I initially typed this up as a very lengthy caption. I know, you're shocked. And the last part of the caption was: Sheesh, I guess this could have been its own post. Then I had a great idea . . . so in true long-winded, trying not to be format, I made it a post.
My sister Ann, the nurse, posted a photo in our family group chat of her wearing a mask -several weeks ago now. "New protocol" I responded that the girls and I are making 16 masks. (So far only one has turned out like it is made for a shrunken head). It was meant to be a 'hey there nurse, we are doing what we can over here' kind of text. After the responses, I reminded myself why I prefer friends over family . . .
Aunt Leprechaun, my sister in law who is from Ireland and who is a doctor,
texted: "Ernie, are you using a pattern?" Does anyone else find that passive aggressive?
No Leprechaun, I just grabbed a few old, dirty socks from the backseat of my car (doesn't everyone have old, dirty socks in their car?), fastened a rubber band around them and figured this looked about right. Hello?
Joann's had video tutorials on their website. Duh. Then Ann texted:
"Who will take them though?" I let her know that Joann's collects them and they distribute them. (updating: Joann's doesn't do that anymore but I did give some away to people in a Facebook page and then sent the rest to a doctor in California who I was matched with through a website called 'mask -match'.)
Like, huh? Is it me? Why are my family members trying to poo-poo my efforts here. I am not off my rocker. There is a demand for masks and I'm not the only person making them.
I am thinking I either need a new family, or just a different group chat. Right?
So, that 'caption' happened a few weeks ago. Then a few days later, Ann, aka the most controlling person in the universe, emailed the family.
She decided that it would be a good idea to make a photo book for my dad's 80th b-day in May featuring all 22 grandchildren. One kid to a page. "All I need from each of you . . . " She went on to list how she wanted us to each submit 6 photos of each of our kids. 1 with dad, 1 when they are little, 1 when they are, blah, blah. No school photos, they must all be candids. "I prefer the photo with the kid and dad to have no other kids in the photo. Then each kid is to send me a note about why they love Da."
Ann lives alone, because her kids all eventually moved in with their dad. Long story. She is a nurse, and is working in post op at a children's hospital but probably scaled down hours. She admitted that she needed a project during the pandemic.
Um, I have my own projects during the pandemic. Thanks.
My brother, Pat, emailed back first stating that because he and Leprechaun don't have their photos all that organized he was not sure he would be able to gather what she needed. Coach was like: good, you are not alone. Just say no. (foreshadowing/double meaning for those of you who didn't score high in high school English)
I drafted a response. Read it to Coach and hit send. No other siblings ever commented. The end. Or so I thought.
Oh, my response: Nice idea. We are too busy to pull this together. Lots going on. Mom and dad's house is covered in photos of the kids anyway. I suggest each family just send their own notes and cards. Maybe we can do dinner to celebrate at a later date.
A few days later Mini called out to me: Aunt Ann is on our deck with her dog and she doesn't seem mad. *If that is what your niece says about your arrival (which Ann did not hear because Mini is smarter than that), then something is wrong.
We chatted from a distance for a few minutes. She didn't mention the project.
A week and a half ago my sewing machine broke. Boo hiss. The shop was not sure when they'd have time to fix it. Mini got some time practicing her driving on Thursday and we picked up Ann's machine that she said we could borrow.
I called to say that we were there and she placed it out on her porch and she said into the phone: So, I have most of the pictures that I need. I just need you to get the rest and then have the kids send me their notes.
She was on Bluetooth and Mini looked like her eyes might bug-outta her head. This made more sense. My sister can't function unless she gets her way. I said I would talk to her later.
I could've called this post when it rains it fucking monsoons, because I came home to a skunk ass smell in the basement and my son high as a kite. Like what part of NOT IN OUR HOUSE is hard to understand?
Coach could not come home immediately because: patients. Plus the coworker with the fever was out and he was double booked.
I was beside myself and then guess what . . . Ann started in with her text messages. "I am doing all the work, you just have to . . . "
My text to her: What part of 'we are not participating' is hard for you to understand?
I tried to call my brother Mike. He is sane with an unobstructed view of things. He texted that he was on a call and would get back to me.
Ann continued to text. She started a group chat with me and my kids and her demands. I knew if I responded it was going to get ugly. I looked at her messages between my calls to Coach, can you say TIMING? I begged him to get home and address what we both fear is a cannabis addiction.
I finally called her and calmly stated that I had lots going on at the moment (total understatement, because there is also the other thing I keep alluding to that is taking up a good bit of time, energy, and stress, plus I am taking a writing class and unlike her I have 6 kids living under my roof and I DON'T NEED HER SHIT RIGHT NOW).
Here is the thing about Ann. I decided. She can only live in her own little world and cannot understand anyone else's. I am not sharing stuff that is happening with me, not even the writing class. None of her business. I took a pass on her project that my dad would think was nice, but he will not care about all that much.
So, when I said to her over the phone: lots going on at the moment, she pulled her usual scoff, sneering sound at me. "Oh stop it, Ernie, just have the kids find the pictures then." My whole life she has done that, not cared - accused me of being over-dramatic. MY SHIT IS REAL!
Now I invited the principle-of-the-thing into my mindset (hey, the acronym for that is P.O.T.T., just saying) and that was that. I will not cow tie to her and her passive aggressive shit.
Mike called me back. I told him in a voice shaking with emotion things like: really full plate, I don't want to get into it. I know she won't be happy if she isn't getting her way, but now I just refuse based on principle. Really busy. I will not be involved with this. You're the only sibling I can call.
He agreed. I told him about the conversation I had with our niece and I told him I will no longer sit at family gatherings and stare at the floor with a knot in my stomach and listen to Ann badmouth and belittle her children. She needs help. He agreed, although he doesn't think she will change. I don't think she will either, but God help her if she bitches about how her kids don't talk to her if she is not willing to TRY to get help.
I hung up with Mike and Tank tiptoed into the dining room where I was ironically organizing my picture albums. That is one of my chosen projects, you see. But I am not going to halt my project (that I barely have time for) to search for photos that she wants.
Anyway, Tank alerted me: crazy Ann had started ANOTHER group text, just my kids and not me. Instructing them on what they needed to do.
Oh, no she di-in-t.
Even Ed was like, "I am not writing what I love about Da on a post-it note for her to put in a photo book. I can write it in a card and hand it to him. (OK, mail) What am I 5 years old?"
I texted her back and pointed out that my kids speak to me, and they shared her secret group text and she better back off.
Things escalated this morning (Sunday) with Lad. Coach and I are done with the 'I made a mistake. It won't happen again' BS. It was very upsetting and we almost called the police. Poor Curly was sobbing. Things simmered down by dinner, but I am literally feeling like a prisoner in my own home. So, if you invite me - I will gladly come over and hang out with you at your house, oh . . . wait.
Mini and I went for our walk after the 'explosion'. I see one particular friend on my walk every once in a while but not once since the pandemic. I kid you not, I thought it would be good to see her. She would know what to say. Three steps later, she came around the corner. Divine intervention? We chatted from a distance and she offered an air hug, some suggestions and let me know we are not alone in this.
As Mini and I walked mostly in silence, because I was on the verge of tears, I told her: if Ann texts me today and says ONE THING about pictures, I swear to God . . . Mini couldn't help but giggle.