Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Let's talk! Ambivelence for openers, ok?

Boy, here's a mixture for you - great vibes from last night -kids, great dinner, beautiful candlelit church service, hearing one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs done in Swedish at our late-hour (10 p.m.) church service. Lots of gifts -if that is what your Christmas is all about (mine isn't but it's nice) and just lots and lots of good will, peace on earth feelings abounding.

Well that was true until this afternoon anyway. Ok, the bulk of the feelings remain the same and a few others good will ones enter in -like reading Bee's blog post and learning her son has checked himself into a rehab program. Amen to that. If that were all there is to it that is. Now, pray that Bee and Sarge's son has the right momentum going for him that this time the rehab is what he needs, what Bee and Sarge (and everyone who's been reading her or his blog) have all been praying for will take place. For all my obnoxious posts, my comments that at times linger on the side of not so nice, I am, believe it or not, a firm believer in the power of prayer. Just let me explain something here though. Prayer does work -it's just that it doesn't always get answered in the same time span as WE would always want it and it isn't always answered directly the way WE would like it to be addressed either! A prayer is answered in the Good Lord's own time and in the manner HE deems at that point in time to be answering his call and ou needs, simultaneously -which might not necessarily be jiving at that moment, you see. Well, that's my interpretation fo the way God answers our prayers anyway.

Now, on to bigger and better (maybe not in some instances here) things!

Christmas Eve was great! A little off-balance to my system perhaps -ok, backwards to my system to be blunt about it. Christmas is a time of not just tuning in to our religious beliefs, but also to things we have ingrained into our systems too as "traditions." And for me, my traditions, per se, were Christmas Eve SHOULD be (I put it this way as this is what I grew up with) a quiet supper consisting of a very bland meal - salted, soaked, cooked, boiled codfish, boiled potatoes with a dabble of butter, white cream gravy and peas in a white cream sauce. No color, nothing fancy at all to the meal as this is a pre-celebratory event. Family arriving, preparations to go to church at 11 p.m. for midnight services. After church, come home to a table set with various "treats" - jellied veal and vinegar, herring (or sill) in different sauces, pannakaka (baked custard), breads (white Swedish kaka and Swedish Rye), cheeses - sharp cheddar and Swedish Bondost -for openers -along with variations of nut and date filled breads and cookies, cookies and more cookies! Oh, ok along with that maybe a little bit of Mogan David Wine too! Hey, this WAS my family tradition, one that I grew up with. Today - not quite the same!

When I was a kid, the above foods came out after church at midnight. THe light meal was supper before Christmas eve church - the big Christmas dinner came around 3 p.m. on CHristmas Day! It -dinner - usually consisted of a big ham and potatoes, lots of veggies, etc., followed by cake, breads, pie, -you name it for dessert -whatever your tastebuds had a hankering for generally was present then.

Yesterday, my kids and I had our big dinner about 2:30 p.m. after which we had our gift exchange -something that as a kid never happened till about 1:30-2 a.m. Christmas morning -after church, after our midnight meal -then gift exchange. Priorities, people, priorities you know. Well priorities now are different. That was then, 50 plus years ago and this is now. Which consisted of baked ham (compliments of Mandy's winning it at bingo two weeks ago - my grandmother would roll in her grave thinking of food in her house -at a holiday like Christmas too -that came from "GAMBLING!" perish the thought! But, in addition to the ham, there was gravy, mashed white potatoes, sweet potatoes with pineapple and pecans, green bean casserole, succotash, coleslaw, watergate salad, homemade rye bread, blackberry-nut bread and date-walnut bread -and for anyone with a bit of space leftover and a sweet tooth -cookies galore -like about 8-10 different kinds of cookies. There was no "after-church meal" last night and today's food consisted of veggie tray with dip, ham and summer sausage, cheeses (sharp cheddar, pepper cheese and "Bondost" - a mellow, soft Swedish cheese (I love it), crackers, breads, cookies -all pretty much "self-serve" when you feel like nibbling. There was no big DINNER today! All was, as I said above, backwards. Why was that you may ask? Well, because for openers, my older grandson could only be here with us until 4 p.m. when Mandy had to take him to the interstate exchange about 4 miles from here to meet his dad there so he could be with his dad and his dad's girlfriend to go to church with them last night and spend Christmas Day with his dad and his paternal grandparents today. Then the two middle stepgrandchildren were here too until about 7:30 p.m. when they had to return to their home with their maternal grandmother as well. So, come time to go to church last night, older daughter had to go home prior to that because she works midnight shift and though she had last night off, she'd been up for well over 24 hours before hand and was, well exhausted is the word that comes to mind. But Mandy, Kate and I went to church for our 10 p.m. candlelight service and my son and his girlfriend managed to get there in time for the service too. Considering the fact my son has claimed to be a non-believer in organized religion, it seems a lot of that belief or non-belief also hinges on if he has a special friend at the time who believes or non-believes, which way the wind may blow in his direction. I'm not complaining there, just making a statement you know! I'm happy he was there regardless of what motivated him this time or the last time or the time before that in years of recent past! Hope for everyone ya know and take it when it comes too is my belief there!

Ok - a little bit of digression there - but not really -it all fits -eventually!

Fast forward to this afternoon and the phone call from the non-present-parent -good old dad, who can do a myriad of sins of the years and be immediately forgiven for them (or so it does seem at times) now that he got sober 13 years ago. Oh, and now that he also has notified all three children that he is planning on marrying again -for the 5th time, might I add -come spring -oh, sometime. Am I ambivalent there? Yes and now. Do I give a rip that he is planning to marry again - hell no because drunk or sober, he can still be the most obnoxious so-and-so on the face of the earth to live with -although sober is better.

So what the heck am I rambling about you ask? Well let me tell you. It is about lovely father who is feeling so wonderful, so generous, so full of the spirit that he and his "girlfriend" of the current time anyway -hey a lot can happen in Nevada between now and April ya know - because he and his girlfriend du jour did a good deed!

Seems, as he explained this to daughter#2 -i.e. Mandy -on the phone today, girlfriend works at a grocery store in "Nevada" -someplace (not to be specificall identified here) and a co-worker of hers who doesn't have a pot to whiz in, has a little girl who wanted some kind of Disney Princess car or some such, which the mother could no way afford to buy for the kid -but father/grandfather (to end all of course) and girlfriend decided to buy it, put this car together - I don't understand why it needed towing but according to the story line I got, it did -anyway, today Wonderful father and lovely current girlfriend, delivered said car to this well-deserving small child -amidst cheers and thumbs up and all that poppy cock and gee, how good father/grandfather felt because he did something so giving, so wonderful for some poor very poor, deserving small child somewhere in the Nevada desert.

Ok- now you see me in all my not-so shining glory! A very, apparently non-forgiving soul who can't forget how many years OUR children went without, how WE have three children, three grandchildren, three step-grandchildren too -who often don't get what is tops on their wishes for Christmas but you feel so super wonderful because you were able to give one child who had nothing, something. Do you all understand here why I have very ambivalent feelings about this whole transaction here?

On one hand, I am very grateful that 13 plus years ago you found it to your best interest then to get "sober" - to stop with the incessant indulging in alcoholic beverage consumption. Yes, that was a great thing and I AM, trust me, I am very grateful, very thankful that that happened. I do wish you could say the same about indulging in other things - smoking little items that are also a drug might I add. Ok, they aren't the same but well -they dull the senses regardless, don't they? 'Nuff said, I hope!

So what is it that annoys me about his benevolent gesture this Christmas season? Simply that he let 35 years go, slide right on by without a thought! And now, ok - a phone call here, a visit east for maybe a week once a year is supposed to make up for 35 years of being missing in action shall we say as a parent, now, as a grandparent and I am supposed to rejoice?

I do rejoice on one hand that maybe the dad I told my kids they actually had, actually existed all along -just not there for them when they really needed him! But you say - so do I for that matter -better late than never -true enough. But it still doesn't quite do enough for me to erase all the things our three children missed too over those yearsl. No, they didn't miss all that much with respect to materialistic stuff -they might argue that point here and there, but overall, no, they got as much as was affordable and what they absolutely HAD to have.

So, again, why did this news flash this afternoon totally tick me off? You tell me and we'll all know!

But then, this all came about via a conversation with my son -after he had conversed with his dad, after Mandy had too -and one of two kids was really excited about Dad doing this and the other kid was "ok, you did a "feel-good" moment, you told me about it, and now, what do you want me do do with YOUR feel-good moment anyway." You guess which kid had the "I'm so happy for my dad being such a generous old fart" now and which one was saying "thanks for telling me about that Dad, but in the general pecking order of who ranked and who didn't -well, Mom came and still does come first?"

I don't know if older daughter got the same type of phone call today - and I AM NOT saying he shouldnt have done what he did -not by a long shot - but damn, is it just me or would you think too, as I did -still am for that matter - than hey, buddy, you have three children of your own, three grandchildren too, and three step-grandchildren as wel - don't you think maybe they might have appreciated a similar gesture then -or even now -from you? Or am I being selfish?

And, lest you-anyone- thinks I am being prejudiced based on the male sex. etc. let me conclude with this exercise in great mothering skills. The stepgranddaughter here was, at 11:30 this morning anticipating that her mother - the non-custodial parent here -would be picking her up -"momentarily" (yes, that is the quote from the 16-year-old) that would be her Mom coming to get her to spend Christmas day with her two half-brothers and her aunts/uncles, etc., etc/. Anyone care to make a wager when the "mother of the year" arrived to pick up said daughter? Try 4 p.m.!!! And, as testimony here as to how forgiving children can be too, that was fine and dandy with the stepgranddaughter because, after all, her Mom did come and get her and she will spend the next week with her Mom.

Excuse me if I go barf here but to me, something is wrong with this picture.

Am I somehow jaded in my approach? I can't say how I would have reacted to my mother had she left me waiting like that. I can say how much I cried as a child when my Mom drove off heading 100 miles north to where she was working and beyond where I was living then -without her -but with my grandparents and with my beloved aunt and uncle. I can't imagine my Mom taking any longer than absolutely necessarary for her to be with me -on any occasion and especially on Christmas. Just can't fathom what feelings, what emotions may have been going through the stepgranddaughter there today

And, as my son and I were discussing the issues about his dad and his feelings of generosity - well, as I so succinctly (I thought then) I put it - "F*** your Dad!" I apologize here to whoever my expression of my sentiments du jour may offend, but -to put it all another way perhaps "C'est la vie!" Yep, that pretty much does sum it up for me!

To Dad - yes I am happy you and your fiance or whatever she is to you at this point in time -not trying here to fe facioutious -but just giving dues, credit -and maybe perhaps a bit of responsibility due too where it maybe belongs -etc., ok, your kids although they are in their 30's and early 40's now too -are willing to be happy for you and your chosen other to do good somewhere along the way, would also like to see you willing sometime to endure a few aching joints and bones (arthritic stuff here folks) to be with them sometime over the Christmas holiday --maybe see that you also do believe too in some of the same principles that Grammy believes in too? Is that too much to ask?

My son informed me today that there is however a pecking order -that he, his sisters do appreciate what their Dad did felt good about, etc. this season but when push comes to shove, who was it wo told him, his sisters too long ago to "forgive, forget" what your dad did -or didn't do for your at this point in time.

And, ya know -I did that - I told them all along, don't be angry at your Dad for not being here, don't hold this or that or "whatever" against him because he was ill, very ill, for many years with an addiction. And now, at times, I feel my words to them have come back and are biting me in the ass! Yes, they are!

Anyone else here ever feel this way?

Please, feel free to express yourselves and how you would react, respond to similar circumstances too!

It makes me feel very angry, for openers, very sad too - that their dad after 35 years, suddenly gets the spirit, and felt sooooo damned good about doing something nice for a child he didn't know and yet, over that many years, never gave a thought to the children that were his -gives only fleeting thoughts it seems, to the grandchildren he coud so easily be enjoying, giving memories to them too for years to come.

Tell me -am I wrong in feeling very ambivalent there today -and sometimes, everyday too?

Bless you one and all - believe in the joy everlasting, peace (hopefully to come) now and forever! Amen!

Merry Christmas!


Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

you are correct that prayer is not answered in our time, but his. my prayer for my son is that i turn him over to god and hope for the best.

hugs, bee

SnoopMurph said...

You know, my father, when I was young (age 7 or 8) (at that time still married to my mom, but not living with us, off having affairs and living with another married woman-nice!) would call and say he was coming to pick me up the next day after school and to be ready. Instead of going to my grandmother's after school, I would wait at home by myself for him to show. I would make sure I was dressed extra nice, hair was neatly combed and I would wait. (he hated any disheveled appearance)He rarely showed up. Sometimes he would come a week or two later, never call, never apologize. I didn't have his phone number. This happened probably every time. Sometimes I would go months without a call or visit. And when he did, it felt like an obligation, not because he really wanted to spend time. One time, he picked me up, drove me to his girlfriend's house, left me in the car for almost two hours while he was inside eating dinner, hanging out and basically forgot me in the car. I had never been to this house and I was so meek that I just sat there, waiting and waiting. And you just wonder how someone can do that and what you have done to make people forget you.
I never understood it as a young child and I don't today, but I remember being hopeful every single time. On Christmas Day, when I was younger, he would literally come in for about 10 minutes, sit with me, bring some huge, expensive present and leave as soon as he could get out. It was horrible and you feel like you are worth nothing. I spent most of my Christmases crying in my mom's lap and she had no way to explain his behavior. I spent much of my life trying to do anything at all to have him pay attention and notice me. He rarely does, even to this day. He has only seen my older son twice and my youngest once. He has never visited me in AZ in the six years here. He told me when my son was born that he was finally getting the boy he always wanted. I laugh about it but honestly, that about sums it up. I was never really what he wanted.

So, after a very difficult path, I finally came to the conclusion after my children were born, that I cannot change him. He is who he is but I don't have to bend over backwards for him anymore. He never did it for me. I finally let go of trying to make him happy and became a happier person. I've tried to connect with him. I write favorably about him because he does actually read the blog and tries to keep up with the kids in that way at least. As a teenager, I would not have been able to do that. I understand the stepgranddaughter situation. You would wait forever, because you hope that they will love you enough this time to remember you when they said they will.

WOW-sorry, I unleashed a ton on you! Yikes!

Honestly, I don't forget a thing my father did or does. I remember those things as things I never want to repeat in my own life. My hugs goes out to the stepgranddaughter because I can identify with all of the emotions and things she probably didn't say or show.

sognatrice said...

Oh Jeni, I hope you can manage to have a lovely holiday season despite the family drama :)

Dave said...

My thought? Perhaps because it's a one time shot for him. He did good and he gets to tell his kids about it. It's probably a lot harder to do good for them after all of these years. He's, however skewed, looking for acceptance, forgiveness, fill in your words of choice.

Ponderer said...

I know, I know oh yes I understand. Mine would stuff an envelope into his young teenage sons hands with up to $500 in it, with instructions to go buy yourself something nice. Don't give your mother any.

No I was responsible for the boring things like a roof over their heads, food and clothes, discipline and daily love. He was super hero but he did not realize the boys despised him for it. It is hard to explain to young teenage boys though that morally they should help me out with the basics of life even if their father would not. Fortunately they were honorable young men and contributed some of it to the family needs.

Cariboo Ponderer

Keith said...

Prayer! Yes I believe in it. I also agree with you that He answers in His own time, and sometimes it is not always the answer we were waiting for.

Wow! I enjoyed your venting. Get it ALL out. You can be angry. That is allowed. But your ex did do a good thing, although it was not for his own kids or grandkids. I also respect his 13 years of sobriety. You know that you can never change him. Just be glad that you are a positive influence on your kids and grandkids and they know that you have sacrificed a lot to raise them. For that you should be proud.

Keep pushin on!

Paula said...

I absolutely believe in prayer, but also believe that sometimes our prayers SHOULD go unanswered because we don't always know what's best. Have you ever looked back on something and thanked God that you DIDN'T get what you wanted? I have many times!

I, too, raised my kids with an absent father and I'm pretty sure that I would be pretty peeved if they were to get a phone call like that even all these years later. Don't feel bad about your not so nice feelings. You deserve for him to NOT be in your head these days!

Travis said...

My father left us when I was 10. That was 1975. He paid $300 a month for his two kids. The day I turned 18, he never sent another dime. He did the same on my sister's 18th birthday. That was the extent of his legal obligation.

He never saw me play football. Although he had the money, he wouldn't pay for knee surgery when I had both knees destroyed. Every time I reached out, he turned away.

I can recite all of the excuses.

I have no relationship with my father, nor do I want one.

My mother never said a word against my father, until I said the first "f*** that a$$h***". Then she told me the stories from her perspective.

I asked him for his version of events and he wouldn't say. I haven't spoken to him in 12 years.

There's much more, but it isn't required to write. I understand your post.