Revisiting rules and protection

So as things have progressed down with my mom’s house with my daughter, I’ve continued to stay out of it.

I’m refusing to play bad cop, and be the one always being the bad guy while she keeps her strategy of always being the one saying yes and being the good guy but then throwing the problems created to me to deal with.

Instead, I’d decided to change strategies… and to treat it like a co-parenting situation with someone who is acting similarly… and to switch to a "parallel parenting" style.

Basically… this means giving up on attempting to come to consistent enforcement with someone who isn’t on the same page… and instead, what happens at their house stays at their house.

If they make rules for their house, fine, but it’s their problem to also enforce those rules. No discipline at my house for something that happened at her house, and the fact that its a rule there does not mean it’s a rule at my house as well.

But, vice versa, I stay completely out of their house happenings too, and don’t get to expect that things enforced at my house will be made to happen there…. even when its things like morning routines that seem pretty critical.

It’s not the ideal strategy… it would work much better to have everyone on the same page and working towards the same goals…. but when you have someone who isn’t going to be working towards that goal either way if it involves saying no, at least it saves a great deal of sanity and frustration trying to make that happen.

And so, as predicted, this has created a lot of frustration on mom’s end, not having someone to do the dirty work for her.

And I have walked out of her home multiple times when she’s tried to force me to do so anyway. Yes, she’s my kid, but if you allowed her to do something, you can also take responsibility for the consequences rather than just having me fix it for you.

And so, mom has had to start saying no in the past year.

Which has, of course, promptly been challenged… and failed.

Kiddo has been banned from mom’s house multiple times, with the longest it has actually been enforced being about 3 days.

And so kiddo has promptly learned that grandma isn’t actually going to be serious about any consequences, and pretty blatantly ignores them.

The end result has been that mom has resorted back to some of the same strategies that she attempted to use on us as teenagers.

Namely, completely arbitrary rules created out of frustration, and shaming.

And, there is part of me that wants to protect kiddo from these… especially the shaming… as it gets towards the line of emotional abuse.

But, there is a difference… kiddo is there voluntarily, and chooses to be there rather than to just come back down to our house.

Even so… it’s been very interesting to see things revisited.

And it’s given me a much clearer look at the way things really were back then.

For example… the shaming strategy.

How this works is that when you do something she doesn’t like, she throws something completely unrelated in your face.


Kiddo is upset because she wants her birthday cake cut one way, while mom is insisting on doing it another way.
Rather than throwing a yelling fit, she sulks over to the couch and fumes silently.
Mom then yells "Well that’s really someone who can be trusted with the keys to a car…"

Miss the connection between a birthday cake and driving? Well, that’s because there really isn’t one. If anything, the response of removing herself from the situation instead of fighting is probably a good sign for a driver… and if people getting upset were a sign they shouldn’t be allowed to drive, my moms keys would be in jeopardy themselves.

But, my mom knows that my daughter learning to drive is something she cares about, and aims for the soft spot.

All through my own teenage years… it was always "Well that’s really a good Christian…" in that same exact tone, no matter what I did that she wasn’t happy about.

And yes, most of it had about as much to do with Christianity as cutting a birthday cake has to do with driving qualifications. I’m remembering one round of refusing to take a particular brand of vitamins because they made me burp nasty tasting burps that got that response.

And its from these memories that I want to try and protect my child… but having to remember, that she’s willingly choosing to let herself continue to be exposed to them by her choice to spend time down there.

Instead, I point out the obvious to her, that the situation had nothing to do with driving suitability and grandma is just being hurtful… and feel all the more push to make sure kiddo gets through her tests to remove the vulnerability of the soft spot as a target. To try and treat the wound before it can become infected into a scar, and to build up resistance to it.

But as I do so, it helps me realize that there was nothing I could have done differently as a teen that would have prevented the shaming outbursts against me.

That if it wouldn’t have been my being a Christian, she would have just found somewhere else to poke at… something else that was important to me.

And that my making her unhappy at something (almost always minor, I’m now noticing) was not just cause… nor was it my fault having provoked it by not cooperating.

And the arbitrary rules side of things is just as eye opening.

Scenario: My daughter, who has ADHD and is not currently on her meds to allow a trial without (mostly by my mom’s pushing), is leaving pop cans around mom’s house rather than taking them down the hall to the trash can.

Mom creates a rule that no pop cans are allowed, and only one cup at a time can be taken out of the cabinet.

On this one, I slipped on not getting involved, and I pointed out to her that this rule was going to be a royal pain to enforce, and was told that she didn’t have to enforce it, that kiddo could just be banned from the house if she didn’t comply.

Now.. telling me about this new rule was actually a half-hour long complaint-fest.

You would think that my kid is just intentionally leaving these pop cans out just to spite my mother, out of pure evil intentions.

In reality… when my kid is thirsty, it’s a clear physical alert grabbing her attention. But, after that thirst signal is gone…. that pop can ceases to exist to her. It might even still be in her hand… but it’s not the focus anymore the second anything at all pulls her attention away from it. Even setting the can down is pretty much just an auto-pilot function in the background… her brain is already elsewhere.

The best solution to this that I’ve found is to have a trash can where kiddo spends significant time… even if its a small one.. to then train that background action to be using the trash can rather than setting down. A reasonable expectation that resolves the issue.

But not to my mother…. who feels like a teenager should be able to carry a pop can down the hall to the trash can every time she is done with it.

And yes, capability-wise, and assuming a normal teen, you could probably train them to do so reliably.

But it is one massively uphill battle to fight with an ADHD kid with no meds.

If she chooses to fight it rather than to work with the more likely to work alternatives, that’s her choice I suppose.

My kid isn’t going to be deliberately defying the rule… let’s face it… she isn’t even going to remember this new random rule even exists.
Thirsty=grab can of pop, stop thirst. A random rule to have to use a glass, and only one particular glass that needs to be hunted down before solving the thirst impulse, isn’t even going to make the slightest appearance on her radar until grandma starts screaming about it afterwards.

It’s not my battle… I’m staying out of it… and already said more than I should have into the matter.

But man, does it remind me of so so many abrupt dramatic rules that were doomed before they ever even started… and how many battles about reasonable alternatives that could have resolved the situation quickly and more effectively… but that instead turned into wars where normal actions got taken as if they were personal assaults.

While I can’t say that it’s a pleasant stroll down memory lane… its certainly an enlightening one.

The unknown brother

I don’t know how much it really has been mentioned much on here.. but I have two half-brothers.

I have one younger full brother… who is usually the one referred to when I don’t specify…

I have one older half-brother from my mom’s side, who I grew up with, but we don’t particularly get along the greatest, so rarely have any involvement other than holidays…. but that is usually the most likely other one to be mentioned.

But, I do also have another older half brother from my dad’s side.

It’s not that we don’t get along…. I just don’t know him very well.

I’ve only heard bits and pieces of the whole story… and I’m sure that’s probably a good thing.

But I do know that my dad’s relationship with his mother ended in a domestic violence incident that involved a baseball bat, and was significant enough that jail was involved even back in the 70s… though I’ve also heard hintings that my dad’s lawyer buddy got him off much lighter than it should have been in some manner or another.

And so… as a child, the only real times that I saw this half-brother were a couple times a year, mainly holidays, when my grandmother would pick him up and bring him to the family gatherings at one of my uncles for the day.

Even then… he usually hung around with the older kids, while I hung around with the female cousins close to my age… so interaction was still pretty limited even at that.

My only real memories of him much as a kid mostly involve conversations with one particular cousin about him being snoody and thinking he was better than the rest of us because his mom and stepdad had good jobs that paid well, and he lived in the more exclusive suburbs, and had the sort of toys that nobody else in the family would ever see. I don’t actually remember any interactions with him like that, just the cousin sessions.

Most of my memories when a bit older mostly just involve feeling like we were strangers with absolutely nothing in common. When I was in college, he was the goth sort, always in black, very into his servers and lan parties and that sort of thing. A bit older, he was more into the keeping up with the latest toys…. the expensive house.. the perfect picky princess of a first wife… pics of his fancy convertible… even running for political office at one point.

We mainly saw each other only at funerals… and later on, through facebook postings.

Again… not like we didn’t get along or had the issues like my older half brother… it’s just that we ran in different worlds. He had his life, and his other half siblings that he was raised with… my younger brother and I just lived in a different one, and never really thought much about it.

Except… now we attend the same church.

I’m still not really sure how to take that.

About the time he married his second wife and had their first kid, he started posting more God related stuff, and got actively involved in the Celebrate Recovery program.. even being a leader of that program at another large church, and more recently a middle school program leader…

But, I guess this spring they changed churches…. and, like us, were hooked quickly with the youth group with his wife’s older kids.

Which brought the realization that they have been married for 8 years now, and we’ve never once met the older kids. We actually had to search for their pages on facebook to show my daughter who they were to see if they’d met each other.

Nor have we ever met their 4-5 year old. The last time we saw the elementary school aged son, he was a toddler, and the only time I had seen him before that, he was an itty bitty baby, maybe a few months old at most.

Given that it’s a big church though, my first thought is that it’s probably not even likely that we’d see each other.

But then, this week, I’d gone ahead and sat down early after my kiddo headed over to work in one of the little kids rooms for second service… and their older kids, not having the foggiest clue who I was or what I looked like, sat down on the other end of the same row…. so when the brother came in, we ended up sharing the row and chatting a little bit about an uncle I’d run into the previous weekend after not seeing in a long time.

But so much, it still just felt like someone who is mostly a stranger that happens to look a lot like me.

It’s kind of interesting…

But also still just a bit awkward, that I don’t really know how to react just yet….

The souring of sweet with bitter

Sometimes I really can’t tell whether it’s just the depression, or if I’ve just become a jaded, grumpy, bitter pessimist.

Today was my daughter’s 8th grade graduation. A happy occasion.

And I’ve tried my best to focus on the happy parts… The proud parts… The achievement… That we have made it this far…

And I know this is where my focus is supposed to be.

But it’s so frustrating when that’s not where my mind and my heart want to stay.

Because it feels rather bittersweet.

It feels like I’ve let her down in so many ways.

Thinking back, I never would have expected that all this way down the line, her starting high school, that things would still be this hard. That things wouldn’t have gotten better.

That I’d still be in a job that does not particularly have any real hope of being any sort of long term career… Instead of somewhere nice and stable and comfy financially.

I sat through the ceremony, hearing all the large families and crowds of supporters, and feel like I’ve failed her that it’s just me, my former stepdad who sees her about 3 times a year only when she pesters him enough, and my mom who i think only really came for the chance to sit and gossip about former friends in whispers with her ex husband.

But then, since mom didn’t come to any of my junior high scuff, or even my graduation, i have to admit even this is an improvement.

As the other kids in her class host big graduation parties in expensive places and fancy houses… I realize that I’d likely not even be able to do that for a high school graduation for her.

I know that I’ve done what I could with the cards that I had… But sometimes… Sometimes it just shows how vast the gap is between what life is, and what I expected it would be by now.

And while I’m glad that she got pulled off afterwards by so many friends families insisting that they needed pics with her, I know from my own experience that it’s just not the same as your own.

I’d post a nice little pic here of me and her, by ourselves, our own little family..

But there weren’t any.

And never are.

I’m the one who takes the pics, who holds the 5 inch chunky heels that got uncomfortable and hauls around the clutch and all sorts of other stuff that is in the way… the one that is busy coordinating summer plans with the other parents as a social secretary. Not the one that you want to have pictures with.

But the part of it that gets me of that… Is that I’m the only one who ever noticed that the only pics of kiddo and I together that exist are generally from concerts.

It would have been nice to have someone else on the planet that cared enough about both of us to want one too.

The fall

Friday night was going rough.

The booth setup was coming apart as I was trying to get it loaded… I wasn’t getting much help from kiddo… and stupid distractions kept taking up time and making things later and later.

I’d planned to be in bed by about 9, to be up by 4, to be there by 530.

About 10:30, I had just gotten out of the shower, and went across the living room in a towel to close the curtains that had been left open.

And on the way across the room, I fell.


Damp feet on hardwood floor, again.

My knee went weird directions… but didn’t go out of place… but, although there was no sharp pain, it was very sore, had three small areas of bruising, and a ring of swelling below it.

But I could hobble to my bed.. so I wasn’t too worried…

Until about 5 minutes later, when I realized I had stabbing pain whenever I twisted my back or tried to sit up.

And it just got worse as a few more minutes passed.

So, I ended up spending from 11:30 until 5 am in the emergency room.

Nothing broken… so they think that the back is just a pulled muscle.

Pain killers and muscle relaxers… it’s still sore today (Wednesday), but nothing too extreme.

Knee also sore still, but I don’t think anything serious is messed up.

But, needless to say, leaving the ER barely hobbling at 5am, I didn’t make it to the farmer’s market by 530 this week either.

So, I’m feeling seriously discouraged right now.

I enjoy making the items… I know that there’s been interest in purchasing them…

But the whole sales process is really being an uphill battle, before things even get to involving any customers.

I have about 3 weeks until the next round, which should be giving me lots of time to be getting things fixed with the booth setup, get things tweaked, and get more inventory ready…

But I just haven’t even felt like looking at it this week.

The stool


This…. is the stool of assisted confidence.

It may not look like much…. but there’s a story.

The market runs for 5 hours.

I knew that with my knee, even with my brace on, standing for 5 hours wasn’t going to be likely to go well, if it was possible at all.

But, at the same time, plopping into a lawn chair wasn’t likely to go well for looking like I actually want business, especially with our open booth design.

And, a chair would be low, needing a lot of pressure on the knee with repeatedly getting up and down.

The barstools I looked at were just the opposite… they would require repeatedly boosting up.

Plus, my fat butt would take a toll of some of the cheaper ones that didn’t look too stable.

So, I was looking online pretty intensively one morning… and getting priced out of reasonable quickly on anything even close to what I needed.

And I was getting worried about it.

Could I even pulls this off if I wanted to?

And then, that very afternoon, there it was.

In the grocery store, of all places!

Just randomly added to the outdoor BBQ stuff like coolers and picnic items… not even put away on a shelf but just sitting in a stack in the middle of the aisle beside the shelf… was a small pile of these stools.

Never seen any other stools of any sort here… or even lawnchairs in this area… but here they were now, just a sort of a completely random addition to the store’s summer items.

Perfect butt height to be able to slide on and off with no knee stress.

Solid, durable metal.. no breaking worries.

Even has a build in handle for making it easy to transport back and forth to the booth.

And pretty, to boot!

I picked it up before I even knew the price… because there wasn’t actually even a sign around for them…. but it was exactly what I needed so much that at the moment, it didn’t even matter.

25 bucks.

Less than just about everything I’d been looking at… most of them by far… and pretty much perfectly in what I could reasonably afford.

A few days later, Boo claimed a matching one in light blue.

A random need makes me worry on it being a threat to the whole thing…. and then, suddenly and randomly, is perfectly resolved.

The stool is far from the only example… but its one of the cleanest…

And so, I’m trying to keep reminding myself to focus on this…

As I’m freaking out a bit.. and trying to take deep breathes…

Dog’s Day

So.. I’ve vented about Mother’s Day on here repeatedly… on the feelings from being a mother and yet not being counted as one on mother’s day not from lack of a child but of lack of any real support that cares.

Well, this year, having the day be all about my mother, to the exclusion of any other mothers, wasn’t quite enough…

This year, it was announced that instead of doing Mother’s Day dinner for my mom, we would instead be having a birthday party for her dog.

Yes, a day honoring the mother-child relationship was instead replaced with a celebration of her dog.

Only my family…

But to really realize the slap, you have to realize that I hate these dogs.


It’s not even spoiled dogs… some of the most spoiled dogs are also some of the best behaved, especially the ones you see in public.

It’s dogs that the owners have never bothered to attempt to train to do anything other than potty outside (ok, and sometimes even that)

And my mother’s dogs are basically the poster children for that lack of training or any expectation of appropriate behavior.

In spite of now being over 2 years old, the response to everything they do is "they are just puppies, they don’t know any better", rather than teaching them better.

They essentially destroy whatever they can reach (Including rugs and new carpeting and furniture).

If you try and eat, they will bark and bark until my mom gives them food from her plate. If you point out that this is just teaching them that if they bark constantly during mealtimes they will be rewarded with what they want, she will just snap back that giving them food makes them stop barking so she can eat.

Which doesn’t happen. And, one in particular barks constantly anyway, at every passing breeze… which my mother will tell you is a good thing because then you know to go check that it might be something that needed warned about by a guard dog. (Even if 400+ times a day it isn’t.)

They jump and scratch all over people… with uncut claws because trimming their claws supposedly upsets them too much… and if you do anything to push them back or defend yourself, she tells you not to be mean to them when they are just happy to see you.

They jump on tables and counters to grab things to chew up, and its always the human’s fault for having left something like a phone or remote on a kitchen counter knowing that they can jump, rather than the dog’s fault. There pretty much is no safe zone for setting anything down in the house.

Let alone any room for accidents. My wallet falls out of my too loose pockets while I was sitting at the kitchen table? Gone. I fall asleep on the couch one night waiting and my glasses slide off my nose? Gone.

But it doesn’t even have to be loose… I’ve had to set boundaries repeatedly with the dogs chewing on shoes themselves (not just the laces) and damaging them while they were still on my feet.

I got told that I should just take them off and put them in a closet when I come inside when I complained that I didn’t have the budget to be replacing $100 shoes from dog damage… and so, I got up and left. If walking in the door is going to be considered permission for my shoes/pants to be turned into expensive dog toys without even being allowed to tell them no or force them to stop, then that’s going to be the end of my visit.

Which of course always gets treated like I’m being stupid about it… rather than making any attempt to get the dogs to stop… or rather than admitting that other family friends have stopped visiting entirely because of the dogs being rough with their children so there might be a problem.

But then, that’s assuming that you can even sit down.

Often, the dogs are spread out all over the couch, but their pillows and blankets are spread all over the love seat and chair.. but if you move the blankets, the dogs will them get upset and you’ll be told "they live here" if you expect to be able to have a seat in the living room in spite of the dogs’ possessions.

Because, you see, she’d convinced that since she read somewhere on her facebook groups that boston terriers sometimes have to be covered up to go to sleep, the dogs are trained that they have to sleep on a pillow with a blanket covering them. They will literally bark at my mom when they are tired until she makes a bed for them.

But then, that’s assuming you can even get in the door. The gates now have to be kept locked because someone might steal the dogs… in spite of the fact that nobody ever messed with any of our other dogs in the exact same yard. But with the gates locked, if the front door is locked (It frequently is, even when she’s home, for the same reason) you can’t even get to the back door to use the key unless you jump the gates or have a garage door opener (My brother does, I don’t.)

Even though she has a dog door, it has to be kept closed instead of letting them come and go, because she has to go outside with them to watch them to make sure that these 35 lb dogs don’t get taken by a hawk (That nobody has ever seen in the area… that her cat is apparently open game for… that has never touched my brothers previous small dog…) again, due to experiences of facebook group members.

But these dogs do actually need watched, because they will pick up things like pieces of plastic and roofing nails and anything else they can find and try to chew on them… because my mother will then trade them a handful of treats to give it to her.

None of our previous dogs have ever bothered with picking up things like roofing nails from the yard. None. Why would a dog have any interest at all in such a thing?

But these dogs might eat them and die. They go to the vet if they so much as appear to have a tummy ache for a single day… but the yard and house has to be kept tighter than you would for a crawling baby because they might die otherwise.

This also means they can’t be left home alone on their own for very long without someone there to let them out, because they haven’t been crate trained or trained to wait either.

You can point out that other people are able to leave their dogs of this same breed for long enough to go to work each and every day, and it just doesn’t matter… hers just aren’t capable to her, and thus must be catered to.

So rather than take the effort it takes for a brief period to train them appropriate behavior, these dogs end up taking almost as much effort as a young child every single day… a nice substitute for any human interaction I guess.

And so… it’s under this environment that mother’s day was cancelled in favor of the dog’s birthday.

I actually shouldn’t have been surprised. For that matter, the mother’s day pillow that my daughter and I gave my mom a few years ago had long since been gifted to one of the dogs as a chew toy.

But it didn’t stop with just that declaration.

Because then I got told that because I’m so mean to the dogs (expecting them to at least somewhat be expected to behave, or I simply leave and let her have her choice to make to attempt to correct them while I make my own not to be terrorized by them)…

That the dogs didn’t know if I should be allowed to attend.

I ignored it the first time.

The second time, I was informed that I was going to have to make it up to them for being so mean to them to get to come.

Uh, yeah.. no.


Not even going there on playing games with required bribes.

Especially after the day before… I wasn’t even in the mood to deal with that sort of stupidity.

And so I didn’t even go.

Didn’t even see my mom on mother’s day, and while I sent my gift with my daughter, I seriously debated not even doing that since she’d decided the dogs were more important to celebrate.

The unfortunate side that I didn’t think ahead to predict was that my daughter wanted to be down with the action, and so I barely saw my own kid that day.

And, of course, the dog’s birthday will likely fall the same weekend as mother’s day every year, so this is likely to become a repeated thing.


I’m thinking I need to schedule myself a nice out of town getaway to just about anywhere for next year.

The pieces

Today has been one seriously rough day.

The morning chaos started with kiddo refusing to get up… And ended with my decision that I wasn’t prepared to do the booth completely alone (particularly physically setting up), and deciding to cancel for today.

Actually, it probably technically stayed with the fact that I barely slept at all and was already about an inch from a nervous meltdown even before the battle started.

So… Things sort of fell to pieces.

Tears were shed… An extremely alone in the world feeling pity party was held…

Let’s just say the mood for the day was extremely lousy, and some stupid family drama coming in on top just made things worse.

The plan right now is to regroup and try again next week instead of waiting until the next date we had scheduled next month. I think it’s going to work out better, and hopefully give us both a chance to feel better prepared and less in over our heads.

It also gives me a chance to look into wheels/wagon for aiding in set up, and figure out my best strategy to go it alone.

But I really don’t want to.

But, like many things… I’m thinking it may come down to a question of whether I’d prefer to go it alone, or just prefer to give up… Because those may be the only two real options.

Sometimes, like today, it sort of feels like life in general only gives those two options.

But, when it comes down to it… I’m reminded of one of the things I’d read regarding abandonment… That pointed out that if they were capable of abandoning you, you were always really alone and doing it on your own anyways but without realizing you were.

While it meant in the direction of k, and does apply there… I think it applies just as much to the friends lost in the process.

Like outgrown training wheels, they appeared to be there, but only because I didn’t really need to put any weight on them. But if they weren’t able to take any weight when they were actually tested, then they weren’t actually being used previously anyway beyond just the mental boost of thinking they were there.

I’m going to bed now… And hoping that doing so just sort of erases this day completely.