A bully.

I’ve been trying to sort out how to write about our trip. In doing that, I thought I should figure out what makes me most upset. As I have been trying to do that I have not found an answer but instead just got more upset. I’ll do the best I can writing about it here.

Part 1: My dad’s. This part was fine. My dad was good and we saw some extended family. My dad’s girlfriend’s kids came up for a day and I got to meet them. Her son is gay and came with his partner and her daughter came with her husband and 14 month old. The biggest bummer there is that everyone had fun while we hung with Gus. It’s not that hanging with Gus is not fun but we didn’t get much chance to chat with adults. The 14 month old sat perfectly still in her grandma’s lap for over an hour. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

Part 2: Lesley’s dad’s. This was also fine. It was a bit stressful after the dog bite incident but mainly because her dad kept the dogs in the garage a big portion of the day and you could tell he didn’t really want to so we felt bad. We did not insist upon it though so whatever.

Part 3: At my mom’s with friends visiting. This was terrible but not in a vacation ruining way. It deserves a whole different post you’ll get to read later.

Part 4: The bad stuff.

The reason we chose to go home when we did is because back in November my mom asked if all her kids could devote time to come together the last week in July. We were planning on being there at some point during the summer so said sure. In the coming months my brothers and sister committed and we all planned to be there overlapping days.

Parts of this were stressful. The night brother 2 and sister got there they wanted to go for a drink downtown. Gus was asleep and my mom offered to watch them. I had three ounces of pumped milk but he only goes to sleep feeding and had already been up a half hour after we put him down which sometimes signals a rough night to come. I didn’t feel I had enough pumped milk to leave. Additionally, Lesley was really tired and didn’t want to go out. I can go without her, yes, but we get a chance so infrequently I wanted to go with her. We declined which led to a lot of hounding from my family because they all thought I was being absurd about the milk situation. I said I could go the next night, spent the next day pumping whenever I could, no one went out. Cool.

The next night all siblings were there. My sister talked about taking the kids to the beach to watch the sunset. I checked the sunset time and asked for a half hour warning of when we would go so we could get Gus a bath and put him in pajamas hoping he’d fall asleep on the way back. I was told I had a half hour. I picked him up and as I was walking into the house everyone decided to leave right then. When I got pissed my mom came in the house, screamed at me in front of Gus, my niece, and my nephew, and told me we could catch up. Cool.

For the most part we did our own thing. Lesley’s mom lives in the same town so we saw her. We sat alone at the house. My mom took my sister and Brother 2 and his family on her boat but not enough room for everyone. We could go another day. We did not go another day. We went for lunch one day and when Gus was fussy we started to walk around while people finished lunch. They were suppose to call us when they left lunch. No one did. We walked back to the house. My mom wanted to take all the kids to a bird exhibit thing at the library. It started at 3. We got home at 2:30. Brother 2, who was not with the group, texted me and asked where everyone was. I didn’t know so he asked my sister. They all went straight to the library without telling us. We got in the car and drove there and for the bird thing all kids had to sit still and quiet. We sat in the hall alone with Gus. The comment I heard from many people was with a large group you can’t please everyone. Sure. But it just felt the entire time like there was no desire to include us. Gus is younger than the kids and naps twice a day so I get it but still. My sister and brother 1 barely interacted with him. My mom put him in the stroller and took him for walks a few morning which was nice, yes, but pretty much the only time she spent with him. There were other kids around and they are older, more interactive, and more demanding of attention. I get it, but it’s still hard.

The biggest problem though was my brother. Brother 1 is a jerk. I used to think that he was a jerk sometimes or had a mean sense of humor but he is a jerk. He makes racist comments that no one calls him out on (they’re not threatening so no one in my family sees it but in my mom telling a story about how a man had broken in to her garage years ago and was caught on the roof of a nearby house my brother was sure to point out that the man was black and if he wouldn’t have smiled he would not have gotten caught). His homophobia was a bit better managed this trip but I’m guessing that was only because we didn’t spend much time with him. (My sister’s boyfriend though, when talking about taking his grandma home some fudge, did make a fudge packing joke. Sigh.) Beyond the racism and homophobia though, my brother is a bully. He makes constant mean comments that no one calls him out on because they are “all in good fun”. But they’re not. It is exhausting and when I ask for it to stop I am told to lighten up and drop it.

The worst case of this was Wednesday night. Wednesday was bird day so I was already, admittedly, on edge. My mom had planned a big family dinner with our family and her friend and her family. Appetizers were at 5:30 and at 5:15 Gus was still asleep from a late nap. We told folks to go ahead and we would get there as soon as we could. When we walked in at 6:30 brother stood up, clapped, and shouted “Congratulations on finally making it!”. I was annoyed and told him that was enough. My mom said to relax, all in good fun. Lesley spoke up and said, “It is not in good fun. He needs to stop.” Later in the evening Gus was cruising around a chair and knocked the chair over (he was in no way hurt). My brother shouted, “Mother of the year right there.” Meanwhile, his five year old was standing outside on a table spinning an umbrella around despite being asked multiple times to stop.

At dinner we really hit it off with some of my mom’s friend’s kids. There was talk that after dinner grandmas were going to take the kids and parents were going to go get a drink or two. I asked my mom and she said this was fine, happy to do it. Brother 2’s wife went back to their hotel with their girls so it would have been Gus and Brother 1’s two boys. We went home to get Gus to bed before leaving. It was a struggle to put him to bed (tooth 4 is now in and tooth 5 is in the place where when the gum wears down throughout the day you can feel it but not fully in yet) and we were still working on it when everyone else came to the house. My brother dropped the boys off and left – the three boys, Les and me, my mom, and my stepdad were left home. We almost get Gus to sleep when my mom goes to put the two boys to bed in the room next to ours. My 3 year old nephew proceeds to scream bloody murder and bang the bed against the wall for an hour and a half. We took Gus outside and sat with him while it was loud and then sat downstairs with him and got him to sleep while it was only kind of loud upstairs. Once 3 year old fell asleep we took Gus up and laid him down. Then we discovered that in getting him to go to sleep my mom had fallen asleep with him – guess we weren’t going anywhere.

The next morning we got up and my brother was passed out on the couch with his boys on top of him. We went for a walk as they were in our play space. When we came back my mom made a comment about how the three year old was not her favorite person right now. I commented that it was not his fault but my brother’s. She was silent. Brother went upstairs to continue sleeping. My mom fed the boys breakfast and my sister took them swimming, allowing my brother to sleep.

No one acknowledged that we got screwed. My mom said later that she should have taken 3 year old downstairs so Gus could sleep. I said it wasn’t about that – we wanted to go out. In ten months we have gone out three times. We don’t have family close. We don’t have evening babysitters. My mom said she would watch Gus on Thursday. I said no. We are happy to be with him, it would just be nice for someone to take care of after bedtime so we could go somewhere. Additionally, it was the idea of going somewhere with other people. Out of three babysitter nights only one was something we did with other people. No one invites us out. We see a lot of each other. We were invited out with people we were getting along with and couldn’t go because my mom can’t manage his boys and ours. And it was never an option for us to go instead. My nephew has this problem whenever left. My brother knew it would happen. My mom knew it would happen.

My brother does not take care of his boys. He has them part time and often is with my dad (they own a cottage together) and just has my dad watch them while he does other things. My dad exploded on him about this last weekend. My mom watches them and just puts up with it. He doesn’t ask – he tells her. Her watching them means that she doesn’t have the time to spend with us, or my child, because she has to focus her energy on them.

Writing this it sounds so petty. I’m done with my brother. I’m done with his “joking” and his lack of regard for other people. I’m done with his absentee parenting. It comes down to the fact that I was Gus to have good male role models and my brother is not who I would pick. I told my mom I’m done with him. I said in front of him that we will not be seeing him again. This was all before he mocked his kid for stuttering. He turned to him and said, “Wh-Wh-Wh-Wh-Why? How do you like hearing it all day?” When he moments later went inside I asked my mom and step dad if that was what just happened. Both of them fully denied it.

But I’m upset with my mom. I’m upset that she doesn’t stand up for me. That she excuses all of his behavior. That she lets him get away with it. Lesley is upset with her. When I try to discuss it I get yelled at. I feel like the trip was a waste of time and left not wanting to go back. Left not wanting to talk to my mom. I’m hurt but know I can’t have an honest conversation with anyone so where do I go from here? I am giving myself a month break from talking to my family – maybe in that time I’ll figure it out.

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Posted on August 2, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I’m sorry you had such a shitty time on that leg of the trip. I think you are in the right with your decision to not have your brother in your and Gus’s lives. I probably would have made a much bigger deal of it all than you described, especially the attacks on and negligence of his kids. I disowned my brother about 10 years ago after 20 years of physical and emotional abuse that my family all ignored and denied. My mom still doesn’t get it and taught Wallace to call him Uncle. Because it was my step dad’s funeral, I didn’t make a big deal of it. In general, living out of state means I rarely have to see him. Last time he showed up for anything on my dad’s side of the family was 4 years ago Christmas. He knows he is scum in my book. One more reason I can’t wait to move… Some people are toxic and you have to take action to protect yourself and your family. I think the month break is a good idea and then maybe you can get it talked about with your mom. She still might not get it or want to hear you out but it is probably worth a try. The next visit, make it so you don’t see him or she comes to visit you.

    • About half way through our trip a friend posted a thing on Instagram that said “Life Hack: You don’t have to be friends with people you don’t like.” He’s my brother but I am over tolerating his behavior- just because everyone else does does not mean I have to.

  2. Ugh. As if traveling with a little one isn’t stressful enough. Mixing families with different routines is always a challenge; no need to compound it with difficult people. I hope the good memories are what you remember down the line (but with enough of the bad to remind you not to go down that road again). Welcome home.

  3. I don’t think any of this sounds petty – it sounds like it was a really stressful trip. Intensive family time can be really challenging, and it is hard when you want things to be a certain way and then keep getting let down.
    When I lived further from my family, I found it really hard to see them for concentrated bursts, as there was always pressure, and expectations, and often fighting. Now that I see them more often, it is easier, because even if it’s a disaster Di and I get to go back to our own space and talk it over at length (our car often becomes somewhat of a decompression chamber).
    Taking a month of space sounds like a wise thing to do – sometimes, it just isn’t possible to call people on their shit, and getting some distance is the best tactic.

    I think a lot about male role models these days, too, and am much more critical of the behaviour and attitudes of men in our family because of thinking about what that will mean for our daughter. I can imagine that would be especially challenging with a son. I want our kid to have more feminist men in her life, but really her KD is kind of the only one we’ve got.

    • The far away part I agree makes it so hard. It’s a crash course in family bonding whenever we are around. It was much easier to put up with people when we lived closer.
      It’s so hard to think about needing good men to be in our kiddos life. We’ve never had a lot of male friends and now my standards are even higher!

  4. What a stressful trip. David and I both have similarly intense family issues, so my heart goes out to you both. I’d be glad to work out some evening babysitting arrangement though so you guys can have a night!

  5. I totally feel you on so much of this stuff. Part one is the story of my life. I also have a shitty sibling that I really don’t like Ali to be around. I’ve found that finding our identity and boundaries as a separate family from the larger extended family is hard sometimes, and there are lots of passive aggressive comments, but oh well.
    And, I don’t think you were being petty at all. People forget how hard those early years are! You can’t just roll with the flow, I’ve tried before and it’s a disaster.

  6. I’ve gotta be honest – at first we were certain that we needed good male role models and fully intended to provide them for our kids, but most of our options just don’t meet our exacting standards. So we said “screw it” and decided that actually, what our kids really need are just good role models period, regardless of their genitalia or gender identity. So we’re focusing on hanging around great people, because that’s what we want our kids to be – great people. It’s sad that for us, 95% of those great people are female, but that’s just how the chips fall – thanks, I’m sure, to the unrelenting influence of patriachy, which is difficult enough for female-bodied people to recognize in daily life, let alone all of the “nice guys” who have even less of a reason to bother noticing.

    Also, I don’t think you were being petty at all. That sounded hard, really hard. You two survived it with more grace than I think I could’ve managed.

    Also #2 – your brother is a prick. I felt so s/mad reading about it all! So sorry you had to put up with that BS. I wonder if your mom feels like she can’t speak up about it because she’s worried that your brother would have a tantrum if she did and she’d lose access to the grandkid. Either way, sucks for you & your family and super incredibly sucks for his poor children. I was almost hoping that the post would end with you guys kidnapping his kids so they wouldn’t grow up to be 1)depressed/self-hating or 2)assholes like their pops.

  7. Sounds like taking some time off is needed. On the positive, it sounds like you kept really strong boundaries which is really difficult with family b/c family is always the best at laying on the guilt.

  8. Oh family trips. Sounds like something Cherish and I go through when we go visit the fam bam. Cherish’s brother sounds on que to your brother, we both cannot tolerate him at all. I say a break is much needed, it’s always nice to take a peaceful break. I’m sorry you guys didn’t get to go out and spend some time together. We have gotten away from the kids twice in 8 months. Once for three hours. The other for an entire night. Can you guys find a sitter that you can go have date night? Pay a sitter for two hours even after Gus goes down? You two need to have your own date night together in good company.

  9. Just adding my agreement. You don’t have to put up with abuse just because someone is family. What’s stupid is they are missing out on that adorable baby.

    Self care and protecting that baby is what matters. It sounds like you are doing the right thing.

  10. I would have been just as pissed as you. It seems pretty inconsiderate that the whole point was to all be able to be together and spend time, and then you guys kept getting left, even if you were sort of ok with it. That would have been the first part of my frustration. And then the thing with your brother is a lot…my mom does this thing too with my younger sister, where, my sister has such a loud mouth and can be such a bitch to everyone (and use her two daughters as pawns) that they always pacify her and almost defend her because 1) they don’t wanna hear her mouth and 2) they don’t want her to take the kids away. I had to spaz on my sister the other day because she’s a parent shamer who loooovvveessss to hear herself talk…so, i totally get this. I would be so irritated. I hate saying it, but I’m a firm believer in the fact that just because they are related by blood doesn’t automatically make them eligible to be in your life. I knwo a lot of people who would disagre with that, but coming from someone who has no biological ties to my (step)father and a brother, or even my 3 children, my family is mostly chosen….

  11. Ugh I’m sorry. Your bother sounds like a jerk, and I wouldn’t want to have him in my life either. I recently “unfriended” my wife’s brother due to homophobic comments. We’ll see how that goes over when we see them in person next. And how crappy that your vacation wasn’t really a vacation. It’s hard to get away, especially with a baby. I’d be so frustrated that my few vacation days were spent dealing with jerky people and feeling left out.

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