I’ve taken off my Parent hat. I’m taking a leave of parenting. Call it a mental health break. Call it a time out. Call it whatever you want. I’m calling it a refusal to be emotionally abused.
Manipulating. Lying. Disrespecting. Game playing. Dishonoring. Two of my daughters have recently taken these behaviors to new heights. I’ve experienced this before with Emily many times, but not with Kate. This is all so uncharacteristic. I feel like I need to call an exorcist.
My last blog post gave the sordid details about the event that was the catalyst, but I cannot help but think, now after more than two weeks of the silent treatment, that the spark occurred much earlier, in some event or happenstance that I may never know all the truth about. For Kate to carry this uncharacteristic behavior so far and for so long, something had to have happened that she is trying to hide. And since Kate never behaves like this, and because I have an active imagination (already established many times over), I figure that “something” had to be really huge. Why else would she go on and on with this behavior, days, weeks after sobering up?
It takes a lot of energy to stay angry at a person. It takes a lot of energy to keep a running game of manipulation and deception. Where does Kate, a working mom of two small children, find the energy and the time? Where does Emily, now ensconced back in grad school, find the brain power to scheme and deceive?
Rose and Brianna have been telling me that Kate’s issue is all about me not going to see her very often. Kate lives two hours away. It’s not like she’s across town and I can just pop in on my way to some store. But those two were insistent, so last Saturday I swallowed my pride and sent Kate an email offering to come spend Sunday with her and help her get caught up on chores, just spend some time together. Not surprisingly, she replied that she had all of her chores done and there wasn’t anything to do. But, she added, I was welcome to visit and they would be home all day. It was the first communication we had had in two weeks. She was telling me she didn’t need me, but that was part of the whole screaming fit Kate had performed for us on that dreaded night of Mom’s Weekend. She didn’t need me, but I’d better come anyway.
Well, that pretty much put me between a rock and a hard place so early Sunday morning I headed for Kate’s. When I arrived, I knocked on the door before opening it. Kate was standing in the kitchen. She didn’t say hi, didn’t greet me at all. Just spoke to her daughter, telling Eve who was at the door. Kate’s husband said hello, then Eve and I chatted for a bit, and then I made my way in to the kitchen to say hello to my grandson, who was eating breakfast in his high chair. I tried several different first and second lines to get a conversation going with Kate, but she didn’t engage. If I asked a question, she answered with as few words as possible and then settled into silence. Kate’s husband seemed to be busy with chores, coming and going from the kitchen, not saying much. But he never says much. Kate continued to make breakfast and when it was ready she made a plate for her, her husband, and Eve and set each plate at the table. Kate sat down and began to eat, then casually told me there was more food if I wanted any. But there wasn’t a chair for me at the table and I wasn’t really hungry anyway. So I just stood and waited for them to finish. Then Eve and I went outside to play for a bit. Then we came back inside and played for a bit. Kate didn’t want to talk about anything. Not the weather. Not her job. Not books. Not the kids. After two and a half hours of trying to start a conversation, I gave up and left. Eve gave me a big hug and kiss. Kate didn’t even say good-bye.
I came home and reported to Rose and Brianna. They continue to be as confused as I am. At least Rose was kind enough to tell me that I’ve done everything anyone, including Kate, could expect of me.
I called my ex-husband a couple of nights ago and told him I’m taking off my Parent hat. I explained that I am not on guard duty and that he is going to have to hover solely on his own. It’s his watch. There was no doubt about my determination, no confusion about my words. He clearly understood the hovering duties are his. The fact that he told me Kate has been pulling away from him all summer only served to make me more nervous. His statement that Emily is jealous about how much time Brianna has been spending with him sounded just as weird as everything else about this whole effing mess.
What will tomorrow bring or next week or three weeks later when my grandson celebrates his first birthday and Kate celebrates her 29th? I have no idea. I may not even get an invitation to the party.
But I do know, since all this drama is going to kill me, that I need to take off my parent hat for a breather. I don’t know for how long or how successful I will be at non-parenting. I’m going to take it one day at a time. And today, I’m on leave.