March 5, 2020

Yesterday - sticking with Beatles' tunes due to speechlessness

YESTERDAY: (click the word yesterday here to read the background story)

I got an email from Dad.  We have been planning a trip to Yellowstone for 2 years.  I cancelled it last year  because we decided it made sense to take the whole family to Vancouver and sleep in an airbnb like sardines.  The dates Curly was scheduled to dance would not have allowed us to do both.  Remember how I struggled with this decision?  (some of you weighed in on my big decision- see link above.  Trying not to regret NOT going last year)

I CANNOT tell you how many phone calls and emails and such have surrounded this Yellowstone trip. 

Dad will only go to Yellowstone if he stays in the best part to view wildlife:  Roosevelt.  We were able to land an ADA cabin with a bathroom at Roosevelt because he is going to be 80 AND he was thrown from a horse in Yellowstone about 5 years ago and almost died (I do not know if I have ever shared this traumatic story where sibling's true colors shone through as if right from the pages of a psychology text book).  The other two cabins do not have a bathroom- similar to camping.  Walk down a path and use communal bathroom. 

Dad decided not to go.  He is instead going to London with Marie when her daughter Lil-Marie' is done with a Notre Dame London summer program.  The three of them will then go to Paris for a few days. 


Wed, Feb 26 at 11:02 AM

I have decided not to go to Yellowstone.  I have to much going on this summer.

I am going to London with Marie to meet Lil Marie after she finishes her 
studies in London,

then we are going to Paris for a few days.  Marie is the only
 one who hasn't taken a trip with me.

Hopefully, you can use my cabin instead of trying to get another one.

So there are layers here, of course:

1. Is this really how you communicate this message?  In an email?  Dad has never been the best at communicating and as he approaches his 80th birthday, he is sucking at it more and more.  

2.  Dad shared in the email that he is doing this trip with Marie because she is the only kid he has not done a trip with yet.  Um.  WTF?  I was not aware that Dad and I had taken a trip.

     *Dad and Mike went on an African safari right before Mike got married almost 20 years ago. 

      *Ann wanted to go to Paris (insert entitled voice here) for her 25th wedding anniversary but since she was divorced Dad took her to Paris 6 years ago. 

     *Dad wanted to see the holy land, so one-who-walks-on-water aka Pat went with him on a Notre Dame sponsored trip to Israel.   This may not have been on Pat's bucket list (or maybe it was) - so maybe he went just because Dad asked him to go with him.

     *Now Dad is doing London and Paris with Marie and her college kid, Lil Maire.  

I called Coach sobbing at work yesterday (2/26).  We tried to think of what trip I went on with Dad.

Me:  You don't think he is counting the God awful Gettysburg trips, do you?  (where I was dragged silently kicking and screaming, but went because he needed my car.  While I was there the first time, my mom and my sisters planned a girls' weekend.  I had all of their kids with me and did not know about their covert agenda.  Ouch.  Big time).

Coach:  Maybe Glacier?

Me:  No.  That was with our whole family and he went to Yellowstone multiple times with other families. 

Coach:  Oh, maybe Scotland.

Me:  Ha.  Maybe that is it then. 

When Curly competed in her first World Championships for Irish dancing, it was in Glasgow.  Dad nosed his way into the trip.  It was an IRISH DANCING TRIP.  Focused, oddly enough, 90% on Irish dancing.  I had my two little girls with me.  They were 12 and 9.  While we were there, Dad dragged us to look at Hadrian's Wall.  Totally could have lived my life without seeing that.  It was a crumbling pile of rocks.  I had no idea that he counted Scotland as my 'trip.'  I honestly did not know that he planned to go on a trip with each of us.  Not surprising, as I am often out of the loop.

I fear that I sound spoiled, but in reality I feel slighted.  In all honesty, a trip with my Dad doesn't interest me.  I WISH we had the kind of relationship that would lead to a trip that I WOULD get excited about.  

Dad doesn't really converse with me unless he is trying to beg me to tell him my kids' ACT scores.  I should preface that with the ACT scores of my kids who he deems intelligent.  The others don't interest him.  You follow?  

He is very tight with my brothers and enjoys talking sports and career moves with them.  He is closely tied to my sister, Marie, because she shares his love of the stock market.  I am unsure if he bothers much with Ann, my oldest sister.  She went thru a divorce, so several years ago he read countless books trying to understand narcissism because of her ex-husband and how the court system fails to recognize it and then sent his findings to my siblings and I.

Ann demands my parents attention and is a constant presence in their lives.  They feel sorry for her, and she gets frustrated with them when they decide to opt out of events she wants them to attend like dinner out or movies, etc.

Dad wouldn't know where I would like to go, if he were to invite me on a trip.  He doesn't know much about me.  I keep as much of my life under raps as possible with my family because I have learned that it doesn't serve me well to share things with them.

I grew up a happy kid knee deep in family crap that stunk to high heavens of  favoritism.  Have fought for years for someone to notice me.  Lived most of my childhood in the shadow of Pat - my YOUNGER but practically-perfect-in-every-way brother.  

I spoke to my therapist, Chip, a few days after Dad's email.  He and I have chatted about many issues over the yeas, but he had never heard me list off so many hurtful family-related episodes one right after the other.  He said the whole thing was very sad.  He asked me why I felt that they so consistently discounted me.  I don't know.  My lack of a career?   My lack of genius?  My lack of drinking the cool aid?  Both Chip and I agree, that even if I don't drink the cook-aid, I still believe want a sip of it because buying in would mean acceptance.  

Yellowstone:  first trip. A few of
the kids did a guided horse ride.
In the past we (Chip and I) have operated with the mindset that my parents are not going to change, so no use pointing all of this out to them.  Now I feel like I need to let them know how I feel.  I have had enough.  I need serious distance and I think they should know why.  I have drafted some notes and plan to visit them to share my glossed over, discounted feelings with them.  Waiting for Coach to come back in town, so he can join me for support.  

Oh, and this is so NOT about Yellowstone.  That trip becomes so much easier without Dad along to slow us down.  Bigger than Yellowstone.  

Baby moose that we
 saw on a trip to Glacier.
(Not sure if I will need to cancel the ADA cabin since I am no longer traveling with an elderly man with a massive limp, which would suck because I was hoping that at least some of us - namely ME could avoid the communal showers by using Dad's cabin's shower).  

One question I have for Dad.  If he is comfortable traveling to Europe, then why on earth did he not bother to go to the east coast to see a single water polo game of Lad's?  Of Dad's 22 grand-kids:  Lad will most likely be the only division 1 athlete.

Coach gracefully/cautiously tried to ask me if I felt the need to go to Yellowstone at all anymore.  (Coach feels like one and done.  I feel like it was our favorite National Park and Curly was only 2.5 yrs old, so let's go back).  

My response:  We are going to Yellowstone.  We are going to have an amazing trip and see a record number of grizzlies and moose.  Shit, we might come home with a baby moose in our fucking car.  (OK, so I was still pretty emotional at that point - please know I will not touch the wildlife).  

Bring it, Yellowstone.  


Suzanne said...

I'm sorry :-(

Bibliomama said...

You do not sound remotely spoiled. Your family is the actual worst. I'm kind of annoyed at Chip, even, although presumably he has credentials to back his shit up and I'm just talking out of my ass. It is indeed unlikely that your parents will change, but maybe they deserve to get a firm talking-to in their smug faces anyway. Maybe they deserve to have an uncomfortable meeting. Have your kids spent time around them? I wonder if some of Tank's disrespect comes from seeing your family treat you less than respectfully - I've seen it happen before. Ugggghhh, I am enraged on your behalf.

Ernie said...

Suzanne- Thanks. I'm sure you remember how torn I was about skipping Yellowstone last year in lieu of Vancouver. I worried if I put it off until this year my dad could be deceased. Nope - just found something better to do with a better sibling. Ouch.

Ernie said...

Ali - ha! Yes, I always hoped Chip had better answers, but he did suggest I distance myself. I did do that, but it is hard to stick to. If feels passive aggressive to sit across the isle from them at mass each week AND NOT carry on a conversation as we walk to our cars. He isn't wrong though. Even this time when he and I did a phone conference. I told him I was going over there to speak my mind. Last straw. I kind of think I cried so much when I got the email from my dad because I think I feel like he is dead to me now. Anyway, Chip predicted what would happen: your folks will listen and might be interested or slightly remorseful, but then they will talk to the other kids and the other kids will say, "No, you are great parents. Don't listen to her. She has always been nuts and preoccupied with middle child crap." And my parents will straighten up and agree that I have it all wrong. Exactly what I anticipate. But I no longer care. Think what they will, they need to know where I stand. My kids do spend time with them. They did just take Curly to see Riverdance. I'm sure they think I am ungrateful, but there are many, many instances where it isn't my kids getting the treat. At Thanksgiving one year at a restaurant my mom let my niece order steak from the menu instead of the turkey buffet. She told me that she figured niece wasn't getting steak dinners at college. Um, pretty sure Lad isn't getting steak dinners at college either. Enjoy the turkey though lad while your cousin sinks her teeth into her steak ACROSS THE TABLE FROM YOU.

I don't think Tank gets his disrespect from them. I think he picks it up from friends who don't have overly involved parents, so he is all 'get off my case already.' He also talks smack because Coach is RARELY home and I am not all that imposing without my backup especially when I am chasing my tail. We have been riding him like a worn out trail horse lately and seen improvement. The loss of the car for a week helped. My kids were all on board with me speaking up to my folks and one point I made in particular caused them all to celebrate. So, if nothing else I am rocking the hero status over here. Something that hasn't happened since I instituted a 'let's beat Mary Ann to school' race of long ago. Me cutting her off in my 12 seater van to the loud cheers of my young passengers was the stuff Hallmark movies are NOT made of.

Thanks by the way - good to know Canada has my back.

Busy Bee Suz said...

*Suz googling how to get baby moose for Ernie ASAP*

First of all, you are NOT spoiled but are feeling slighted and the correct response is hurt feelings.
There is a part of me that wonders if in your parent's minds, they are feeling/thinking that you've got your shit together, and you don't really need them or their attention like some of your siblings do? Maybe?

Also, it's weird that your dad emailed instead of calling, but you said his communication skills were different.

I'm happy you are seeing a therapist, but I think he might have dropped the ball on this one. Surely your parents might not change, but if they at least knew how hurt you were, then maybe they would make an effort.

Does your Mom not go on any trips?

I'm so sorry you're feeling so hurt and sad about all of this....I wish I had better advice. But I can tell you when they're all gone, there won't be any drama. LOL. That sounds terrible, but I tell people I have no family drama because they're all dead.

Bibliomama said...

Well that's great that your kids have your back. And the petty Mary-Ann spiting Olympics is the kind of stuff that I am always there for.

Ernie said...

Suz - ha - good luck on that moose search. We saw this little baby days after it was born in Glacier. I have so many photos. We stalked baby and mother for days just to get amazing photos. It was very exciting.

You are onto something there - Chip and I (and Coach) have often discussed how I am more independent and less needy than my sisters, and therefore need their input and support less - but getting left out of things makes no sense. Pat doesn't 'need' them but at this point the constant flattery is probably like oxygen for him.

I am annoyed by the email form of communication for something this jarring, like why not call up and express some emotion? Tank pointed out that no where in his email did he say 'sorry about this'. Email is his go-to though, it is true. He can be fairly thoughtless. A few weeks ago he emailed me and in my response I said sorry it took me a day to respond but I messed up my knee again and have been icing all day. his response said nothing like, "sorry about your knee." So yeah, I was not completely surprised, but it sure would have been softer.

I do think the therapist might have given me better advice over the years. I wonder if that is in part because I see him so sporadically. Maybe he didn't realize it was so far reaching.

My mom hates traffic and despises crowds. She used to take trips. Now, South Bend to see an ND football game for a weekend is her main getaway - in larger part because it involves Marie and her kids. She has a very dear friend in Annapolis and I suggested she go to Annapolis with me to see her when Lad played there, but she took a pass. Claims she cannot leave Dad, which is not true at all. She has gone to Italy and Greece and Ireland and England with my dad years ago, but she is not big on travel. Her only sister and only living sibling lives in Naples, Florida and my mom has never gone to see her there. She is not big on National Parks and roughing it (which I originally spelled ruffing - ha). We went to Colorado several times when I was a kid, but that ship has sailed for her.

I truly wish I could just shake it off and not let them bother me, but it is hard when you see how close the rest of them are and how easy it is to cast me and my feeling aside. My mom knew how upset I was after they planned a secret getaway while I was in Gettysburg but it was more important to her to please Ann who was going thru a divorce. I kind of shut down at times and distance myself and Mom never tries to apologize or ask me if everything is OK, she just carries on as if nothing has happened. One stubborn woman.

I do dread when my folks pass - especially my dad because he doesn't really converse with me. I have talked to Chip about this many times. At what point am I supposed to ask my dad if he wants to get to know me? I think it will be hard. Especially because Marie is so crazy dependent on them and so intertwined that she will be throwing herself at the coffin and I will be standing there going, "Yeah, they were closer to you I guess." I will have less drama though for sure, because my sisters will cling to one another and I will just do my own thing.

Ernie said...

Ali - OMG - you would have really enjoyed this little tactic I employed to get my kids in the car so we could get to school on time. Mary Ann could never car pool and there was no bus to Catholic School from our neighborhood. One day - must have been after a time change - my kids were up and ready crazy early. We pulled out of the driveway and someone noted that the Mary Anns had not left the house yet. We were WINNING!

From then on, I introduced it as a friendly, somewhat secretive competition. Game on. It was so fun. One day Mary Ann crossed the street when I was putting Reg and Curly in the stroller for a walk and scolded me. "Um, are you racing me to school? You can't do that." I told her I was pretty sure I could do whatever I wanted 'specially if it meant I could motivate my kids to get in the car faster. (Mary Ann's answering machine's outgoing message is: Have a blessed day!, so looking back I wish I had been better prepared or faster on my feet and told her the Holy Spirit made me do it).

I seriously contemplated getting streaks of fire sticker things for the bottom edge of my car. Sometimes it is hard for Coach to be married to me.

Charlie said...

Sending hugs Ernie. This makes me feel so sad for you. I do think you have it right when you say you need to distance yourself, but it’s just so hard/not practical to do. But at 80 (or nearly 80?) it is unlikely to change. You sound like you have built your own amazing family and they are the people who truly matter in your life. It’s so good you have bought up your kids determined to learn from the mistakes of your own childhood.

Ernie said...

Charlie- Yes distance is hard when they live around the corner. And, no - Dad not likely to change. I care less about going on a trip with him than I do having him interested in what I do or what I want to do. He spends hours and hours studying for a bible study class that he is in. It has even started to drive my mom crazy because he is so unavailable to do things with her.

It is my biggest fear that my kids will feel slighted or overlooked because they think I prefer one kid over them. I honestly enjoy all of my kids - differently. They each have their own interests and personalizes, obviously. Lad has always been my biggest challenge and our relationship fares much better when he is away at school: our conversations are less angst filled and more relaxed, etc. I worry that he will always feel that we preferred Eddie. Eddie is just a different kid, who didn't require as much discipline, direction, etc. Ed is self-correcting 90% of the time. (Praise god because I had my hands full with some of the nonsense the others were capable of). Coach and I are also aware that we do not want Ed to turn into the next Pat. Being a division 1 water polo player from the Midwest (not a huge source for water polo players) is a huge accomplishment for Lad and we are very proud of him. It hasn't been easy for him to be far away. Trust me, I was shocked that he missed us! :) When I see Mini hold no resentment towards Curly for being a world competitor in Irish dancing when she never made it that far herself, I am blown away. I assume she is just a well adjusted kid who knows she has her own 'stuff' to be proud of but I suppose parenting had something to do with it. We are far from perfect (ie: I swear like a sailor) but the favoritism crap I try to steer clear from.

Kara said...

On the upside, you and the kids will be able to do so many more activities without an 80 year old slowing you down. Just think of it as a positive thing!

Ernie said...

Kara - believe me -our family will have a much easier travel experience without worrying if dad is going to fall, etc.