the demons of doubt and disappointment

circular file
At this point, my mother's refusal to respect my request for no contact with me, my husband, or my children is more of an irritating mosquito buzzing in my ear than the crazy-making depression sparker that it would have been before, but it still pisses me off when she crosses the boundaries I have defined. This time gifts were sneaked into my car after a visit with some other relatives. She had apparently given a bag of items to them, knowing that they would see me. They didn't tell me what they were putting in the car. I knew this might happen, but I'm disappointed that it did.

I'm disappointed that my relatives allowed themselves to be used as mules, even though I know it was probably easier for them to just take the stuff than to stand up to my mother.

I'm disappointed that the relatives probably don't think I have a good reason to have divorced myself from my parents, and probably feel sorry for those poor people, robbed of their rightful relationship with their grandchildren.

I'm disappointed that I didn't step up and say "whoa, what are you putting in my car? Nope, won't accept it." Not confronting it is probably the kindest route as far as my relatives are concerned - why make them uncomfortable? - but still, I feel like not standing up for myself is "losing" somehow.

I'm disappointed that my mother disregards my request. Not surprised, but still disappointed.

I'm disappointed that once again, I have to find a way to deal with these unwanted gifts. I'm disappointed that once again, I've been put in the position of either giving my kids gifts that I said I don't want them to receive, letting the kids be aware of the gifts but disposing of them, or preventing the kids from ever knowing that the gifts arrived.

The disappointment kicks off the demons of self-doubt. Am I being a jerk? Should I try to preserve/rebuild a relationship between my parents and my children? Is it horrible that I try not to let the kids know when cards and gifts arrive? Is it deceitful of me? Is it wrong not to give a child a gift that was sent for him?  But I told the giver not to send them! I don't want to see clothing she sent on my children's bodies or in the laundry, or toys she gave them scattered across my floor!

Every time this happens, I feel like writing a letter or email message telling her to CEASE AND DESIST. I said NO and I meant NO. I feel like telling her, "anything you send will be recycled, thrown out, or donated - the children will not see them. Your money is being wasted." I suspect, though, that the gifts aren't really for the kids - the toys are poor quality, the clothing is deep-discounted, and nothing is wrapped nicely. This last bunch was put into random paper shopping bags with sharpie marker inscriptions. She doesn't want to actually give nice gifts, presented nicely, to my children. She wants to get a dig in at me. She wants to put me on the spot. I suspect that she knows that the kids don't receive the gifts - the "we love you and we miss you" notes are for me to read and the gifts are being given so that a) she has the toddler-ish pleasure of defying me and b) so that she can look like a good grandma to the rest of the world. So I don't write a message to her, because I feel like then she would be succeeding in getting me to engage with her. And the first rule of dealing with my mom is DO NOT ENGAGE. It won't change anything; it'll just give her the satisfaction of getting a rise out of me.

If she/they really loved their grandchildren, they'd respect their mother's wishes. If she actually missed them, she'd work hard to figure out what to do in order to reestablish a relationship with me, so that she can see them. She wouldn't be trying to work around me by sending token gifts.

I wondered what the wording of my no-contact email message to them was, so I searched for it in my Sent folder tonight, expecting to hate what I saw, but it was actually a great email. It was clear, it was well-thought-out, it didn't attack, it made polite requests, it showed sympathy for what they're feeling. Why do I doubt myself for preventing my kids from receiving gifts sent by people who cannot engage with me in a respectful manner consistent with how I want to be treated? It's ridiculous.

This blog post is all over the map. Ugh.

Tonight I got home with the kids, dodged a question from the eldest about what was in the bags (he rightly assumed that it was gifts), and took the stuff straight up to my bedroom. While the kids played, I took time away from them to go through the bags quickly, so that everything could be taken care of before they found it. I threw away the packaging immediately, recycled the maudlin birthday card for the youngest, and grabbed an AmVets bag for the gifts. Took it up to the attic. Done. But I'm frustrated that she continues to put me in this spot, and I'm tired of feeling like an asshole.



  1. What kind of asshole puts stuff in your car without telling you? Wtf, are you invisible? That's fucked up.

  2. Claire, may I do a post on this? With your permission, I'd like to write my take on it in a post of my own.

    If you don't feel comfortable, I completely understand.

    For the record, I don't think this post is all over the map...I think it makes perfect sense and I know exactly where you are coming from. I'm thinking that writing a post about what you have written here would be a great way for me to address my theme of "gift-giving from narcs" that I've sort of been attacking here-and-there on my own blog. DH and I have chosen to keep the attacks from his NM on the down-low (in case she ever finds our blogs, we don't want her to know our thoughts/plans/etc) but I'd love to still write about this topic - particularly because it involved gifts that are being given to the children!

    It's heinous what your NM is doing and I am upset for you that other members of your FOO are playing her sneaky games. They are Flying Monkeys, for sure! You've been forced to make some really hard decisions, and I can relate.

    Sending you lots of hugs,


  3. Lisa, it does sadden me that they chose not to tell me. I saw what they were doing and was pretty sure where the bag came from, because everybody was acting really awkward. I'm unwilling to be angry with them, though, because I know that they are a conflict-avoidant bunch who carry their own family history/baggage (they're related to my father, who was raised to shut up and follow orders...hence the success of his marriage to my mother). I know they were uncomfortable. I was probably easier for me to dispose of the gifts than for them to be used as mules.

    Jonsi, please do, and come back and link so I can read!

    Still feeling kindof GRRR today about it. I'm not hurt, I'm not angry, just frustrated and tired of dealing with this shit.

    Thanks for the support, guys. :o)

  4. And yes, they're Flying Monkeys. But like the critters from Oz, I don't think they know any other way of being, and without that awareness, they can't change.

  5. Little One, The conflicted feelings are normal. But respectfully, here's the deal: If YOU as an adult, a mom don't feel safe with this woman your children aren't safe either. And because you know this, it was at least part of the equation in terms of terminating the relationship. These decisions are NOT made lightly or without years (lifetimes, actually) of experience with the pdparent and the recognition we will NOT expose our kids to these people in the name of "family." DNA is not a "done deal" and family is NOT the definition most people would attribute to the words 'mother,' 'father' and so forth. The label is NOT the relationship or personal qualities one would generally expect based on the DNA relationship and societal expectations.

    Respectfully, it would not have mattered how you phrased your NC email. Truly. You're not being heard, you will never be heard and the violation(s) of your NC boundary speak to and reinforce your decision. In my own experience it doesn't matter how NC is "presented:" It will NOT be accepted.....simply because it's a "Declaration of Independence" and a statement to that effect does not compute with these people. The concept of "Boundaries" is so far out of the realm of these people they're not gonna get it. And that's OK. They don't have to; however, the continuing disrespect and dragging your kids into it is a tried and true way of continuing to engage with you-in ANY WAY. Your kids are no different in her world than you were-a "prop," no more, no less.....the concept of "extension" or "Cut-out dolls" applies here.

    The flying monkeys have their own agendas-just don't confuse theirs with yours. One of the most despicable behaviors the pdparent engages in is "Buying The Grand Kids." As parents, we're doing our very best to protect our kids from what we experienced. The Flying Monkeys are living their own agenda-ex: "OK, We'll placate the bytch because it's easier and besides, that's all we know-or care to know."

    Of course the "gifts" aren't for the kids. They're simply a way of "poking" you under the guise of caring about the grandkids. The goal is to get YOU to RESPOND. Please, don't. Ever. You've said "Enough" and I assure you as time goes on your decision will be reinforced continually. As a parent, your primary task is protection of your kids. And it sounds like you're doing a great job.

    You lack not one thing except a bit more self-confidence. As time goes on and you find yourself handling these kinds of situations successfully your decision and confidence will increase. promise! :)

    And no, IMO, your post was not "all over the place." Your description was very accurate.....and your feelings are a normal response to an abnormal situation. You want what is "best" for your kids and your family. Reality is, YOU are the expert here. And you're just itching to respond (how well I get this, believe me) but resounding silence is IMO the best response.

  6. Thank you, Anonymous one! All of what you said is what I believe to be true. I just hate being put in the position of having to, yet again, throw away (or donate or recycle) more things sent with my children's names on them. I hate that my children are aware to some extent that I'm not giving these things to them. It's very wrong of my mother to put us in that position...which just points right back to the reasons I don't want her in our lives to start with.

    I wonder how much longer she will keep this up. One more year? Two? Twenty? Thirty? No, I won't respond, but the little kid inside of me sometimes screams LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

  7. She'll keep on responding until it no longer matters to YOU!

    Truly, there will come a day where you become so indifferent to this crap it no longer matters WHAT she does. Time isn't always about a clock. It's also about emotions and ultimately that's what's gonna matter.

    Please forgive me, but I must tell you when it came to "When Is She Gonna Give UP?" There was a time when all I could believe the answer was "When she DIES." Sometimes that's the real question about, " long does this mess last?"

    Rest assured, you're making a journey and they all take time.

  8. Last year my mother sent my kids a recordable book of my folks reading The Night Before Christmas to my children. It hurt - a lot. I cried like I hadn't cried in years. I hated being in the situation of essentially erasing my parents from my children's lives. Every day I think about how great it would be if my kids had both sets of grandparents. My dad would kick so much ass as a grandpa, if only my mother weren't around. I'm sorry that this happened to you, 'cause I know how utterly frustrating and even devestating it could be. I suggest we all drink heavily this holiday (when the kids are in bed, obviously). -S

  9. Oh, S, that sounds so hard! Things like that make we wonder why they can't do sweet things like that for YOU, and maintain a good relationship with you? My parents have great potential for grandparenthood, and apparently my still-enmeshed siblings think they are fantastic grandparents for their children. But they're just "blah" at best for my kids, and the most important element - a loving relationship with my children's mother (me) - is missing.

    Please know that YOU are not erasing your parents from your children's lives. Your parents did that, themselves. Their own choices are what make them strangers to your children, and unfit to be a part of your family. I wish you and I had healthier parents.

    I'll lift my glass of whiskey-spiked eggnog to you and all ACONs this Christmas!