I spoke with my mom today after almost a month of not calling. With Chris’s parents in town and our travels both to Baltimore and South Asia, I didn’t think it made sense to call her, especially since I knew if I were honest about Chris’s parents being here that she’d likely be jealous and make a lot of unnecessary comments that would be unpleasant. My dad recently texted after I sent a Father’s Day gift to ask if I had plans to come visit. I was originally planning to come visit and overlap it with a work trip like I did last August, but given I recently found out that my company is trying to conserve funds and is cancelling our planned offsite in San Francisco, that canned my combined work/family trip idea. So if I were to go home now, it would have to not only be on my own dime, but I’d likely need to take some time off to take care of Kaia. My parents are not suitable babysitters.
The last time I went home, it was total hell leading up to the trip because of my dad’s uncalled for, childish, and toxic behavior. My mom only supported him and gave me endless grief when I was finally home, whether it was through making aggressive comments against me throughout each day I was at their house, or outright calling me out to tell me I had no right to defy them. It’s the same story every time I go home: I always hope that they will at least try to be a bit more pleasant, that they will treat me a little bit better and maybe do a better job of acknowledging Chris, but it’s the same crap every single time. It always gives me anxiety every time I’m about to come home, and it only gets exacerbated when I am finally in their presence. I logically know they will never change. But I also constantly get questions from relatives back home and my friends in San Francisco in regards to “when are you coming home?” and “when can we see Kaia again?” as though there’s something wrong with ME, and as though I’m the reason there is never-ending conflict between my parents and me. It’s also annoying when Chris’s parents try to feign ignorance of any family dysfunction and continue to ask me how my parents are doing and when I last saw them (and then, seem surprised that I’ve actually seen THEM twice since I last saw my own parents!). But I suppose I can see it from their point of view: Chris’s dad was a mama’s boy who told his mother literally every detail of his life; Chris’s mom was extremely close to her mom and had a good relationship with her. They’d likely only hope the same for every other person on this earth. I guess it’s always easy to shame the younger person. It’s emotionally exhausting. And then, once I leave, my mom acts as though nothing bad happened while I was at home, as though she treated Chris and me perfectly the whole time, and then eagerly asks when we are planning to come back… And always ends with, “Next time, stay longer, at least a month.” She’s gaslighting me without probably even fully being conscious of it. It’s the same stupid cycle over and over again. And I don’t want to enable it further. So maybe I just won’t go back this year. The other thing that always infuriates me is that I go through the same cycle of fury each year when I approach the anniversary date of Ed’s death, and his absence is just a poignant reminder of how screwy in the head both my parents are and how they will never change or see wrong in themselves, even after losing their own child.
At the end of the day, I believe they did they best they knew how to as most parents do, but they were just so limited in their ability to do better than what they were given as children growing up in their own toxic families. I’m hell bent on ending the intergenerational trauma that they willingly choose to inflict on me.