Life has a way of drawing circles around things for me sometimes. Christmas is always stressful for me. I dread too much exposure to my inlaws. I hate the gooey fake facade. I hate the petty slights and the horror story unkindnesses.
But this was The Blonde’s first Christmas away from home. Last year we loaned them The Carpenter’s car, so they could drive back to the middle of nowhere, USA. But then again, last year The Carpenter took a layoff at Christmas that accidentally lasted three months. Just couldn’t risk it this year.
So The Carpenter asked his mother if The Boys could come to Christmas with us. He did what he could to give my best friend what he needed over Christmas; a mom to fuss over him and feed him and do all that mommy shit that I was never cut out for.
They didn’t end up coming. But I was impressed that the offer was made, that he came up with it himself, and that he was willing to share his family so that The Blonde wouldn’t be lonely.
The Brunette was down for it on the grounds that it was going to be free food.
We went on the traditional family sleigh ride, and all the PIA relatives abstained, leaving us alone on a sleigh full of cool kids. It was awesome. Again, my Boys didn’t come, and I missed them. Their friendship is firmly lodged in a ‘family’ place for me, and family stuff feels weird without them. They have told me before that they don’t think of me as a mom, and that frankly distressed me a bit. I’m not a good mom, but I’m an excellent bad mom.
Talked to my mom on Christmas day. It was weird and stilted and I lapsed into ‘dancing monkey’ which is my #1 coping mechanism for deflecting my mother. I cracked jokes like a coked-up Robin Williams and asked so many questions she didn’t have time to tell me anything.
I also confirmed that an unaccounted credit card payment had come from her. It was accidental, but it helped at Christmastime and the bank was completely useless at comprehending why I would want to trace and/or return money that I knew did not belong to me. Last night she wrote me on FB to tell me that she confirmed with her online banking - the money had NOT actually come from her, so “good luck with that.”
It seemed weird, but whatever, I’ll send The Carpenter to deal with it at the branch. I responded and told her my news; yesterday I sprained my ankle. A week before my Level 1 Derby testing, I can’t put any weight on it. I spent an hour in the ER.
This morning she responded. Not a word about my injury. A lot about hers. She is hurt and humiliated because my kids might not know that she helped with their Christmas and didn’t say happy holidays to her when she called (she wasn’t put on the phone with them, because she caught us as we were on the way out the door, and she didn’t ask to speak to them). I assume the Christmas help she was referring to was the money my dad sent me after my car was broken into; $1,000 of which I only have to repay $500, and keep the rest for Christmas.
That money got spent on the replacement laptop for school. And no, I did not discuss the extent to which I had to borrow from my parents with my kids. I hate borrowing money. It makes me feel weak, and it seems the people who are willing to lend it always want more than just money in return.
Normally I would call her and apologize and grovel. But she didn’t impeach my behaviour this time. It was not me who was ungrateful and unappreciative and disappointing. This time (provided they knew about our financial arrangements) it was my kids. They didn’t know, they didn’t do anything wrong, and I’m not going to sacrifice them to the illusion of affection between my mother and I.
I wish I had what all my boys (Carpenter included) have; a mommy. Then I look at the people I’ve chosen to be my family - my friends, and I am happy and proud. I think it is awesome and unprecedented that so many cool and funny and interesting and talented people let me walk among them and don’t call me out as an imposter.