Friday, January 12, 2007

Balancing Act

So I have this dilemma.

My Mother (the one who raised me, not the one I'm going to see next week) has invited me and my family to come to Nevada for the holidays this year.

What to do about this?

My gut reaction to this invitation is unfortunately, "No thank you." In short, I do not wish to spend the holidays with them in Nevada. I would rather either spend time with them in Nevada another time of the year, or POSSIBLY spend a holiday with them in Austin. But even that isn't high on my list.

They left Austin two weeks after Hootie was born. They saw her twice as a newborn infant before they left. Once at the hospital, and once when I took her up to their house as they were preparing to pack up and leave. They have not been back to Austin since they moved to Nevada. They claim it is because they cannot afford it. Because they sunk their retirement income into a custom-built, beautiful house in a little golf community north of Las Vegas. They don't play golf. Or gamble. But they like this little town, and they like the lack of state income tax in Nevada. And they felt they had no other choices but to buy a home which continued to increase in price as it was being designed and built. They also have three dogs to board, should they leave town. So evidently, it's a big ordeal to go out of town.

I brought Hootie to their little house once, when she was almost 2. And my Mother saw her at a family funeral in Washington when she was about 9 months old, for a short time. So that's all they have seen of their granddaughter.

After a rather unpleasant exchange about holidays in mid-2005, wherein I explained that we already had made commitments for both Thanksgiving and Christmas that year, my mother tearfully claimed she felt like a bastard stepchild, unimportant and left out, and would I EVER spend holidays with them? I suggested they come to visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we could celebrate a joint holiday and go to festivals and see lights and what-not, but this wasn't received well. If it isn't THE day of the holiday, it isn't worth anything, evidently. I eventually conceded out of pity, and said that the Thanksgiving of 2006, the following year, this past year, was free, and we'd love to have them come visit in Austin. I reiterated my invitation multiple times throughout the year, only to be told they hadn't discussed it yet, and maybe, maybe not. I even reserved the little guesthouse across the street which I manage, in case they decided to come. Throughout the year, whenever I would inquire about it, they blew me off, didn't really respond to my invitation, and of course, did not come.

Further information pertaining to this dilemma resides in my earlier post regarding why I have two mothers, and the state of the relationship with my parents. Holidays with a bipolar individual are not usually easy. My mother's medications are not consistent in their effectiveness, and I've spent many a holiday with her where she's miserable to be around. Sometimes not, but it's a crapshoot. Add to it the fact that there's little to do in this little town in Nevada, and my parents are pretty sedentary, and we haven't got terribly much to discuss as it is. We couldn't find an open playground anywhere in this little town, only the one attached to the school, which was fenced off from the public. My parents have nothing which accommodates a child, and the town has even less, considering it's really a retirement community of sorts. The thought of spending my holiday there doesn't appeal to me personally. If we were to go, it would be solely out of a sense of sadness that these two people are alone in Nevada, with no other children to celebrate the holidays with, and little initiative to make of it something special between the two of them. I realize that this situation is all of their own doing, yet I nevertheless feel sad for them that this is how it is.

As a married woman, I live that life where you go to one spouse's family's house for one of the holidays, and the other family for the next one, being Thanksgiving and Christmas. It rotates around and adjusts when the husband's sister is able to come to Texas and be with us for a specific holiday, so that we can all see her as well. So, when it's time for my family's "turn", I like to go to Washington. I like to see my Mama and sister and her family. Hootie loves to play with her cousins, we get to play in the snow and possibly go skiing, everyone laughs and plays poker and watches football and has a lot of holiday cheer going around. It's FUN. So, to give that up to assuage any sense of guilt or burden of responsibility toward the people who raised me... it just isn't appealing.

Believe me, in having been an only child and having one live in my home, I have put a good deal of thought into how I am going to raise her and treat her, such that she doesn't inherit the same pitfalls of only childhood which I have had over the years. I know that I am "lucky" not to have depression or bipolar disorder, and that I am also very blessed to be a self-sufficient individual. We plan to travel and invite Hootie to join us if she so chooses, during holidays. I think the idea of spending a Christmas with just my husband sounds lovely anyway. But I don't want Hootie to face that same sense of pressure to "entertain" her parents, or to make us feel loved or give us reason for being.

So how did I respond? Well, I told my Mother via email that I appreciated her offer, but we would not be able to come for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, if she wanted us to come for one of their birthdays, or in between the holidays, or some other time, we could possibly arrange that. I have yet to hear back, but I'm anticipating another long, unpleasant silent treatment initiated by my ghastly selfishness.

I don't know what I want or expect from this post, other than just to get it out of me. Thanks for reading.


nejyerf said...

not that you asked or anything, but.... if we were BFF and you told me this story, without a doubt i would have told you that your response was the best response you could have given under the circumstances.

but since i'm just a bystander i can say with great vim and positivity "FUCK'EM"

my MIL and her husband were like that. i referred to them as "toxic people".

those kinds of people are nothing but a drain on your happiness. and you sound like too happy a person to be brought down like that.

i'm enjoying your writing. it's refreshing.

that sounded a little bit like sucking up just then (and it's quite possible that i was!)

Melissa said...

Trasi it is never easy and it never will be. I don't blame you for writing about it and getting it out of your system. We are at an age where we have our own families now and we have to put them first. I am sorry if your mother can not respect that. Your parents obviously made the same type of decisions when they chose the house and location they did when the retired. They left Austin knowing you were exstending your family there. Your response was fair and appropriate.