Alternately titled Motherfuck My Birthday.
When it comes to my emotions, I go from zero to sixty in less than three seconds. It doesn’t matter if it’s happniess, sadness, anxiety, whatever–there is no slow buildup of emotion. One minute I’m chillin’, then next I’m on level red of the Emo Alert System. The intensity and rapidness with which I feel emotions is sometimes scary to me, especially when I am angry. I don’t know how to turn it off, tbh. If I concentrate really hard, I can calm myself down fairly quickly–but I can’t always recenter myself.
So if you’ve been keeping track, I turned thirty on Saturday. I kept vacillating between making plans or just being low key. As this is a milestone birthday and should be handled as such, I decided to make plans. So, I did a family dinner on my actual birthday. I was probably obnoxious with the amount of emails/texts/FB alerts/etc I sent out, but I really wanted everyone to be able to come and feel included. For a family as large as I have, the response was lukewarm and I was feeling some kind of way about it. I feel like I support everyone’s endeavors & make every event that I can, so some sort of reciprocity would be nice. Right? That’s only fair. I wanted nothing more than their companionship on my special day, but they couldn’t even offer that? Ok fine, whatever.
I quickly got over that and concentrated on the folks who were coming out. Grateful to be surrounded by them, but still kinda hesitant as the day loomed ahead. I’ve talked about my parents (& their tempestuous relationship) in this space before, I think. Bottom line is that they’ve been split up for nearly a decade and my father is currently ensconced in a relationship with a woman I’ve come to respect and love. So when I planned this family dinner, of course she was going to be there.
Prior to the dinner, my mother specifically asked “Who from your father’s side is coming?” She always does this. In those two words italicized there is derision. True, I am closer to the maternal side of my family. Why? I grew up with them being around ALL THE TIME. My maternal cousins and I are more like siblings as we spent so much time together. My paternal side of the family didn’t (and really still don’t) spend a ton of time together. They only get together for major milestones, thus my interactions with them were infrequent. I knew she was asking this question to be ornery, so I made it a point to emphasize that my dad AND his gf were coming. The point in the previous sentence is important, so please keep that in mind as I progress.
I was running a tisch behind because I
was watching SVU wanted to look especially well put together for my special day. When we arrived, my dad and his girlfriend were there as well as my aunt (mom’s sister–this is important, too) and her boyfriend. They were in conversation, but I broke that all up with hugs and such, haha. We settled and my dad introduced my mom to his gf. The polite thing to do when someone joins a table and there are only two who aren’t previously acquainted, eh? I was too busy in my phone, so I don’t know what her physical reaction was. I only heard my dad’s gf make “pleased to meet you” type sounds. They razz me for being all in my phone, so I look up and join the conversation. My mother might as well have been a statue as she sat mute and unmoving. I knew then that the night had the potential to be awkward.
At one point, before everyone else arrived, she just left the table and went somewhere. I don’t know where, but immediately I turned to my aunt and say “Ok am I gonna have to get your sister together tonight or will you be doing the honors?” My aunt basically just said to ignore it and enjoy my night, but honestly I just couldn’t. Finally the rest of our party joins and we start to eat. I meander down to the other side of the table and notice my mom only really talking specifically to one of my cousins. I knew she was talking shit, but the extent to which* wasn’t revealed to me until the next day. I tried ignoring it, but feelings of anger and disappointment gnawed at me. I expected more out of her, to be honest. This day wasn’t about her. It wasn’t about whatever feelings she has about my dad. It wasn’t about acting like a petulant child. It was the one day when everything SHOULD have been about me, but it wasn’t.
The only thing I truly wanted was for everyone to get together and have fun. And they did, except for her…and me. I found myself getting wound up at several points during the evening and I tried calming, but it was evident that I was not pleased as people kept asking if I were okay. And I lied and said I was because I didn’t want things to get even more stilted or awkward. To be honest I was just over my mother altogether and really didn’t even wanna ride home with her. Had my cousin not had to go pick up Ikey, I would have ridden home with her and her fiance.
On the ride home, my mom asked if I enjoyed myself and I couldn’t even answer. I just made sounds that could have gone either way. My sister (dad’s daughter) was unable to make it & I was sort of upset about that. In the past, my mom and sister have always had a strained relationship. My sister has matured enough to get over it, but my mom still feels some kind of way about her. We’re riding home in stone silence and all of a sudden my mom goes “This is just a joke, but why didn’t Tee come? I wasn’t gonna set shit off. She coulda came.” I just looked at her. No you weren’t going to set shit off, you were going to sit there and act like a fucking child because you don’t know how to behave in situations that require delicacy. Actually no, there was no delicacy requirement at all. She just needed to sit there and act like a fucking grownup.
Talking to her about what she does never helps. She consistently does and says things that are hurtful, but when she is called to the carpet, she gets defensive and makes ME feel bad. Every time I try to talk to one of her siblings about her behavior (& get some help), I get the same “well you know that’s how Jan is.” And yes, that is how she is, but I shouldn’t have to accept that. I demand better of her because I know she can do better. My grandmother (God rest her soul) did not raise people to behave in the ways in which my mother acts. She really just needs to grow the fuck up and get some help for the subscriptions (oh we’ve long surpassed issues) she has.
One of the reasons that I am hesitant to have kids is because I see parts of her in me. I don’t want to be the type of mother she is. I don’t want my children to grow up with feelings of contempt for me as I have for her. It’s not all bad. I know I’ve harped on all of her worst qualities in this post, but it’s a vent session really. Deep inside I know she’s a good person, but until she works out whatever the fuck is going on within her? She will continue to hurt people and make them not want to include her in things.
*In recapping the night w/ one of my cousins I found out that the following sentences were uttered “I wasn’t told that [my father and his girlfriend] were coming because if I knew that I would have done something else with my daughter” and “[my aunt] is MY sister. where is her loyalty? why is she talking to them?” What a fucking maroon!