Saturday, December 27, 2008

Where I get my Darlene on...

"You're like Darlene from Roseanne."

That's what my brother said to me when I disagreed with the general consensus that this Xmas eve was the "best ever." Best ever meaning no tears, no fighting, actual civility among parents and our small little circle of relations. We actually got along. Or so it appeared.

Really? Sorry to let you down, folks. Glad you had a blast, but if I never have to do that again, I would be grateful.

After dinner (where it was duly noted that neither M. nor I said grace) that we didn't eat and presents that were craptastic (wow. thanks, mom, for getting M. sweet rose wine he will never drink, my brother a mexican fiesta gift package he will never eat and me a necklace with 2 little girl charms that is so gaudy and so not like anything that I would ever dream of putting on my body that you have guaranteed its return. Nice to know that you have your finger on the pulse of people you allegedly know so well...), M. and I convinced my brother to pull out his Wii and hook it up.

Thank goddess for the g*d damned Wii. Hours and hours of playing this game and getting my parents off the couch and involved apparently counts as the Best Xmas Eve Ever.

M orchestrated the Wii set up, the crafting of the little Miis, the bowling tournament. And it was 100% selfish. Because we knew we would have to linger a bit longer and I honestly couldn't see how I was going to make it without crawling into a corner and going fetal. He could obviously see that too.

In true clueless form, my parents saw nothing, said nothing relevant and were focused solely on themselves: My father's comments directed at all the hours my mom spent in the kitchen and expecting us to lather her with praise, my mom waiting in silent martydom for the praise. A word about the girls? Not a one. A question? A Query about us? No way. Just an acknowledgment that we have arrived and that dinner was ready. Meanwhile, my aunt and cousin were quiet at their seats trying to see through the tension that was obvious to them but apparently no one else. My brother: hungry and just trying to be a good host. His girlfriend: as usual, fairly clueless but sweet. She is usually a welcome respite at these affairs.

Can I just say when I saw the necklace I wanted to punch through a wall? And then I wanted to punch my mom. Wanted to ask, what the f*ck were you thinking when you picked out this piece of shit and is this what the girls are to you? Some tacky charm? Some cheap ass trinket? Is this what you think of your daughter? Do you even know me? Have you ever known me?

I am sure that I am acting like a brat here, but you know what? I think if there were ever a moment when I could, that moment would be now.

It is easy for me to get myself absolutely riled at how awful my parents have been since this all went down. Every moment when they have had an opportunity to show compassion, some love, some empathy, they have managed to avoid it. Every chance that there has been for words, for no words, for acknowledgement, for...for f*ck's sake...something, they have managed to act in the exact opposite way that I would hope for. Every time I see them I feel as if this is something I have done to them. A punishment that they now must bear, a situation that I have created out of spite and because I never really wanted them to be grandparents. You see, it is all about them and I can't help but thinking that somehow an apology, an admission of guilt has been expected from me.

Now, hang on there, m. Are you serious? Is this just an extension of what we already talked about?

Look, all I know is how I feel and I feel like I want to scream every time the phone rings and I see it is their number. I crumple into "Darlene" at the prospect of spending an evening with them. I want to limit any and all interaction with them and this, of course, is obvious and is grounds for more guilt and martyrdom from them.

Ah Eastern European traditions. F*cking great, no?

And here is where I need to pause.

And I need to remind myself that as horrid as xmas eve was, that was how wonderful Xmas day was. I woke up with my husband. Hugged and held. Opened the few presents we bought for ourselves (none of them surprises.) Oh look! A package from vans! oh hey! Santa Matador records came! Oh golly! the elves from Keen shoes must have left this here (rip. rip. tear. tear. hurray!) we do this every year, and you know what, every year we crack ourselves up.

With new pressies on our bodies and bellies full of coffee we went to M's parents' house where we opened (truly fabulous and NOT craptastic presents) and sat around, and ate, and laughed, and talked about the girls and plans for the future and enjoyed each other's company. And simply loved each other. And it was wonderful. I fell asleep on a chair with a book on my chest and a belly full of food. I fell asleep content.

And for as awful as my parents have been, that is how amazingly wonderful relatives like my brother and my aunt have risen to the occassion. I have had shaky relations with both of these folks at various stages in the past and now, dammit, they are my homies. My strongest allies, my biggest supporters. And that is a gift.

And for as thoughtless as mom and dad have been, that is how thoughtful our friends, our good good friends have been. They have surrounded us with love and care, but not smothered. They have asked, but not harped. They have simply reminded us again and again and in so many ways that we are loved and that they are here, as they have been in the past, like they will be in the future.

And that is a gift.

At the end of the day, I am simply thankful that this holiday season (at least the worst of it) is over and that a new year is just a few days away.


Amy said...

While your parents make me cringe and ball my hands into tight little fists, your in-laws sound so warm and comforting, and I wish you all the comfort you can handle right now.

nancy said...

It blows in itself there are people out there who "don't know what to say" and even worse it's your family. I had a close friend lose a child around the same gestation as you and she said the worst thing was the "after". After the gatherings and people just all over them about their loss. The after when people didn't want to mention "it". Didn't know what to say. Pretended she didn't just lose her daughter. It pissed her off. It made her feel like they were trying to make her daughter not exist. But she did. And it pissed her off.

I am glad you had a wonderful xmas day. And although Isob.el and Jo.vita are no longer with you, I'm sure there's not a moment they were not within your soul.

Kami said...

Are we sisters? I think we could go on for days exchanging bad parent stories. I suppose they are doing the best that they can, but they just don't seem to get it right. Your posts has reminded me how few times my family offered support or understanding.

I'm sorry for you not having that much needed support from your family. It was heartwarming to hear you are getting that support from others.

Julia said...

I have a similar situation w/ my parents and inlaws. It's gotten better over the years, but there's still the baby shower.

I happy to hear you had a peaceful Christmas.

Anonymous said...

hey ..just wanted to let you know ..darlene was always my favorite ..i love how she always told it how it that..sorry you had to go thru all the crappy part to get to the good..but..i did enjoy your writing about it have a way with words like no other ..i always look forward to your moments in writing ..and i do so look forward to all the baby stories...and cant wait for the birth write ya,ttyl,brandi

Kara said...

LOVE THIS POST!!! Yes, the Wii saved our holiday as well and we suffered crappy gift-itis as well.

Sorry to hear about your holiday- I've come to the conclusion that most parents are completely clueless- including my very own.

michelle said...

I am sorry that you have not been able to get the support from your parents that you so deserve. It is great that you can see all of good that others are offering to you.

My husband and I do Christmas the same way, "NO you did NOT get me that, what a suprise!" LOL!

I hope that your 2009 brings you all of the wonderful things you have been working toward and deserve!

Sassafrass said...

Thank you for sharing yourself and your story.

Ryan's Mommy said...

I'm so sorry your family Christmas went badly. The necklace though - although it isn't your style, it sounds to me like since it had two little girl charms, that your mom chose it as an effort to reach out to you, to show you that she cares about what happened to your girls and that she cares about you.

m said...

dear Ryan's mommy: I am trying so hard to bring myself around to that perspective. I have to think that it was her way of trying to acknowledge I. and J. - I just wish there were a little more thought put into it. But then again, I could be asking for too much here. She did what she could. And I suppose that should count for something. Thank you for this reminder.

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

No, but when it all got to be too much, Darlene would say something snarky and then storm out of the family celebration and hide in her bedroom. And then one of the parents would eventually come and express sorrow and concern and true understanding via sarcasm. And then Darlene would come downstairs and eat the Jesus birthday cake.

That version sounds better than your family's. Ugh. At least it's over, right? Glad you could enjoy the holiday elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Amy your parents made me cringe into a fist.

Here is to a wonderful 2009.

Here from ICLW...No. 87
The Unfair Struggle

C said...

I have the opposite problem. I have an amazing family who live too damn far away and I have in laws from hell! and I liked Darlene :)

loribeth said...

I always got a kick out of Darlene. ; ) I am glad that your in-laws, at least, were comforting.