch in and help around the house. I find myself consistently concerned that Makenna has been working and earned $12k working at McDonalds and has a zero balance. Where is she spending all that money? I have the same concerns with Stephaney. She’s made $18k in 6 months and pays $650 a month in rent at the group house she’s living at and has given me $2k to save for her towards a car but where’s the rest of her money? I’ve got to find time to sit down Makenna and her mother, Stephaney to discuss finances with both of them.
Maryssa is going to have to get a job to learn the value of a dollar too. As parents and guardians it’s essential to teach our children and prepare them to leave the nest. Makenna views her earnings as free money to spend but when she starts driving she’s going to be paying her own insurance. Cindy and I have decided the best way to teach Makenna economic responsibility is to have her pay her own car insurance since we are providing the car.
Friday Cindy and I were going to fill up the Mitsubishi for a driving lesson with Makenna and it wouldn’t start. We wound up calling a tow truck and letting Makenna drive the Nissan Rogue I gave Cindy for Christmas. Makenna was upset that “her car” was in the shop. I reminded her that if she were an adult, the expense of repairs and towing would be HER responsibility. This surprised her. “How can I pay for towing and car repairs when I don’t have any money MiMi?” This opened my window to bring up budgeting (again). “Makenna adults sacrifice to pay for unexpected expenses. They save money for a rainy day. They don’t spend all of their money on fun stuff. They pay rent, utilities, phone bills, groceries, Dr Appts, unexpected surgeries or ER visits, the dentist and all of the things we pay for you because you aren’t an adult. Your braces were $6k the insurance didn’t cover your braces or your sisters. Shoes, school supplies, car repairs, clothes, medicine, and all of your expenses are paid for because you aren’t an adult. One day all of these responsibilities will be on you. One day spending all of your money on fun stuff isn’t going to work out for you. You will need to prepare for unexpected expenses. Uncle Matthew’s surgery even with good insurance is going to cost us thousands of dollars for the copay. Insurance doesn’t pay for everything. It pays for a percentage and it’s not free. Health insurance costs me and uncle Matthew about $15k a year just as it does Cindy and Steve. When you get the insurance at work as an adult it isn’t free either. Your employer will pay a portion and you pay the rest. When you go to the Dr you pay a copay. People don’t plan for a health emergency or car repairs but they should. These things happen and they are often expensive. You need to learn to budget your money now before you are an adult.” She looked at me and somberly said “being an adult is a lot.” She’s right.
Saturday morning while stopping for gas to drop Stephaney off at work, my niece said “gas is $2.79 now? I thought it was like $1.50.” I shook my head and said “driving you to work everyday isn’t free to me. You complain you have to take an Uber home because I’m working and it’s $10-15. Did you ever consider that you are saving $10-15 for every morning I dropped you off to work at my expense? Nope. Guess what? When you do finally get enough money together to buy that car you are going to be buying gas and paying for your own car repairs and insurance. Unlike all of your other cars, your mom and I will not be paying for your car insurance. Buckle up because adulting is coming your way kiddo. No more free rides for you adult kids. Cindy and I are raising the twins and our responsibilities to you, your sister and my son are to advise you that the banks are closing the doors. We are out of the check writing business with you folks. Did you know that other adult kids take their moms to lunch for Mother’s Day or their birthday? We take you guys to lunch. We always have. Other adult kids bring their moms flowers and all we do around here is bend over backwards accommodating our adult children and grandchildren. Start appreciating what we do and have done for you because with Makenna driving soon, Cindy and I are circling the wagons and cutting back on paying for your uniforms and nails. It’s high time you start paying your own way.”
This entire conversation went over Stephaney’s head by Sunday. After advising her of how much I go out of my way to drive her to work my niece asked “when are we going on vacation?” What the? I looked over and said “there’s no we in me. You’re an adult. Your mom and I need a vacation but it won’t be with our adult kids. Our travel is for business only and quite frankly we are getting sick and tired of footing the bills for you and Leigh Ann to go with us when we travel. You and your sister have never bought a plane ticket or paid for a hotel or rented a car. It’s high time ya all learn. If you want a vacation I suggest you start saving your money to buy a car and stop blowing it and then plan your vacation. Parents don’t owe their adult children expense paid trips and vacations. In fact if anyone needs a vacation around here it’s Cindy and I from the immense responsibilities we have taking care of everyone else first and ourselves last.”
Good Lord. Today is one of those days I’m wondering what’s going to happen when Cindy and I aren’t here taking on every burden with our families. I am the mother in law I have never had. I’m there for whatever my daughter in law, son or grandson need. What I need is more time with my grandson.
I’m off to my next location from this parking lot and hoping it’s a drama free event but at least my bride is no longer crying. It’s HER day and she’s going to have it HER way..