Monday, September 5, 2011

I have a bitter taste in my mouth

I've lived in or around Wichita, KS since January of 1984. In that time, there have been 26 Christmases, 26 Thanksgivings, countless birthdays, 2 weddings (plus 1 reception), two baby showers (one for Amy and one for Shaun/Jenny), and many other events.

I have (had) six siblings. After the death of my oldest sister in 2001, that leaves five siblings. Most of them have lived in or around the Kansas City area during this whole time (Kris lived in CA and WA for several years, then western KS, and then in Wichita for a while) and they each have children. If they had a birthday party for their children, and my kids were invited - we went. If one of them had Thanksgiving dinner, and we were invited - we went unless we were absolutely unavailable (out of town or sick). If there was any kind of family celebration (be it Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day or Labor Day cookout) - and we were invited - we went. Christmas morning at my house was a flurry of activity - hurry up and open presents so we could get on the road to KC, no matter the weather or our financial situation. If I wanted my kids to have a birthday party with their cousins, we packed up the stuff and drove to KC to do it. It's roughly 3-4 hours one way (depending on the speed limit and how many stops you make), plus toll charges (currently over $15 round-trip), plus at least one tank of gas for the round trip. It's the same amount of time and money for me to drive it as it would be for those coming from KC to drive it. Do they think that I LIKE the distance? Or the money it costs?

Want to know how many weddings we’ve driven to KC and/or Topeka for? One got married in New Jersey so that was a "no" (but Amy went). One got married in Vegas so that was a "no" (that was a 2nd wedding that no one was invited to; we didn't make it to the first one but I don't remember why). One got married in Topeka, which I attended. One got married in KC, which I attended. None of the others are married.

Baby showers? Amy and I have been to most of them. We've missed Brandy's (Kris’ daughter) but we were unavailable for that one. I spear-headed one for my Topeka niece who lived in England at the time and we surprised her mom with a Web cam shower so she could see and participate in the activities (Amy and I both attended). I did miss my nephew’s 2nd baby shower but attended the first one (Amy and I both attended). Amy’s baby shower (for Isaiah in 2003) and Jenny’s baby shower (for Alexander in 2007) were held in KC so people could/would come.

Want to know how many times someone from MY family has been to my house (or Wichita)?
  • Oldest brother (lives in KC) - never to my house but came to Amy's first wedding in 2003
  • Deceased sister - twice (her youngest son and his family came to Amy's wedding reception in August 2010 because Amy had been to their NJ wedding; they live in KC)
  • Next brother (Topeka) - more times (maybe 5) but he also stayed with us for a while one winter while he was working a job in Wichita and came to Amy's first wedding (but his wife did not)
  • Younger brother (Bonner Springs) - this one is harder but I'm thinking twice - once for my 50th birthday and once for Amy's wedding in 2003
  • Next younger sister (lives in KC; the one who now doesn't speak to me) - once when we lived in Wichita, Amy's 2003 wedding, my 50th birthday, and one other time to see our new house (but my BIL's sister lived less than a mile away and they actually came to town to see her)
  • Youngest sister (Kris - lives in KC) - more times than I can count. Kris is the one that I could always count on to come no matter what the celebration was. She's come for Christmas dinner (after our kids were grown), Thanksgiving dinner, Amy's graduation for her BS and her MBA degrees, and any other reason you could think of in between. She's usually who I stay with when I go to KC and she always stays at my house when she comes here.

My Bonner Springs brother was within 30 minutes of my house (this summer) TWICE and didn’t even call. If he didn’t want to drive an hour (round-trip) out of his way, he could have called and asked us if “we” were interested in driving to Wichita to meet somewhere for lunch or dinner (or whatever meal time would have been close). It would have been a 30+ minute trip for us one-way, but we would have been glad to do it.

You want to know what the rub is for me right now? My oldest KC brother has already said that my SIL can't (won't) come to Amy's baby shower because it's "too damn far." My Bonner Springs brother's wife probably won't come because she's got a "girl's weekend planned at a friend's place in Breckenridge; she's been before but it's been planned for a while." Younger KC sister won't come because I'm pond scum in her eyes. My Topeka brother's wife won't come because her daughter can't come (gas is too expensive and they're saving money to go visit her husband's family in England - his mom's health isn't very good; I've already told her I completely understand the position she's in with that and no problem). I've not heard from the wife of one nephew, but sincemy oldest KC brother's wife isn't coming, then she won't either. The other one isn’t coming, because it’s too far to drive. (The next weekend would have been a more convenient weekend for me but I picked the 24th because she requested me to do so; the original weekend is her daughter’s 1st birthday and she didn’t want people to have to choose. Looks like it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. The KC people will be able to attend that one because it’s in town.)

My mom will come if she's feeling up to it (she's very frail; 81 years old and just doesn't do road trips very well) and Kris will for sure come. Kris' daughter (Brandy) will try to come if there's any way she can. But, if Kris and Brandy want to come, and my mom feels like coming, they'd have to bring two cars. So, that means Brandy won't be able come. I honestly think some people are choosing to NOT come because they MIGHT be asked to bring Mom. They'd all rather just assume that Kris can take care of it. That makes everything nice and easy (for them) and tidy. They don't have to be put on the spot if she should {gasp!} ask them for a ride. Pathetic. And, very selfish. My oldest brother and his wife are both retired. What would it hurt them to offer to bring Mom to Amy's shower? Nothing. The one person who has the least amount of money in the whole family is the one that everyone just expects she'll drop everything to take care of Mom.

Want to know who WILL come to Amy’s baby shower? Rex’s family, who lives over 4 hours away near the border of Colorado and western Kansas, will come. Maybe his sister, who does live in Colorado, but she has a newborn so it may be too much of a day trip for them. Ron’s ex-wife will come, along with “our” daughter (Stacey) and her girls (Faith and Mariah). My step-son’s ex-wife (Katie) and her daughter (Shelby) are planning. My ex-husband and his family will probably come from Nebraska (about 4 hours away).

You'd think I'd be used to my family not giving a rat's ass about my children but I was really hoping that this extra special occasion would be different. I realize it's a 3+ hour drive one way (yeah, because I make it all the time for THEIR activities) but I hoped that there would be some car-pooling going on so no one had to foot the entire bill alone. I'm surprised that no one has suggested I have two showers - one here for the people willing to drive here (Rex's side of the family) and one there. No thanks. That's what I've done for 27 years. I’m insulted on Amy’s behalf. It’s not like she’s popping out babies left and right and she’s waited a long time to have a baby so I really hoped people would be willing to put out more of an effort because of the specialness of the occasion. Amy has either attended or sent gifts or gift cards for more things than I can count.

The absolute truth of it is that neither of us want people to feel like they’re obligated or put on the spot. We’d like for people to come because they WANT to. Because they care about family.

Oh, wait… that’s just KC family. Out-of-towners don’t count.

And yeah, I'm bitter about it. 27 years worth of bitter.


colenic said...

HUgs...I am so sorry that this is so frustrating for is a bit insane most of the time....

jojo said...

first of all...I am so sorry. I can't explain family or understand their choices most of the time. Secondly, I understand bitter, be careful, that bitter pill will eat you alive. Thirdly, (that doesn't look like a word) hugs for you and Amy.

SkippyMom said...

I didn't realize second baby showers were such a big deal. When I married Pooldad and we had Wallene it never occurred to me that a baby shower should be had, especially after everyone had attended our wedding [since it was the second for both of us.]

I do know more about your family than most [thanks for the emails!], so I understand your frustrations, but maybe, just maybe, it might be that it is just their thinking that this shower isn't that big of a deal. I do realize this baby is new to Amy & Rex, and years after Isaiah was born to Amy, so they want to celebrate, but your family doesn't see it that way.

I am trying to err on the good side of thinking here I know how aggravated all of this makes you, but it has been so long, why not just let it go and have a nice, quiet, intimate shower with people that you like being around.

They may never change, but I wish so much you didn't let them get to so bad. You are too sweet and gentle to let them upset you.

Mynx said...

They say you can choose your friends but not your family.
I am sorry you are upset by this. I know those feelings as my brother and his wife never bother with our family. My dad was terribly upset when he didnt even get a telephone call on father's day.
Unfortunately, some people never think outside thier own little unit.
I want to send you a big hug and hope that you have an enjoyable day with the real friends and good family to make the effort

Megan said...

That sucks - having to carry around such anger is such a burden. I hope you say something to your family and hopefully get them to start doing their part, visiting-wise.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Hoo boy do I know your pain. I think there's a lot of truth in not doing things that add to your bitterness, and sadly, you gave and gave for a long time to your family without much reciprocity on their end. Now when you expect a little in return, it stings bad that they don't want to put out for you.
I hope you have enough love around you for Amy's shower to offset the hurt.

lyndylou said...

I know how you feel. I am one of six children and it frustrates me no end how I am expected to jump through hoops for them but yet they will do very little for me.

I have learned to let it all go. I refuse to let them upset me cos they really aren't worth it :)

Hope the baby shower goes well.

Bouncin' Barb said...

Deep breaths Teresa. I've got a family just like it. Those who come do care. Those who don't, well they just don't. Hell my husband died and no one from my family came to his funeral. Only 3 hours away. I've removed myself from them. When they call they call. I remember them on birthdays but they know nothing about my life and that's the way it's staying.

Thisisme. said...

Hi Teresa - I can quite understand your anger and frustration over this whole thing. All those years of travelling to your family's various celebrations and you obviously feel angry and let down, as much for Amy as for yourself. Hopefully writing it all down like this will have eased the anger a little. I agree, that you should try to let it go (I really do know that that's easier said than done) and just concentrate on making it a very happy occasion for Amy, even if it is only a much more intimate affair. Hugs to you.

labbie1 said...

I hear your frustration. Enjoy the day with those who think enough of you and your daughter to make the trip and celebrate with you. Don't let bitterness ruin the celebration for you or those who choose to come.

orchid said...

Oh, Dear Teresa!!!
At first, I didn't know how to say for you with my poor English, which frustrated me SO much.
I totally agree with what thisisme said to you. I am happy if you can let your feeling go and celebrate the happy occasion with your loving Amy♡♡♡
Your friend in Japan!!! Orchid.

Pat said...

You can understand one or two excuses, but this is too many. That's all I've got to say is, they'd better send one big WHOPPING present for that baby in the mail!

kneesandpaws said...

I learned a terrible, painful lesson this past year about the complications of family. And trying to please everyone. And disappointing them. My brother and I fought through email and he told me that he hopes I die alone for not making it to Thanksgiving dinner. We were very close once, but events and stress can undo even the tightest bonds. I've had to practice the "no past" meditation sometimes, just to get through. Now that the holidays are coming around again, I am going to need every coping mechanism in the book.