Monday, November 30, 2009

The "L" Word

I saw bio-mom over the Thanksgiving break. We were at my parents but drove into Vegas late Thursday night. I saw her on Saturday night. She met Andrew's mom and they shared stories. Andrew's mom gave a baby up for adoption when she was young too. It was nice. It's always nice to see bio-mom, really. She's just a really great person and there is nothing I feel from her but genuine interest and care and concern and excitement all over stupid me. It's weird. Weird AND nice.

My parents made a big step forward. They gave me baby pictures. I asked for them in May but I should be thankful that they gave them to me at all, right? They even said, "We have some of your baby pictures.... so you can show bio-mom." Well, they didn't call her bio-mom, but I don't think I should use her name here. It was really great of them to get me those pictures. I think they are finally getting past the denial. It's a good step. I'm proud of them and glad that some tension might be released.

So, I showed bio-mom the photos over dinner. She was happy to see them. She said her daughter had lots of dark hair when she was born too. She also said that her daughter and I had similar hands - long fingers apparently. They're pretty normal now.

My parents also included a couple with them in the photo with me. They said, "I don't know if she would be interested..." I assured them that she would.

They look happy to have me. I'm sure that made bio-mom happy to see. I brought several pictures for her to see including a couple with my siblings and grandmothers.

We were at dinner for almost 3 hours. At the end of dinner, we walked outside, chatted for a minute in the parking lot and hugged goodbye. That's when it happened. I wondered when it might happen. When and if she might ever say it and what I would say in return. I just didn't expect it to happen so soon. I was unprepared. As we were going into the hug, "It's always so great to see you, sweetie." Mid-hug, I said, "You too." And late-hug bio-mom said, "Oh, love you so much." And I tried not to skip a beat. I didn't want to look shaken or taken aback or weirded-out or offended because I wasn't. I just said what I was going to say anyway, "We usually come in around New Year's so we will definitely plan on seeing you guys again really soon."

Maybe I was slightly startled. I just didn't expect it. And the problem is, I am not very open with my emotions. I didn't hear the "L" word much growing up. My parent's just weren't that openly affectionate. I even have problems with it now. I feel super weird about having the whole wedding she-bang in front of everyone. I would rather drive splinters under my nails then have everyone staring at me for a "couple's first dance." I feel that saying my vows in front of everyone is even a bit exhibitionist. It's no one's business! I do say I love you a lot with Andrew and the dogs though. Several times a day, every day. And we sit close and cuddle on the couch almost every single night. But no one's there when we do that stuff. I don't mind holding hands or putting our arms around each other at the movies or the mall or whatever but I guess I have an imaginary line that I draw in public.

So, with bio-mom I just didn't know what to say. I do have warm and fuzzy feelings for her but it's difficult. I don't even say it to my own parents very easily and they didn't say it to me regularly until recently. I think being grandparents softened them up a bit. I need to let this one simmer for a bit until I figure out what I am comfortable with. However, I don't want her to think that I am uncomfortable. I hope she's not worried that she freaked me out. I made sure to email her so she knows I'm not avoiding her. I didn't address it though. I'm sure she wont either but she might be worried. Jeez, this feels a lot like dating!


I knew she would do it. I knew my mom would slip. I think my exact words were something like: "I bet my mom is going to try to forget all of this ever happened. I bet she is going to slip and try to tell me a story about when she was pregnant with me." Well, she did it. She slipped. Andrew was there as a witness. He heard the whole thing. When I was at her place in October, we were in the kitchen and I was telling her that I recently had ANOTHER root canal. You know what she said? "You must have inherited your teeth problems from me." Oh really, mom? You think that, do you? Interesting! How so, through osmosis? Are my teeth 'guilty by association' from just being in proximity to your teeth all my life? I know, I know - old habits are hard to break and they've been covering it up for 30 years so I will give them a little slack. I just ignored it when she said that and kept the conversation going. I'm afraid I won't be able to ignore it if she does something like that again. Not that I would be mean about it, I would probably make a joke. But I don't know if she can take jokes about it yet.... or ever.

Family Ties

I haven't written in a while and a few friends expressed some disappointment at that. Sorry! I've been super busy watching So You Think You Can Dance and Dexter. I've also spent some rushed hours doing school work and am editing 2 books: The Normative Case for the Free Market System and Why is Everyone Else Wrong?. I am enjoying the latter a bit more for reasons clear just looking at the title. The second book actually provides a nice discussion (and possible explanation) why people argue so much, our perception of right vs. wrong, and how people end up believing so whole-heartedly in an idea that truly is wrong (based upon the current knowledge available). The truth of the matter is, there really is a right and a wrong way to run a country, to treat people, to do your job, to interact with others, to raise children, etc. The right or best option does exist, but identifying it amongst all the propaganda and bullshit is the difficult part and those of us who make the wrong decisions get caught up in that. Also some of us are just dumb and lazy. It's just a fact, sorry people.

That leads me to my Thanksgiving weekend. Last year after the holidays I wrote about some vague frustrations I was having with my family. Aside from often feeling different from them and like I just don't belong over the years, I also am in stark disagreement about things that I feel are harmful to the other members of my family. I feel that a lot of wrong choices are made. For example, I hate the way my dad shelters my mom. I feel it has made her weak over the years.

The bigger problem is with my nephews. There are things going on that I not only disagree with but that I think are harmful. I really struggle with this. I am not their mother. She has the final say. But, I could still talk to my sister about it and present my case, right? Well, she's such a hothead that I really don't know how she would take it. I don't know what she would do and then I leave myself open to the severe frustration of giving (what I feel is) sound advice and having it ignored. But I can just deal with that when it happens, right? The priority is the kids.

So, here are the issues. First of all, she has been in and out of a terrible and abusive relationship with a guy for almost 10 years now. She moves in with him and then kicks him out. She has followed my parents to Denver (dragging the kids with her) TWICE to escape him but has gone back to him and to Vegas each time. He yells at her, shoves her and I think he hits her too in front of the kids. They hate him. But she keeps going back. Now she has moved to San Diego (following my parents there again). She pulled my 16 year old nephew out of school to do this. 16 is a hard age and especially for him. He is Special Education because it seems he is just always behind the rest of his classmates. Part of the problem is that he isn't always in attendance. How does she let this happen? And this isn't just a recent thing. It's been a problem for years - started when he was younger and easier to control. So, he was behind in school by Nevada standards and California is ahead of Nevada so that makes him even further behind. I don't know if he will graduate. Andrew helps him sometimes but he lacks even the basic math fundamentals. There is only so much we can do to help. While we were there helping, the younger one (10 years old) showed us his tests and homework and he does well, thankfully. I asked the 10 year old if his mom has looked at these. He said "no." I asked if she ever sees his tests or homework. He said "no." Her older son might not graduate in time, if at all and she hasn't decided to pick up the habit of looking at her kids' homework? WTF?

And on a personal note... the 16 year old thinks that his dad is his biological father, but he is not. The 10 year old's dad adopted him when he was little and married my sister. He doesn't remember it. Well, my sister's charming boyfriend got mad at her one day and in order to hurt her, he hurt my nephew. He called him and told him, "Your mom used to be a drug addict and did terrible things. Your dad isn't your real dad. Your real dad is some black guy your mom met at rehab." All of those things are true. And of course, my nephew asked my sister about it and she denied it. He asked my parents about it too and they denied it. But it's quite clear he doesn't look like his dad. His bio-dad was 1/2 black so he is 1/4 black and does have darker skin then the rest of us. I want to tell him the truth. I told him about me so he knows that my family likes to lie. He brought up the discussion with me a year or two ago when he caught his mom in some lies. We talked about it on the phone for an hour. He even ignored his girlfriend's beeps during that discussion - so you know he was seriously upset!

On Thanksgiving day something else was discovered. My nephew has started smoking. Terrible, right? How did my sister let this happen, right? Well, the worst part of it is his asthma is so bad, he uses a breathing machine several times per week. So, his health is in immediate danger. I asked my mom and my sister how this happened. They had already known about it. I asked, "What is being done about this? Doesn't anyone care?" I got a bit of silence and then my sister got defensive, "We're working on it. Yes it is a big deal, we ARE working on it." Me: [sigh, pause] "Fine" [exit kitchen left]. I need to have a talk with him about it and it's that simple. I just need to figure out what I will say. If I were his mom, he would be cut off so completely from everything enjoyable until he stops, he would be completely miserable. Christmas would be effing canceled. No joke. The whole scenario on Thanksgiving day culminated with, "We have known he was smoking for a while but he didn't want you to know because he was embarrassed. He didn't want you to be disappointed." Oh, so let's not tell me about it. Let's make hurting himself as comfortable as we can for him! WTF??????

I will form a conversation in my head about the smoking ASAP but I don't know what to do about the bio-dad stuff for him. I think I just need to tell my sister, "Look, he's talking to me about it. I am going to tell him the truth the next time he brings it up because I know how bad it sucks to be lied to about it. I thought I should let you know in case you want to tell him yourself." I'm working up the nerve to do it. It's only a matter of time. The bio-shit is about to hit the fan again in my family. I'll get my umbrella ready.