Releasing the past in order to find myself

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Not a good mom

Lately, NM has been pulling out the "I know I wasn't a good mom" card.  A lot.  I couldn't quite put my finger on why that was bothering me so much.

When I was a child, I idolized my mother.  I wrote stories dedicated to (and about) her.  She was my hero: strong, proud, hard working. 

After the mess of the divorce, and in my twenties, I tried repeatedly to tell her how I felt about her mothering.  CLEARLY, she had not been the best mother.  She had, in essence, abandoned us while she ran around.  She kept claiming it was "her time to be happy".  I remember thinking how something about that logic didn't seem right at the time with that statement.   I remember thinking, was she not happy before?  Is she blaming me for her unhappiness during my childhood?  And now I think, is it an either/or situation?  That either her kids or her could be happy? 

Whenever I confronted my mother about her behavior (present behavior, things she was doing in the moment to upset me) she would turn it around and blame it on my "long-held resentment" over the divorce.   I wasn't mad at her.  I was mad at the divorce.  It did not matter that she caused the divorce, handled the divorce poorly, abandoned her kids at the time of the divorce, among other things.  She would. not. hear. me.  She demanded that I treat her like a good mother.  That I give her the respect and "pay back" for all she did for me.  I was NOT ALLOWED to tell her she wasn't a perfect mom.

When I had my kids, she kept bringing up the things she did for me as a mom.  She wanted me to be like her.  She wanted me to "finally" appreciate her or at least that's what she was thinking in her mind.  She never outright said that.  She expressed anger at my father because he said my MIL was a good mother (ha!) and didn't mention her.  She might say that she "didn't do everything" right, but she clearly still believed she was a good mom.  She brought up all the things she did for me as a kid: swimming lessons, occasional crafts, dance lessons.  You know, all the THINGS, that give you the 'love' of a mother.

So, this new "I'm not a good mom" bullshit is unnerving.  Every once and awhile she'd relinquish that she was a shitty mother.  Usually when I had her trapped in an argument and she didn't have a "move".  She'd go pathetic and weak.  She'd start yelling "I know! I know!  I was a bad mom, what do you want me to do about it!!!  I'm sorry OK!!!"  This did not help.  Really, all I wanted was some sympathy for my childhood.  For her to hear my side of the story.  I did not need a "confession".

She has implied lately that some "things have come out around your sister" (I'm guessing in therapy, but who knows.  It could just be some "heart to heart" conversations.) that have "indicated" to her that "some of the "mistakes"" she made as a mom "might" have contributed to pain in my life.  Maybe.  Sort of.  Little stupid things she may have done.  One that ONE bad day.   Right.   I'm curious too as to why, after YEARS of me trying to tell her this, she's "suddenly" seeing the light.

My guess is that she isn't seeing the light.  In the past few conversations, she's mentioned "I know I wasn't the best mom."  And it makes the hair on my neck stand up.  There is something fishy about it.  First and foremost, she never really makes admissions about WHAT she did that was shitty.  Just "some stuff".  She never really apologizes....although she said she "was not asking for my forgivenss" which means that is exactly what she wants.  (And let's not forget the fact that she is CONTINUING to do the things she did to me as a kid.  Her behavior has not been reflected on and has not changed.)

I couldn't figure out what her angle was in telling me the bad mom story.  Pity?  To look like a victim?  To disarm me?  Make me feel guilty?

It just occurred to me it's most likely a trap.  Because really, I'd LOVE to say, "YUP.  You were a horrible mother.  And you continue to be."  And I couldn't figure out what was holding me back from telling her the truth.

It's because it's a trap.  If I saw that, she'll be able to play the vicitim.  She'll have me "anger" and "resentment" at her being a bad mom as an excuse to deflect from the real reason for my anger.  That she is treating me and my sons horribly.  That she is continuing to play the same old bullshit games.  I can only imagine the rage and tirade and pity party she will throw herself if I dared actually agree with her. 

She's laying out bait, hoping I'll bite, so she can bite back.  No thanks.  I think I'll pass.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Depressions Shadow

A friend told me last week about "living in the shadow of depression."

Lately, I've been living in NM's shadow.  It started around February, when she started hassling me to come visit.  As usual, she had to create issues and try to impose herself into "family" situations, instead of arranging a visit that would work for both of us. 

During the visit, NM created a situation in which she offered to "exchange secrets" with my son and not "tell on him" for breaking a lamp (in exchange, she told him that he couldn't say that she'd accidentally let him see some gifts I had stashed away for him for Valentine's Day.)  She felt like they were bonding.  I felt like she'd taught him to not tell someone when he'd done something wrong, as long as he "fixed" it.  That it was OK to keep secrets from his parents and to exchange secrets.  This bothered me IMMENSELY.  And I made sure to address it. 

Then, NM drummed up some drama over my sister.  See this post for details on this situation.  Basically, NM whined and cried about how our estrangement is so hard on HER.  She gave little sympathy to me.  She often has been insensitive and unfair, detailing my sister's life to me and refusing to allow me space from NSIS by constantly talking about her to me. 

Also, during this time, NM seized on a situation to try and "cement" a bond with my younger son by coming to his "rescue" when he was upset over a lost toy.  She did this by sending alternative toys for him, hoping he'd pick one and she'd be the hero. She had not real concern for my son, or me, or how we were dealing with things.  She had no confidence in me, as his mother, to deal with the problem.  She never asked about my son or how he was doing, but kept sending things and telling me how hard the situation was on HER.   Also, in the process, she purposely left out giving toys to my older son, and in the second "shipment" sent him only a pair of pants.  He is still in preschool and was, in my mind, understandably hurt.

My older son was NM's obsession when he was born.  Seriously.  She over bought, over spent, and over did everything, despite my protests (and then I just started putting things directly into a donation box.)  She was completely over indulgent (material wise) and was desperate to be important to my son.  She way over did things.  And she actually had all of his love.  If it was his love she wanted, she didn't need to look for it, or buy it, or coerce it.  She just had to accept it.  And she didn't. 

When he got older, and my younger son was born, OS began to fall out of favor.  She started to create situations in which she could then "correct" him (showing him tons of toys and then chastising him for being greedy when he pointed out a bunch of things he liked.  He was three or four at the time.  Another time, he was upset I was leaving the house for a few minutes.  NM "misheard" him say something negative to me and tried to reprimand him for that.).  It seemed that he was being pushed out of NM's "heart" to make room for my "new and improved" source of NS for her,  my younger son.  You could almost see NM trying to find reasons to favor my younger son.

When she sent the first box, with extra stuff for my younger son, I talked about it with my OS and let it go.  When it happened again, I addressed NM about it.  She told me it "figured he'd keep track."  As if it was my son's fault for noticing she was being unfair.  She laughed it off. 

It was so disturbing to me that she would slight one kid in order to make the other feel "special".  Not only did it not make my younger son special, but it made him feel bad.  It created a bad feeling around the situation.  It should me that, in NM's warped brain, it order to "feel special" someone else has to feel "less special".  Or not special at all. 

NM kept chalking it up to feeling "badly" for my younger son.  And just wanting him to have "special grandparent moments".  Really, she just likes the NS from my younger son.  He's still a toddler, still little, still squishy.  My older son has started to develop that pesky individual personality that NM seems to loathe.  The whole thing smacks of my childhood.  Treating me less, in order to make my sister feel special.  Offering me up things and then criticizing me for taking them.  Favoring one of the other and creating jealousy and resentment.  Not being fair, but always making the appearance of being fair.  In NM's mind she IS being fair to my OS, because he "got stuff too" when he was YS's age.   It doesn't occur to her, that at 5 years old, he should still expect to "get stuff too".  That he shouldn't be denied, so that NM can pretend my YS is an only child.

NM, a few days ago, snuck in another dig.  I'd told her a story (the ONE time I've talked to her on the phone in the last six months.  And in trying to change the subject, I told her an endearing story about my YS).  After the phone call, I got SIX more texts from NM (I had been pushing to get off the phone.  She later said she was "sorry to get off the phone early" and so was continuing the conversation.  In one text, she told me "your stepfather loves OS, but he has a real soft spot for YS."  WTF!!!?!  How am I suppose to take that, especially as his mother.  She doesn't seem to understand (or maybe she does) that she's basically saying they like YS better.  (And again, it would never be OK to favor one, but YS is favored purely because he's still little and not a threat to NM's fragile ego yet.)

Last night, NM started up again, trying to push for ideas for my YS's birthday.  In our phone call the other day, she had been so negative, so bitter, so gossipy.  She made some comment about how she "couldn't spend all her leisure time being a grandma" and so appreciated ideas for his birthday.  I tried to remember that, in the end, this was about my son, so if I could offer up a few ideas, so be it.  She then created drama by purposefully being vague about what she was getting (and since I had something similar or the same, I was trying to get out of her what she was getting).  I was already annoyed when she emailed "Of course, I'm sure OS will get his nose out of joint about" YS getting the gift.  She said she "felt bad" because YS doesn't get the same amount.  She wished she "could have more one on one time" with YS.  Again, she clearly doesn't get my point about being fair.  I came unglued.  I was so pissed off by this point.  How dare she AGAIN criticize my son for situations that SHE is creating.  I told her that she was unfair.  That she was not being equal.  I told her to knock it off. 

I woke up this morning to a message that completely dogged the point.  She somehow whined about "how much harder" it is to be fair as a grandmother than mother (REALLY?!  Because I don't remember her being fair at all.  And this was the NM who, just weeks ago, was lamenting all of the horrible things she did to drive a wedge between NSis and me.  Unfairness would be up at the top of that list.)  She blamed it on my stepsiblings being competitive and jealous and that she was "projecting" that on to us.  But she "had to stop and tell myself that we don't do that."  WE?!  I'm at a loss here.  She said that she "appreciated the feedback".  Like I'm giving her directions on the job.  And that she often doesn't know when she's "not being fair".  Well, considering this is the fucking third or fourth conversation about it, you'd think she'd get it by now. 

I'm so over it. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Same is Ever

I think ACoNs have a sixth sense about when the narcs will circle.  Really, it's not a sixth sense, but an incredible ability to "feel" the storm coming before it hits.  Much like you can feel a thunderstorm coming before it arrives: the air changes, you can feel a "charge" in the wind, distant rumblings.  All the birds go quiet.   ACoNs have learned to pick up on these subtle clues and patterns.  Even if we don't fully realize it, we start to feel a sense of unease about things.

These last few months I've been really sorting through some deeper layers of feeling about my mother.  It was one thing to learn about narcissism and see the patterns, it was another to really feel my feelings about my relationship with my mother.  To get past the grief and  mourning and really have to acknowledge that she is who she is and will not change.  To fully see, without blinders, how willingly she puts me in harm's way to save herself.  How completely she disregards me as if I was completely invisible.  A specter, a ghost that she thinks she sees, but really has no ability to see me as a real person. 

Some of this has been triggered by events in my life and finally seeing how emotionally unavailable she is to me.  Some of it has been triggered by, finally, reading the McBride Book "Will I Ever be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers."  (I know, why haven't I read it before?  Really, though, I think that it is more helpful now than it would've been if I'd read it first.)

Some of it has been triggered by my mother's behaviors.  She has been, not so subtly, referencing my sister over and over.  She brings her up in almost every conversation of length we have.  Not directly, but just casual, "oh, your sister talked to so and so."  Or including me in "group texts" that also include her.  Most recently, she sent me a picture of my sister's new couch.  Considering my sister and I have not spoken to each other in two years, this text was completely inappropriate in that context.   When I didn't respond, she sent another text, saying she'd "sent the wrong picture" of the couch.  What in the world did she expect me to say to that?

For those of you who don't know my back story (and you can go to the bottom and click the NSIS label to see posts pertaining to her, if you are interested in a more detailed version): my sister is  highly self-destructive, most-likely bipolar with narcissistic overtones, verbally abusive, irresponsible, reactive, and angry.  She is thoroughly enmeshed with my mother.  She lies, manipulates, and is extremely reactive.  Any attempts to really communicate with her are raged against, so true intimacy and connection are impossible.  I spent years and years trying to "help" her, only to be completely disregarded, upstaged, and ignored when it wasn't about her.  She has ignored (or created chaos) around the most important days of my life and nothing has every been about me with her.  I have been her support system and I am a "tool" to be used by her, a "resource".  My mother has always excused her and expected me to appease her despite my sister's escalating behaviors.   Because I have "turned out OK" (I don't act out on my emotions) my mother has always minimized and invalidated any feelings.  In any attempts I have had with my mother to address my issues with our relationship, she has gas lighted and twisted the conversation to make herself the victim.  My feelings and point of view have never truly been addressed or acknowledged by either of them. 

This all came to a head when my sister "announced" she had a very serious illness on FB, but then quickly deleted it.  Enough people saw it, that it got back to me, but my sister never told me directly (and "the illness" is still up for debate in regard to it's severity and if it existed at all.)  My sister finally "called me out" after two months for "not supporting" her during her time of need and it quickly dissolved into her screaming and raging at me (she'd been screaming and raging and lying to my father.)  I tried in successive emails to begin a discussion about how dysfunctional our relationship was.  She continued to rage, call me names, ignore my boundaries (only discussing by email), gas lighted, twisted, demeaned me, and then tried to "play pretend" and go on as usual (by asking my advice on a new bed she was buying -while taking money from my father to pay for her "bills" .)  I'd had enough and chose to not continue the discussion.  I was at a lose on how to proceed, as she doesn't seem to understand anything I say.  I haven't really heard from her in months, and that was only a text of "Merry Christmas".  She has sent random gifts to my kids (whom she sometimes acknowledges, sometimes doesn't and who she considers more of an extension of me than someone to have a relationship with), but only to one kid for his birthday and not the other.   All of this seemed like lame attempts to "pacify" me. 

NM and I have had a "cooling off" lately (mainly on my end) where I have remained detached in our communications.  I'm not ignoring her, but I'm not really actively pursuing a relationship.  After the situation yesterday (see previous post), I emailed her to figure out her schedule (and she again ignored that I was upset about something and blew me off, not that I expected her to do that.)  Last night, I got this message: (And I usually don't like to directly copy messages, but in this case, I don't think the true nature of the message can be conveyed without the direct text.  A few minor details have been concealed. My thoughts are in italics afterward. )

"Hey do you still have all those albums(records) from the 70's that your dad and I had."  The "old" me would've said just "yes" and left it at that.  But something in me told me that she was baiting me, and this time I decided to address that directly. And I actually couldn't remember if I had them.  NM gave me boxes of old shit of her and my dad's years ago to "store" that she did not "want in her house anymore.  This included all of the family photos of me and sister growing up. 

Me: "Did I have them? If I did, I still would have them. Why?"

NM: "Well stupid question on my part, of course you have them. Lol  (NSIS) has been buying old albums, and asked me if I had them still and if so she would like a few. Now that was not the best proper way to bring this up, but it is the best I know how. I don't remember what is in the inventory, except the good bad and the ugly.. I want that one, fits me. Lol. I think a (record title),  (band name) album was there too.. I told her I am sure they can be spit up between you two..I am trying to write this the best I can, it is just hard when my daughters are not in contact with each other and I am the root of the problem. Please don't blame (NSIS) for the decisions she made in her life that were made because of my wrong decisions"

So, first, it occurred to me how easily I would've "missed" this bait line before.  How she throws these things out there, hoping to snag me in a conversation and not just being upfront.  And she is clearly aware of that.

Some other thoughts:

Why not just say "Do you have those records?  If so, your sister wants some and can we divide them up."  Done and done.  But NOPE, she has to stir up drama and bring it back to our relationship.  To me, I bet she's been looking for this opening for a LONG time. 

Her continual "not the best way" business is annoying as hell.  Of course it's not the best way.  It's late at night, in a FB message, and not really relevant to what she wants to say.   And the "it's just hard when my daughters are not in contact" is clearly ALL ABOUT HER.   And then she says that she is the "root of the problem".  That's news to me.  She never takes responsibility.  And I don't think she really is now either.  If she wanted to take responsibility, or really discuss this, it wouldn't be tacked on to a fucking message about old records.  HOW is she the root of the problem?  Does she seem sorry?  NO.  It appears to me to be only a "victim" plea.

Then, she goes back into the same sort of bullshit, "don't blame NSIS, she knows not what she does."  This is the same story I've heard over and over and over.  Nothing is NSIS's fault.  Which is A LOT of the reason NSIS is in the situation she is in now.  NM has always infantilized her and never held her accountable.  And I'm supposed to just "excuse" that.  I might add that my sister is in her MID- THIRTIES.  Far too old to be blaming "mommy" for her problems.

And really, even if I accept that excuse, where does that leave me?  I see so much blame shifting here.  So much avoidance of responsibility.  Smoke and mirrors.  And triangulating. 

I thought, for one moment, that she was actually trying to make an attempt to change.  And that sort of sucked too.  After spending years trying to get past her, I wasn't keen on jumping back into that mess.

The whole message left me rolling my eyes.  This, in and of itself, was a huge step for me.  I felt mild annoyance, but not anger, not venom, not bitterness.  I felt clear headed and unemotionally charged when I typed up my response. 

Me: "(NSIS) has been a grown woman for a long time now, and any and all decisions she makes are by her own choices. We are not in contact now because she chooses to hurt me, disrespect me, and shows little consideration for me. Among other things. And it is a pattern that I have hoped would change as she grew up. It did not.

That being said, she is welcome to any and all of the records. I have told her before that I would give everything back to you and that you could then split it up. When you come down, you can grab them."

I was trying to be as "neutral" and "just the facts, ma'am" as I could.  I didn't want to JADE, but wanted to be clear about my position on my relationship with NSIS.  And frankly, I couldn't ignore the situation forever and stick my head in the sand.

NM replied:  "Awwww..., I didn't want this to go this way...and it is really not about me. They will be split..I really do thank you for storing them, and it was wrong for me to put that on you. I really do apologize. .. Not asking you to forgive just know I am truly sorry.."

Go which way?  WTF?  I can see, maybe how she might have read "anger" in my reply, but it is a bit of a stretch.  To me, she is "finding drama" in the message.  And subtly suggesting I'm being reactive.  And what did she expect me to say?  To just "soften" and let "go of my grudge" (which I think is how she views this.  That I'm just holding a grudge and that it can be all patched up with hugs and an apology.  This relationship has gone off the track for 30 years.  And it wasn't great to begin with. 

And apologize for WHAT?  Seriously, this is the lamest apology in the world if she is expecting it to make up for all the crap all these years.  And really,  I suspect she's apologizing for me storing her shit, and not for anything real.  "I'm not asking you to forgive...." Really?  I doubt that.  And "truly sorry" for WHAT? 

Then, she topped it off with this:

NM:  "(NSIS) has been getting help for her choices and life decisions this past year, and I pray she has the life ahead she truly wants. ..I can't judge her for her decisions, as I know as more come out her reactions and choices for her life in the past were due to my immature decisions and how she reacted were different then how you reacted. Not to say you ever went without hurt and hardship, you handled them different. and not to stay you don't still don't have pain...I am not excusing (NSIS) nor is she excusing her decisions because of what I did, I just know things would be different if I had not made stupid choices. I hurt every day to what I caused...and never ever wanted to hurt my daughters or their relationship with each other..I hope someday you reunite. Love you!"

OK, starting from the top of this: NM starts out immediately minimizing NSIS's behaviors and "balancing" them out by saying she is "getting help".  Getting help from who?  The last time she told me that NSIS was getting help, NSIS was just doing yoga.  And that was supposed to "help".  And from what I've seen (several crazy FB posts that were completely nuts) NSIS hasn't changed at all.  And even if she has, she has made NO attempts to actually work on our relationship.  And also, that is NSIS's place to reach out, NOT NM's.    "I can't judge..." I'm assuming that she is implying that I am judging NSIS.  Clearly, by choosing to step out of NSIS's narcissistic reach, I am being judgmental and bitter, according to NM.  "as more comes out....due to my immature decisions."  Immature?  WOW, that's a complete mischaracterization.  You've all read my childhood, was she just "immature"?  Again, sounds like excuses, just for NM this time.   And the whole sentence there is convoluted.  SHE won't judge and SHE knows the "real truth" and if I knew that "truth" (which she likes to withhold, but clearly likes to hint at.  NM likes to be "in the know".) I wouldn't be so horrible and "hold it against" NSIS (and again, she's ignoring the fact that NSIS continually and habitually does horrible things to me).    The next bit about how NSIS just "chose to react" differently and all she says about my pain and hardship feels completely minimizing to me.  Like "I know you had some bad times, but CLEARLY NSIS's were worse.  And so you need to get over it and help her."  It's all about NSIS's issues, and mine couldn't clearly be as bad, and aren't worth talking about and it's the same as it ever was.  This is the same. damn. pattern of our relationship that we've always had.  Jessie's feelings, pain, issues, hardships don't really count.  And while she "nods" in my direction, she doesn't really give a shit about what is really going on in my end of this situation.  It's ALL about NSIS.  NSIS is (finally) doing a teeny bit to get her life on track and I'm supposed to throw her a parade.  And because I never inflicted my "pain" on NM or NSIS, than clearly it wasn't that bad.  

And then NM again references "stupid choices".  She didn't make stupid choices.  She abandoned her kids, put her feelings first, ignored everything that was going on with us, inflicted emotional pain by forcing us to chose between "her feelings" and "not supporting her new marriage"- to the man she had an affair with, and has continued to make sure that EVERYTHING revolves around her.  This was one stupid choice 20 years ago.  This is a lifetime of being a selfish and self absorbed mother who can't empathize with her daughter to save her life.  She has done nothing to remedy things, has never truly taken responsibility, or attempted to heal herself or work on things.

And even though, clearly, her mothering effected my sister, it does not excuse the years of her treating me horribly as adults.  I tried and tried and tried to fix this relationship.  And nothing worked.  I tried to be OK with being completely marginalized, ignored, and verbally abused, manipulated, lied to and walking on eggshells.  And I left because, at some point, it became her or me.  So, yes, I can empathize with NSIS (and shouldn't NM be able to realize that?  That I GET IT that NSIS has issues?) but I won't tolerate being abused by her because of it. 

This last message left me tongue tied.  Several things came to mind.  And yes, part of me was angry.  All I see here is a pity-party for poor NM who was really just a "victim" in her mind.  How badly NM hurts.  How Nm feels.  What NM needs.  And a lot of excuses for NSIS.  A lot of asking me to completely brush my feelings and concerns under the rug and go back to the way it was (mainly for NM's sake, not for our own sakes.)    I drafted several responses, but they clearly were reactive and I didn't want that.  I wanted to respond in a way that made sure she knows that this sort of weak attempt at apologizing (and manipulating me) is not going to work.  And that she knows her offering up an apology for my sister's shitty relationship with me is not acceptable.  It is neither appropriate or OK.  It is complete triangulation and an attempt to control the adult relationships of her daughters.  And it's none of her business. 

On a positive note, even though I am bothered by this email, I have not been leveled by it.  I feel myself responding instead of just reacting to her behavior.  I don't feel particularly hurt, although I am angry and annoyed (both feelings I allowed myself to feel and am trying to process and let go).  Although there is lots of "pretenses" of caring her on my mother's part, I don't see any real change. This is how the relationship with my mother and sister had been all along.  And NM is just working at being "peace" broker for her own needs (to feel good about herself, she loves to "rescue" and to make herself feel better about her "stupid choices").  She needs to learn to butt the fuck out.   I did not feel sucked into her bullshit, although I did feel a moment of panic that she was trying to attempt a real relationship (that fear immediately went away after I read the whole exchange.  There is no real effort on her part.) 

I feel saddened by all of this, but not defeated (like I would have).  But I do need advice on what to say next.  I don't want to JADE.  I don't want to explain.  And I want her to butt the hell out.  Any suggestions or thoughts?  Anything is appreciated. 


    Monday, April 7, 2014

    Call Me Crazy

    So, a situation came up in the past few days that I think highlights the difficulty of being an ACoN and being involved with narcs.  For many, many people, I don't think they'd ever understood why this ticked me off.  And if I told the story to someone off the street, they'd probably think that it is more "my" issue than my in-laws being inconsiderate. 

    My younger son's birthday is a few months away.  I've begun making plans for his party.  I have gotten myself entangled into family parties (parties in which the grandparents and some of the aunts and uncles as well as some family friends come).   I like throwing the parties for my kids, I like doing something special for them, and I like to create a special experience for them.  The grandparents have always felt that they wanted to come (both my mother and my in-laws).  I had planned to reserve the party this week (and pay a deposit). 

    So, yesterday, DH and BIL met up at the park with the kids.   During the conversation, DH asked BIL about a Disney trip they mentioned they were planning.  BIL and SIL had both told us months ago that they were wanting to do a Disney trip with both sets of their kids' grandparents (BIL's parents are DH's parents, and obviously, also my kids' grandparents.)   BIL told DH that they would be leaving the weekend before my sons' birthday and coming back on the weekend of his birthday.  My MIL and FIL are going with them (but not SIL's mother now). 

    So, if this was a normal family, you'd just schedule a different time for our party, happy for their trip.  And maybe that's what I should do.  I could see how I could be accused of over reacting and just making this about expecting them to meet my needs.  One could say that I don't have a right to expect that they would consider my son's birthday when making their vacation plans.

    But here are my gripes:

    *My son's birthday is not a surprise.  The birthday parties are not a surprise.  We have had one for all my kids' birthdays (7 total) for the past 5 years.  BIL, SIL, their kids, MIL, and FIL have attended everyone (as they live in town).  We got to every one of their kids' birthday parties.  We think that it's important, as they are our FAMILY.  We always make a point (even though it is a really busy time of year) to keep their birthday weekend open.   (I should say that BIL and SIL don't seem to think it's a big deal for aunts and uncles to come.  In fact, they upset BIL's younger brother last year by telling him he could NOT come because they had to many "other" people coming.    BIL and SIL are all about making impressions and will push aside family for random people.  And they'd never miss a friend's kids birthday if they thought it would upset their "friends".)

    *Most of the birthday parties have been upstaged by some drama on the part of my in-laws: The first one, BIL and SIL were well over an hour late.  MIL lied to us and said it had to do with her mother going to the hospital.  I found out later that SIL was so angry at MIL for stopping by her house before the party, that she had refused to come to my son's birthday (I'm not really sure WHY being angry at MIL was a good enough excuse for not coming to her nephew's first birthday, but she seemed to think it was.)  MIL and FIL spent the first few hours putting together the wagon they bought for my kid.  SOOOO, we spent the first two hours of a party that was only supposed to be two hours waiting on them.   At my second son's first birthday, MIL decided to invite some long lost relative (because they called her and she couldn't say no) to my son's intimate party.  It served to be a huge distraction.  At one party, SIL and BIL didn't show up until later, as they decided to go suitcase shopping instead (I caught the drift that SIL thinks that since it's a "kid's party" she didn't need to be there, even though he is her nephew.)  She sent the kids with my in-laws, who then were on babysitting duty (not that they did that, they plopped them with me) instead of celebrating my son.  When SIL and BIL did show up, there was so much tension between the two of them that neither one spoke to me or DH and then they promptly left.  They completely drew all the attention to themselves.  One party, MIL occupied herself by discussing the final moments of FIL's mother's death with every guest.  They are generally late, don't help, and always seem to create some sort of drama around themselves.  Last year, MIL complained that we didn't tell her soon enough about my older son's party (we told her over a month in advance) and she'd "almost scheduled something that weekend".  His birthday party is damn near the exact same every year, did it not occur to her that it might be around that time?  And doesn't the phone work both ways?  Couldn't she call and ask US?  Last year, she also tried to get us to rearrange our younger son's date to accommodate when she was in town babysitting my niece and nephew ("oh, it's not this weekend, but the following?  Oh."  Can you almost hear the big sigh.   Apparently having my son's aunt and uncle in attendance wasn't a big deal.)

    *NO ONE BOTHERED TO CALL AND TELL US THEY SCHEDULED A TRIP.  I mean, fine, go on your little vacation together.  But do you think you could give us a call and let us know?  It feels an awful lot like they are not thinking about us at all.  MIL surely knows it's DS's birthday.  Why not call and give us a head's up?  It makes me feel like my son isn't a priority at all.  Like we don't even register on their "radar".  And I could give her that she's just "spacey" except she managed to schedule my FIL's birthday party months in advance. 

    *If this wasn't the millionth time that we have been expected to just "rearrange" our plans to accommodate them, it wouldn't bother me so much.  But we are always an "afterthought".  We are always expected to work around them.  They don't seem to care much about making sure they are their for OUR kids at all.  BIL and SIL suck up MIL and FIL's time all the time (not that I really care, but the point is that it's HUGELY unbalanced).  I rarely ask anything of them, and they can't make it a priority at all. 

    *These people talk and talk about how great a family they are, how wonderful they are together.  But it feels an awful lot like it's all on THEIR terms, on THEIR schedule, and revolved around THEIR needs.  They make no effort to accommodate anyone else (by not "popping in", not expecting us to just drop everything to do what they want, by not bothering to call and COMMUNICATE with us what is going on.  BIL and MIL just make plans, and we get whatever is left over.  Always.  MIL doesn't call and try and make plans with just us, or to see what we are doing.   I know, it works both ways and I don't call THEM to make plans - I don't want to make plans with them - but I find it interesting that MIL doesn't EVER bother to make plans to do anything with us when it is not an "add on" to something else she is doing.)

    *And this one is a bit petty, because I really don't WANT to go with them....but I thought it was interesting they'd plan a "family Disney trip" and not even bother to see if we wanted to go.  Our kids are the exact same ages.  And they are they only grandkids of FIL and MIL's.  Is it a bit weird that they didn't even consider that we might like to go too (which I don't, but it feels like they are sucking up all of FIL and MIL"s resources for their own kids, and not thinking about our kids at all.  Again, I'd rather cut off my pinkie finger than vacation with MIL, but they don't seem to think about our feelings.)  And while I could expect that from BIL and SIL and not think too much of it, why has MIL not said anything about the trip to us?  (And for the record, MIL and FIL had to pay their own way and had to split the cost of the condo and trip.  It also is not a coincidence, in my book, that SIL's birthday happens to fall during the same week.  I'm guessing she and BIL plan to sneak away and leave the kids with the "babysitters".   SIL and BIL have always used their parents as "nannies" and depend on them to take the kids a lot. )   MIL and FIL are both retired and don't have tons of funds...I can't imagine they'd want to travel to Disney again.  Like I said, it's petty, because I don't want to go with them, but I find it messed up that the whole family would pack up and do a "family trip" over the top of my son's birthday. 

    So, maybe I'm being petty.  Maybe I'm being ridiculous.  Maybe it's not a big deal to move it to another weekend.  I guess I'm just so sick of the chaos they seem to create around every party.  Is it that hard?  Are their nephews and grandsons so unimportant that they don't even think about it?  Am I being ridiculous or are they just truly selfish people?

    For the record, DH said fuck them this time.  If they can't make an effort, than we will plan the party without them.  I was a bit surprised, but am feeling glad that he can finally see through this bullshit.  It's not a huge thing, but it the continual disregard for us at all that drives me crazy.  It is this pattern of them not making us a priority.  I don't need it all the time.  I don't need to "be in control".  But it would be nice if someone consider us at all.  If we weren't just "scenery" they move around at will.  It's so very subtle and I could be considered over reacting, but I just can't shake that we don't really matter at all.