Your Eyes Have A Mist From The Smoke Of A Distant Fire- Reality, Regrets & Relatives..
Talking to my bride today, I could relate with her anxiety about marrying into a family with “drama.”
I’m sure there are a few families out there with no drama but my family wouldn’t be one of them. Someone somewhere is always upset at someone else in my family. It’s an ongoing stressor.
My twin sister is constantly coming up with quotes about life situations. These quotes can be about family or business. Many people assume these quotes are about THEM. “Family is like a broken fence. You can fix it but someone is going to come along and tear it down again.”
For years I’ve been transparent about my family and my business because as many of my clients are aware, Cindy and I have had calls on location from her daughter, Stephaney disrupting our day with one emergency after the next. It’s tough to act normal when your family brings abnormality into your life. Ask anyone who has someone in their family causing conflict and you will get a better grasp of what they are dealing with while trying to act normal.
My father is now living with our brother and his wife in North Carolina. For twenty plus years, Cindy and I were dealing with dad in Texas.
No adult child expects to be caring for their parent. We certainly didn’t. Cindy and I left home at 15. We have raised our children and grandchildren as a team. We didn’t have a grandma or grandpa to drop our kids off with like “normal families.” Instead, Cindy and I only had one another to lean on through our divorces as single parents. There was NO way Cindy or I would have taken OUR mother OR father in to care for THEM in old age when NEITHER had cared for us as children. When you leave home as young as we did, make it through life and hardships like we did and have no help from your family like we “didn’t” you don’t owe your parents because they are old. Our father expected Cindy or I to do so and was lit when we didn’t. “You CANNOT profit from THE harvest if you DIDN’T plant the CROP.”
Our sister in law, Michelle calls us daily about “dealing with dad.” Having someone else in your home is chaotic but having an aging parent is even more traumatic for your spouse if that spouse is the one primarily caring for your parent. Our brother took dad in but his decision IS causing stress under his roof. It’s a Helluva commitment.
For a little over six months now I’ve been driving Stephaney to work so she can save up to buy a car. I’m not always available as I have client needs that come first. On these occasions, Stephaney uses Uber. She also complains about the rates. I complain about juggling my schedule for free to drive her to work and point out how much money she is saving by hitching a ride with me.
Trying to teach budgeting to both Stephaney and my grandniece, Makenna who have both earned thousands more than they’ve saved working is an ongoing “conversation” with both of them.
When one of our adult children “run short financially,” it’s Cindy and I they call to cover the shortage.
My son is being financially responsible because he’s a new father and because several years ago when he was reckless by renting a house he couldn’t afford after I told him not to he learned I wasn’t going to save him after he failed to listen to my advice.
I had bought tires for both my son and his wife and paid for $987 in repairs for motor mounts this past Christmas as well as gifted my twin sister a Nissan Rogue but helping my family is different than supporting my family. I will help them but they need to be willing and able to support themselves.
Makenna was given Cindy’s Outlander for Christmas. She will be expected to pay her own car insurance. She will be expected to buy her own gasoline and pay for oil changes too.
Makenna has been working for about 8 months at McDonald’s. She’s earned a little over $12k. Week after week she’s overdrawn. I discussed this issue with Cindy who continues to make deposits to Makenna’s account. Making someone responsible doesn’t entail covering them over and over.
Makenna must begin to learn accountability. She and her twin will be 17 in September. It’s time to learn how to be responsible. Cindy and Steve are paying taxes for Makenna to work at McDonald’s. If Makenna doesn’t learn about budgeting now she never will.
My niece Leigh Ann IS a shopper. She loves to buy things so much that she often doesn’t bother to remove the tags in the event she will need to return them. FaceTiming with Leigh Ann she’s almost always still wearing the tags. Yesterday Maddy was still wearing the tags on her shirt and her overalls. Cindy and I laugh about this tag wearing. Leigh Ann has even shown up on location wearing tags like Minnie Pearl. Maybe our clients notice it but they never say anything about Leigh Ann forgetting to remove her tags on clothing.
Leigh Ann is the return Queen. She will return ANYTHING and she does. Occasionally, her husband handles returns for her. When Leigh Ann is in Texas she always has a bag of returns in one or more of our vehicles. It’s a running joke that errands involve returns with Leigh Ann.
From shopping to buying expensive electronics, Leigh Ann has the latest and greatest which bothers my son who thinks Leigh Ann is spoiled “because she’s the oldest.” This competition situation among my son and my nieces is a thorn in my side. I cannot force my nieces and my son and his wife to get along. Cindy can’t either. In fact this year Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and most likely Mother’s Day weren’t spent with my family members who refuse to get along with each other. I cannot for the life of me force my family to stop their constant bickering.
Leigh Ann and Stephaney who is the mother of the twins both complain that Maryssa and Makenna are spoiled. My son complains Leigh Ann is spoiled and Cindy as well as myself “do too much for Steph and have been doing too much since the twins were born. It’s unfair that you devote so much of your time to Steph. You drive her to work, you help her pay her rent. You are always helping Steph.”
The reality is that I help all of my family members including my son and his wife. I pay for car repairs and I’ve spent thousands on clothing and shoes for my new grandson but the minute my son calls me and asks what I’m doing which is dropping off Steph on my way to a client meeting, he says “you are always doing things for Steph.”
When my son asks “when is Leigh Ann coming back to Texas?” It isn’t because he’s asking to plan a get together. He’s asking to point out that Leigh Ann has been home with Cindy for most of her marriage. Leigh Ann is the child that NEVER wanted to leave home. In fact, Leigh Ann still lives most of the year with Cindy and flies home with her daughter, Maddy for a few months out of the year. I know it’s odd but her husband knows Leigh Ann is happier in Texas and accepts her choice. Maddy is home schooled so moving from CA to TX or TX to CA doesn’t affect her studies.
Two weeks ago I nearly lost my husband to a heart attack. Things like this change the way you think. Death and even the possibility of death is a rude awakening. The possibility of being a widow has changed the way I think. My husband is 12 years older. Cindys husband is 14 years older.
We cannot continue to enable our adult children by supplementing their lifestyles and incomes. If my husband had died, I’m in a far stronger financial situation than if something were to happen to Steve. Cindy’s husband is a truck driver. We are constantly trying to do home repairs at Cindy’s house ourselves to save money while Steve is on the road. Sometimes with disastrous results.
Our last project at Cindy’s was her bathroom floor. She had installed wood floors but one of the twins, Makenna took a shower without closing the shower curtain and ruined the floor. Cindy and I decided to tile it instead. Home projects at Cindy’s are always interesting. Steve came home to find the new tile floor “reminding me of a swimming pool tile but more festive.” Well, it is a little festive but the tiles were on sale.
Meanwhile at my house, I’m turning one of our living rooms into a home gym for my husband after surviving several heart attacks and surgery a few weeks ago.
Trying to be a referee to my family members while fielding the busiest wedding season I’ve ever had this season is and continues to be stressful to Cindy and I. Why can’t we get our adult children to get along? I’m at a loss for finding a solution for the conflict that shrouds our family.
Marriage is a merger. It merges families from both sides. Our sister, Tammy’s daughter, Kori moved to Fort Worth several months ago. I’ve tried to find time to go visit to keep her from being lonely away from her Lompoc friends and family but my schedule is so tight that I’m always juggling to find time. Time is the most important thing we have in life. I wish I had more time to see my grandson, Oliver. I’m thankful I have more time with my husband who survived a very close call.
Throughout the last year I’ve lost many friends to illness and a few to suicide. One man shot himself over his inability to see his brother for a year in a Texas Prison. One bride died battling cancer hoping to see her husband in a Texas prison last weekend. She was brave, passionate, had an amazing smile and five children. I still can’t believe Carmelita is gone.
Life may be never again be something any of us took for granted after this past year.
If I could have one wish it would be for my son, daughter in law and my nieces to get along with each other because I fear one day when Cindy and I are gone this family will fall apart without our constant refereeing and pleading for everyone to get along with be gone.
Call your parents and tell them you love them. Send photos of their grandchildren in the clothing they’ve mailed to you or with the toys they sent. Find time for seniors to have a visit with their grandchildren and accept that not all families get along all of the time if that family happens to be your own or the family you will be marrying into…