Monday, January 27, 2014

In Which I Am A Mess

My brains are mush, ya'll. I am a mass of wildly swinging emotions, and all I want to do is sleep. No, I am most definitely NOT pregnant, so there's only one other thing that makes people act like this, right? Family.

My hope is that in writing and editing this, I can make some sort of sense out of the information I have, and how I feel about it.

My mom dropped an emotional bombshell on me last night. I love that woman. I love her deeply, madly, truly, fully... but DAMMIT! I have no idea if she is aware of this, but she drops bombs about my biological father and his family when I can't do anything about them. Like the time we went for pedicures. Two and a half hours side by side. Not a peep about anything 'heavy'. On the way home, she starts talking about how crazy busy the rest of her day is going to be. Two blocks from my house, she blurts out that my paternal grandmother has colo-rectal cancer, and it's always best to be aware that these things are lurking in our family trees. Then she basically shoves me out of the car at my door and races off down the street...

A bit of background: my parents married when my mother was 17, and my father was not much older. He was, however, being shipped off to Vietnam. While I was that age, I was working in restaurants, drinking too much, meeting my husband and making bad decisions that only impacted me. My dad was fighting a nasty, horrible war and jumping out of aircraft. My beautiful, feisty mother was alone on army bases far from everything she knew and trying to make a home out of everything she found. When he came back, things fell apart. They were divorced before I was born. My mom never said anything bad about my dad when I was growing up. He just wasn't around.

I met him for the first time when I was in high school. We ran into each other a few times in the next few years. He made it to my high school graduation, but not to my wedding. We never had direct contact, and eventually, my mother grew tired of playing go-between. She announced that if we wanted to communicate, we could buck up and do it ourselves. Neither of us seemed capable of figuring it out, so we let it drop.

Last May, just after Alec's birth, mama mentioned a call from him, but never said anything about it's content. Last night, as we stood in her kitchen making birthday dinner for the incredible man that I now call Dad, she leaned in and confided that she (the inveterate worrier) had "found something new to worry about." "Lay it on me" I belted out; confident that it had to do with Alec and something that we had failed to baby proof or are completely unprepared for - the field is vast as we are genuinely completely unprepared for a LOT of things. Instead, she told me that my paternal grandfather was diagnosed with congestive heart failure last May, and she hates to think that I might never meet him. "Do you think you might need to meet him?"

Wait, WHAT!?

She stirred the mushroom sauce and talked sotto-voice about how wonderful he is and where he is from. She mentioned that my dad has a half brother from his dad's second marriage who is also pretty great. I clutched my son and inwardly swooned.

"There might not be too much more time. Or maybe there is. What do you think?"

What do I think? I lost it a little bit. "What about the part where I'm FORTY YEARS OLD and none of these people have said a word to me!?" Why is this MY responsibility? Do they even want to talk to me? If so, why have they waited so long? It's not like I'm hard to find. "Shame," she said. "I think it's shame."

Some other portion of our family and our evening intervened, and we both let it drop.

I found a wine glass, and made it mine.

When we got back to our house, I started my rant. My poor husband. He of the toothache and case of exhaustion. He finally stopped me and said "I think that you have all of the dads and grandpas that you need." He hugged me and kissed the top of my head. Then he led me down the hall so we could put our children to bed.

I slept like a baby - up every hour, and restless in between.

As a child and a teen who had an occasionally adversarial relationship with her step-dad and two younger brothers that felt like two too many, I just knew that my dad would treat me differently. I had overblown fantasies of him coming to take me away and make me feel special. As a twenty-year-old, I decided that I had no need for this mysterious figure that I knew only through a handful of old photos and meetings that I could count on one hand. In my thirties, I found that I was no longer angry, but I wasn't interested in being the one to pursue a relationship, either.

So. Here I am. A forty-year-old, long-time married, mother of two. A planner and organizer. An avid reader. A novice writer. A teller of tales. A lover of ridiculous adventures. An excellent friend. A massage therapist. Pretty good at making things. Even better at cooking. Surrounded by those who love me.

And ya know what? This is where I choose to stand. I am not going to put myself out there and risk. Not this time. In this relationship, I am the child. I am the one they chose to walk away from. If they're so great, and I'm missing out, they can take the risk. If they choose to make the first move, I'm right here. In my nest of crazy love.


  1. I think it's great that you've found comfort in where you are, and knowledge that the rest doesn't matter. Sometimes, blood just isn't thicker than water, and if trying to build a relationship with a virtual stranger feels like more work than reward, it just doesn't seem worth it. I'm with you on this one, R...

  2. G - I wish that I could say that I had found comfort, but in truth, I am still lost. I felt so confident when I hit 'publish', but I am back to feeling just as conflicted as ever. Ah well. "The point is MOO." It's not like any of them are beating down my door. I can decide to give it no mental energy and the result would be the same.