I REALLY should be studying for final exams right now. I do have three this week that I'm NOT toooooo worried about, content-wise. I know the material, I'm confident I'll be fine with these three. There will be two next week that this coming weekend will be devoted to studying for. Although I'm likely fine, the over-achieving side of me is thinking, 'I am NOT finished until I turn in my last final exam...'
I came home from school today (we had a snow day yesterday) with intentions to open up a book and start cramming as much information as possible into my brain - but said brain has other things swimming around.
It's nothing major. I've just managed to do again what I do best: disappoint my mother.
Many of you already know that two years ago, I moved 2 hours away from where she lives. Yes, 'that's all.' If you let my mother describe it, you'd think I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast. STATES away. A plane ticket rather than a car drive shorter than the time it'd take for me to attend 2 classes. That's all, indeed. I am still close enough that she can hop into the car and come visit, ANYTIME she wants. She has a bedroom in my house, for pete's sake. I'm also close enough that I could drive to either her house or my sisters' houses - and I do, whenever one of their kids has a birthday or there's a baptism. It's not enough, though, for the Oompa. She will CONSTANTLY complain that she doesn't see us, but that's not entirely our fault. Her days are spent babysitting for one of my sister's kids, or she's traveling to some foreign country. When she does make it here, she has to 'hurry back' because someone back home needs her. Her visits are rushed, and when In one breath, she'll say 'well you moved 2 hours away, so that's hard!' and other times, she'll say, 'you're only 2 hours away, why don't you come visit your Mama?' Sometimes I wish I HAD moved to Colorado, if not for the pure gorgeousness of the state, then for the elimination of how EASY it really is to visit with one another, and additionally, how EASY it is for my sisters to do the same fucking thing. Since I've lived here, they've BOTH been to my house, a total of two times - for a housewarming, and for the Son's graduation. That's it. It's been me who's made the (same) trip to go to them/their events every other time. Me who makes the extra effort. Me, who bends like a pipe cleaner.
And yes - a side note here - part of the reason for my move was because my ex was first to move - when we divorced, we made the mutual agreement that we would never move the kids more than a 20-30 minutes' drive from their other parent. And let me be clear on one other thing: we BOTH agreed we wanted to be FAR away from the city. City life had been all I'd known. The wasband, as a child, had a taste of country living and preferred it, so it was both of our decision to move to the same town in Pennsylvania. We'd share custody of our children, we'd both have new homes, we'd all be starting a new chapter. I think that's one source of excitement for me; I'd always been a New Yorker, and the idea of being in an entirely new place was highly appealing. I also admit, there being a distance from where the Oompa lives was an added benefit.
For me, though. For her, though - it's always been a problem. It's a problem especially during the holidays, when she STILL has old traditions on the brain, and STILL wants all three of her daughters and all of her grandchildren present on Christmas Eve. When we ALL lived in New York, she would host, and everyone would gather at her house. Now, her house is 'smaller.' Our families have grown, now. Both of my sisters are now married, with children, and a set of in-laws, each. They (Oompa, and my two sisters and their families) live all within a 20 minute radius of each other - and I'm (along with the wasband, who because of our 'other' agreement, to spend holidays together with our children) 2 hours away. As stated before, it's not terrible, but Oompa does make it out to be more complicated.
Christmas Eve is also J's birthday. My wifey, up until a couple years ago, has been a good sport enough to join us all at Oompa's gatherings. This year, she'll be spending her birthday and Christmas with her family in Massachusetts.
The wheels started turning in Oompa's head, as soon as she heard that. It might have been in February or March of this year; J announced that she was going to be spending her birthday and Christmas with her parents and sisters and nieces and nephews in New England. I suppose she wanted to give us all time to get used to the idea...
First, she said she wanted to host Christmas Eve at her house. We all told her that her two-bedroom, one-story house in a retirement community was too small for 18 people to sit comfortably. Even her house before this one was too small. She must have heard the same from my sisters, because recently, her story changed.
"Your sister wants to host Christmas Eve at her house."
My sister's house is a bit bigger, and more accommodating. I did say, though, (and it might have been at the same time as J's announcement that she'd be spending Christmas with her family) that I wanted to stick to my new tradition of Christmas Eve at my house - it was simply easier for me to take care of my immediate family - the Oompa was, of course, invited as well as my sisters and their families. This will be my third Christmas in my new home - they've not yet made it out for a single one. The first year, the middle sister was pregnant....the drive would be too much for her. "So, let her husband drive," I said. "Oh, but he's allergic to cats...and you have five of them." It was dropped, with 'maybe next year.'
And then the second year, there was the excuse that "the baby isn't good in the car..." along with, "what if it snows....we'd be stuck there, and they have plans for Christmas Day....nobody wants to risk getting stuck TWO HOURS AWAY (her favorite line) on Christmas..."
I've given up on them coming for any holiday. How could I expect that, when they've combined, visited me four times in two and a half years? My mother, though - did come last year for Christmas Eve, and made it home on Christmas morning in LESS than 2 hours. She's seen for herself that her coming here for Christmas Eve is NOT as complicated as she makes it out to be - she could be with the other two and all of the younger grandbabies on Christmas Day...everyone's happy, right?
No. I guess not. Because the Oompa is NEVER happy!
I reminded her that I was planning to do Christmas Eve at my house, and that to deviate from that plan would cause stress between me and the wasband - as our agreement was that we spend holidays with our children. Christmas Eve at my house, Thanksgiving and Christmas at his house. Whenever there's Easter, he does that at his house, too, but that's not even really considered a 'holiday' to me - it's just another excuse to eat food that I haven't cooked! She asked (even though she knows the answer) why he couldn't consider letting me take the kids to see MY family on Christmas Eve, he'd still have them on Christmas Day. I told her that never did and never would fly with him - and yes, we all know he's an asshole, but I think that if the tables were turned, I'd expect the same courtesy of him, and I'd not want him to take my children anywhere that I wouldn't be on the holidays.
"Let me talk to him," she said, "he'll listen to me!"
I'd laughed and told her to see for herself. This was back in October.
Last night, she sends me a text, asking if he'd spoken to me over Thanksgiving about Christmas Eve. I told her he hadn't, as expected. She said he'd told her that he'd consider letting me go with FOUR of his kids (our two, plus his youngest, and his stepson) to my sister's. I told her that 1) he'd likely only said that because he didn't want to hear anything more about it, 2) it wouldn't happen, and 3) where would HE and his WIFE be, if I was taking their kids? She then proceeds in telling me that she hadn't run inviting him and his wife through my sister, yet. My sister was already having 15 people there - her in-laws and an uncle, the Oompa and my stepfather, and the middle sister and her family were going to be there.
Let me just add, NO invite has been extended to me personally - it's only been done through Oompa's constant need to micromanage other people's lives and holiday gatherings so that it suits her own needs and desires.
My phone number has not changed in twelve years. My sisters have every fucking social media account known to (wo)man and yet, they don't know how to text me an invitation themselves. They KNOW there's a standing invitation to a holiday gathering in my home every year, and they've not accepted a single one. Perhaps they understand, better than our mother, that there will just have to be other arrangements made.
I told Oompa to forget it - because 1) my kids are NOT going to want to be spending the holiday anywhere other than with BOTH of their parents, and 2) IF I were to go through with this, I'd NEVER hear the end of it from the wasband, and he'd be RIGHT, because this is fucked up on many levels, and 3) I wasn't going to add another seven or eight plates to my sister's table if the wasband and his wife weren't included in this invitation. If I know my sister, she'd have a shit fit, being a stickler for plans....and besides, why the fuck would you want seven or eight additional people in your house that you didn't invite, yourself???
"Can't you consider coming alone?" Was the next thing my mother says.
"No," I told her. "I'm not coming alone."
Immediately, I felt bad. I know, I shouldn't have. But I did. Because this is my mother, and while I want to spend Christmas with my children, I'm knowing and understanding that deep down, she wants the same. She wants all of her kids and grandchildren around her. But, you see, she has that option. She could come spend the day before Christmas here, then the day of Christmas with my sisters. They could ALL come on Christmas Eve. They can't even say they've tried that because year after year, they've made excuse after excuse on why they can't come....too pregnant, what if it snows, hubby allergic to cats, baby not good in the car, drive is too long...it LOOKS like it is going to snow six days from now, so we shouldn't take any chances...
Oompa then suggests alternating. I do Christmas Eve one year, then sister #1 does it the year after, and then sister #3 does it the year after that...
Look, I don't mind letting someone else host. I just won't be there, if my ENTIRE family is not invited. And as much as I can't stand the wasband - being the mother of two of his children, and godmother to his youngest daughter, makes him my family by default. The kids can love him enough for me - at this point, I love him for one reason only, and that is for giving me my children. Love is possibly too strong a word for him - let's just say I tolerate him at most, for the kids' sake.
Anyway, I tell her that alternating is not going to solve the issue of where the kids are going to be. You'd think that in the ten years I'm divorced, she'd catch on. The kids spend holidays with him and I. Everyone there is welcome to join us - but they've never done that, so we've stopped extending invitations - and for the last several years, the Oompa has been rotating. One year here, one year there, etc. And I've been having to make a trip into Jersey, for additional holiday gatherings. Another Thanksgiving, another Christmas. Even my surprise 40th birthday last year, took place in my mother's neighborhood! Because god forbid any of them come here for that - I'm the one who moved two hours away, after all!
(My mother's whiny-ass voice): TWO HOURS AWAYYYYY.
Yeah. But anyway, there is now a 'December birthdays and holidays gathering' in the planning stages. Of course, it'll be held in the Garden State, and of COURSE it will require for me (and the wasband and his crew) to travel 2 hours - and it'd be because nobody over there wants to make the effort to come HERE for the REAL holidays. Because my mother must be appeased, and she must have 'her holiday visit,' never mind if it's an inconvenience to those of us who would like nothing more than to be finished with the holidays by the time 12/26 rolls around.
At this point, though - I don't care, anymore. I really don't. I feel as if I've been bending for years, doing what others (no - although most of the holiday stress has my mother's name on it, NOT everything does!) want and whatever I might want is usually disregarded....and partially, that's my fault. I would bend...to dodge conflict, to make someone else happy, to avoid arguments, or just so that I didn't have to hear anything more on it. I'm aware that I've done myself no favors by bending.
Ever open a canned beverage? You know that tab that you bend forward, first, to pop open the can? You can then bend the tab back and forth until the tab finally falls off. Doesn't take too many back and forth before that little piece of tin simply snaps.
I feel like that tab now. No more slack, no more strength to keep on bending. My tab has been stubborn and has held on for as long as it possibly could, and if it bends anymore, it's simply going to detach. And then, it will have nothing more to do with the can!
I just do NOT want to get to the point where I want much less, if not nothing, to do with them all anymore - and it's getting VERY close to that point with my family members.
Thank y'alls for listening to this impromptu vent. Maybe now I can get a little more cramming done. I'll be back with a non-school related blog soon (yes, there MIGHT be an announcement of end-semester grades, but that's all I'll do! I promise! You'll all have a reprieve of school-related blogs until February!) and perhaps having less on the brain will help me to be able to touch on topics more pressing than government terms, nightmare papers, all nighters and final exams!
Sending you all my love and well-wishes...and sincerely hoping you guys are a little bit more optimistic about the holidays than I am. For now, I'm still 'bah-humbugging,' but perhaps this will change soon.
Hugs, and good night!