Saturday, July 14, 2012

Long Overdue (Part 2)

Read Part 1 HERE

Over the years, my mother has developed a very close bond with my daughter, partly just due to physical proximity. However, more & more, I've felt that she occasionally "forgets" that I'M Princess' mom, not her. She has cut me down with things like, "Oh, that must skip a generation" when something about Princess is good... and "Oh, she must get that from her father" or "she must get that from your father" when Princess does or says something my mother doesn't like.

Recently, as she has since Princess was 7yo, they were overseas on an intergenerational trip (to Australia this time). Now, most of you know that I signed her up for Youth Cheer (which is through our local high school) back in May (I think?). Every year since she was 3yo (with the exception of the two times her bio father intentionally blocked me from taking her -- thank you to our judge for overruling him), she's gone to GrandCamp. This is a cabin camp for three days in August, hosted by my mother's church. I found out while they were overseas that Cheer Camp is the same weekend as GrandCamp.

A few days into their trip, I got an email from the president of the Cheer/Football League regarding Cheer Camp, uniform fitting, parent meeting, etc. I sent him a response, asking if Camp is mandatory & what they'd be doing. My original intention, as with most things concerning her, was to ask Princess which she'd prefer to attend. I was planning on waiting to bring all this up until they returned from Australia.

I then got the medical release form emailed from my mother (forwarded from the church). I sent her a response, telling her "We may have a problem..." and explained about Cheer Camp. Her email back to me? "... M******* is aware that she can't let C*** down a second time." I said, "She can if she has to... we'll discuss it when you get home." I was HOPING that was the last of it until she got home (since that's what I just said)... but no. She couldn't let it go.

Multiple emails, and some (by my interpretation) not so nice comments -- about my parenting, my parents, etc -- later, we agreed to talk about this stuff & more, when she returned. I told her that for the remainder of their trip, she was not to discuss this stuff with Princess (she had shared the emails).

Then, I sent Princess a message: "I was originally going to wait to talk to you (& Mimi) about all of this, but since Mimi has shared her emails with you, and refused to let it go until you both returned, I had made a decision - you'll go to Cheer Camp. However, if what Mimi says is true, and you want to go to GrandCamp instead of Cheer Camp, I would like you to tell me, in your own words (not hear it from Mimi). I'm not sure what Mimi is saying to you, and how she's wording things, but I sincerely hope she's not guilt-tripping you again. You need to make this decision based on what YOU think/feel/want, not what Mimi thinks.

Things to take into account before you make your decision:

1. This is your, & your alone, decision to make. I will back whatever you wish to do.

2. Cheer camp is not mandatory, but will be an important bonding experience for you & your team.

3. You made a commitment to Mimi (& C***) to attend GrandCamp.

4. Mimi can get her money back if you don't attend GrandCamp, but Youth Cheer Camp's cost is covered in my fees and I cannot get them back.

5. There will be a lot more of these types of decisions you're going to have to make as you go through middle, and high, school. Some will be easier than others.

6. According to B**** (President of the Cheer/Football Association), "They will work on routines and cheers during camp. The High School coach may even include stunting but I am not sure." As a new cheerleader, the more practice you get, the better.

7. I spoke to D**** and she said, "C*** knows you & M******* are trustworthy" and "She's 4yo, the world doesn't revolve around her." She also asked if you were going to GrandCamp next year, and if you weren't, her & L*** can start a "sisters with Grammy at Camp" tradition.

I also want you to know that I am going to have that talk with Mimi that I told you I would. But, before I do, I want to talk to you about my plan. So, it will wait until you both return."

After picking them up at the airport, we dropped my mother off at her condo & stopped at my studio to drop off the chair I bought (had to exchange the IKEA chair I originally bought because I accidentally bought the square-based one, and I needed the swivel-based one). Princess ran upstairs really quick to see all the work I'd done so far. On our way home, we discussed her choices for camp with pros & cons, and I asked what else she wanted me to bring up.

Tuesday, after I was done with a couple morning clients, we had our talk. I brought up a lot of things... but mainly, I needed her to back off a bit. I have never felt like she deserved the title of "mom" (not something I ever intended to say to her, but I had to get it out); that was my stepmother's role in my life. I felt that what she said about my upbringing was a cut-down toward my parents (it wasn't; she truly feels guilty that she wasn't around for my childhood). I also brought up that she needs to remember that Princess is MY daughter... I may allow her to have a say over most things in her life (because Life is, afterall, mostly a series of negotiations & decisions), but the final decision is MINE.

My mother did not grow up with grandparents; this role is new for her. So, I explained that while Disneyland Parenting isn't acceptable, Disneyland GRANDparenting *is*. Princess doesn't need to feel she *has* to spend time with her extended family; she should *want* to. She also doesn't need to be in the middle of things between people who love her; she needs to know that, in the end, at least until she's 18yo, her parents (Ace & I) have the final decision to everything.

I also set some new rules for my studio (it is no longer a drop off or pick up spot for paperwork, packages, etc -- it is a place of business, not a mail drop), for mom spending time with Princess (I am not a taxi service), and for dealing with Princess as a teen and me as the mother of a teen (her school & afterschool activities come first, fun with Mimi should not be expected, sometimes activities need to be canceled, etc). No more rude comments about my parents, or my parenting.

I fully anticipated arguing, yelling, and a lot of crying. I am thankful that it didn't happen that way. There was a little bit of crying, but I really felt that the talk went well; that my mother was receptive to what I had to say. My hope now is that she can continue to respect the boundaries that I needed to set; for my own sanity.

Long Overdue (Part 1)

I'm sure most people in my life are aware that I've never been really close to my biological mother. You see, my mother & father split when I was 6yo. For whatever reason(s?), my father ended up with full custody of all five children (I am the fourth born; there is a 10 year span between oldest & youngest bio children -- EP, DC, JS, me, & TW). My father moved my stepmom (aka: Mama) in when I was barely 7yo, and by December of that year (I was 7 1/2yo), they were married. Mama came with her own baby girl (18m when they got married - my sister, K); making ours a mix of six kids.

Kudos to my Mama -- she took on FIVE extra kids because she loved my father. She also loved us all as her own, which became more & more obvious as the years passed. From as early as I can remember, I called her "mommy" or "mama"... but never in front of my mother. I knew, even at age six, that it would be frowned upon, or that my mother would be hurt by that fact. But, I think she knew anyway.

Regardless, I grew up untraditionally ONLY in the fact that my father was custodial parent, and my mother was non-custodial. That was even more rare back in those days than it is now. In talking to my younger brother (TW) & to my dad about some of this, I know my memories are pretty accurate... my mother had a wide berth with regards to her parenting time, and chose not to take most of it. When she did come around, she was the traditional "Disneyland Parent". My mama took on the role of mother in every sense of the word.

At some point, DC moved in with our mother (I think she was around the age Princess is now -- 12 or 13?); later EP moved out (as an adult) and JS was a handful so she moved in with a family friend two hours south to finish out her high school there. This left my parents with three kids (from six to three -- ahhhhhh). On the rare occasion TW & I would go see our mother (school clothes shopping, movies, a few trips by plane somewhere, etc), my parents got a bit more of a kid-break.

Fast forward to the summer prior to my senior year of high school. Dad wanted to move to South Dakota, but I wanted to finish my high school years locally. We made a deal in where I would move in with my mother (who lived in the next town over) and dad would sell me his car so I had reliable transportation to continue schooling at my same high school (& get to & from a job). My mother bought the car from dad, and told me that when I was 21 (I had an inheritance from my maternal grandmother coming then), I would have to pay her back -- with 9%/yr interest.

Same thing when I borrowed money to move out after I graduated. This, imo, is NOT the way you treat family... but that's how my mother operates. Oh, I paid her back alright... hoping the next time I need to borrow money, I didn't have to ask *her*. Unfortunately, my ex-husband was a huge thorn in my side & cost me over $75,000 (not all of it borrowed, but a big chunk of it, and she was the only one financially able to assist) during our long dragged-out divorce process. My mother was there, again, with legal documents this time -- 9%/year interest, with threatened legal action if I didn't pay as agreed.

During my divorce process, I also felt that because my mother loaned me all this money, I *had* to share much more with her than I really wanted to. My now-husband saw how much stress this caused, and did everything in his power to help me pay her back. She was one of the first debts we paid in full when his mother died four & a half years ago.

(Part Two will continue this story)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Very Close To Home

I watch the news in spurts... I'll watch for a few weeks or so, then stop for a while, then go back to watching. During my daughter's trip to Australia, I stopped watching. Yesterday, I found out something I'd missed: the janitor from Princess' grade school was shot & killed by the cops last week. I found a couple of stories on different local news' websites: This one from KGW.COM, and this one from KPTV.COM

While I am, of course, upset that this even happened (he was always really nice to the kids, knew most of them by name, etc -- btw, he was still employed by HSD when he died), I am glad that no one else got hurt. This could have been so much worse. He could have shot people in his neighborhood, gone to any number of local businesses & hurt those people... hell, this could easily have happened at Princess' school!

So, I post this blog as a reminder to get help for your problems. There is no reason to go it alone. There are counselors, doctors, & support groups that are out there.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Not Just BirthDAY... BirthMONTH!

I am a huge fan of rewards cards. I get them at every place I can, as long as it doesn't cost me anything. I have one for about 20 or so places. I know, there are some of you who "poo poo" these cards, saying "The Government" is tracking your purchases... I say, "Who cares? What am I hiding; that I buy tampons & love Burgerville??!!" Even my mother refuses to get them; choosing to use my phone number to get the discounts at places like Safeway & Fred Meyer (lucky me; I get the reward points which translates to cash, coupons, & discounts at the gas station!).
Well, guess what? Since June was my birth-month, and I have a ton of these rewards, I had a BUNCH of free & discounted stuff that was mine for the taking. I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but the ones I can remember:
1. Free burger at Red Robin.
2. Free bakery item at Panera.
3. Free medium one-topping pizza at Old Chicago.
4. Extra reward points, which added up to about 1/2 off our meal, at Burgerville.
5. $5 off ice cream cake at Baskin Robbins (btw, I asked if I could just have a free cone instead, and they gave me a sugar cone with one scoop - chocolate fudge, baby!).
6. Special offers (discounts &/or free shipping) from Amazon, CafePress, Shutterfly, & others.
7. Free 12oz coffee beverage of my choice at the SB near my work (no idea if that's a normal thing, but, although I'm not a SB fan, the manager there knows me).
On top of that, some of my clients brought me little gifts, too... and most of my siblings sent at least a card &/or a FB wish (my sister, Jennifer, sent a SB gift card, too!), and all three parents sent a card. My mother, as usual, called to sing (which she does HORRIBLY to every sibling on their birthday), and my other parents texted lovely wishes.
Now, here's a story you may or may not have heard before (and I post this because a few people have asked, "Why is it that you hate celebrating traditional holidays, but expect people to go all-out for your birthday?"):
When I was little, my family was poor. I'm talking -- government cheese delivered to our front door, handmedowns, thrift shops, & garage sales not because it was "cool" but because we couldn't afford new things -- poor. There were six of us my parents were raising on my dad's measly salary. But, our birthdays were special. We got whatever we wanted for breakfast (I loved my smom's "bear" pancakes) and dinner (dad's fried chicken was usually my choice) & a homemade cake, and they saved to buy one or two new pairs of jeans, or the newest shoes. My parents made sure we knew we were loved, even though we didn't have much. THIS is why my birthday is special to me; it has nothing to do with presents, and everything to do with presence.
So, to be clear, it's NOT "expecting people to go all-out", it's about acknowledging me, and the gains I've made over the years.