Monday, December 15, 2008

The Drama of (Extended) Family Life

My sister moved out of my mother's house this weekend.

She is 25. She has a son who will be one on Christmas Eve. She had scheduled a Birthday party for him on Sunday. On Saturday, she cancelled it.

For the last year the three of them have been trying to live under the same roof--while living separate lives. It hasn't worked.

My sister had the downstairs living room and dining room (she has mobility issues and managing the stairs with a baby was not wise) and she and Mom shared the kitchen. My mom lived upstairs with her bedroom and a sitting room. It was quite cozy.

In anticipation of the birthday party, my Mother and she decided that they would switch floors. Mom set up a two burner hot plate, a small fridge and a microwave for my sister upstairs. She had a bedroom, a play room and a kitchen/sitting room. But the upstairs/downstairs rearrangement happened not just because of the party, but for another reason, too. There's no other way to say it: my sister is a slob. My mom wanted her "public" rooms back. (In fact, my mom's house was so uncomfortable I visited maybe three times over the last 12 months.)

The only difficulty with this new arrangement was that my Mom had to move her bedroom to the basement. (Unlike my sister, she didn't want nor did she need to set up her bedroom in the dining room). But the basement is crowded with 60 years of past lives, and the furnace is noisy. We were actually talking about turning the dining room into her bedroom just this past Thursday as Mom just wasn't getting any decent sleep.

She wasn't walking this past week: she was staggering from cleaning job to cleaning job. When she would get here to listen to the kids practice the piano, she would eat a bit of yogurt--and hopefully sleep a bit. More often she had to rush home to bring my sister something (formulae or pablum or diapers) or take her somewhere (out to buy something) or babysit.

My sister has been going out the past few weeks with friends--friends from Junior High (grades 7, 8, 9) she had only reconnected with in the past two weeks. As she was spending more and more time with them, Mom became less and less willing to babysit. Finally, she came home from Church on Sunday to find my sister, the baby and the high chair missing. Mom called her at the friends' place to find out what was going on and my sister told her she was moving out. She'd be back next week to pick up her stuff.

I spent Sunday afternoon helping my Mom gather all my sister's stuff and put it in one room. We're changing the locks this afternoon. (Mom's afraid my sister might come in while she's out working and "help" herself to whatever she wants. Mom wants to be there to control what leaves the house. Yes, things are that bad.)

The only really truly sad part of this whole story is my nephew. Mom is grieving badly for her grandson.


drwende said...

This sounds incredibly stressful for everyone involved.

It also sounds like one of those situations that got so wound up that there was no longer any way for anyone to do anything right, so your sister's acting like a grown-up and moving out may have been the only solution.

Alana in Canada said...

If you are offering sympathy, then thanks. But my sister was in no way "adult" about the way she did this. It was cruel and heartless. I'm not sure I'm inviting her for Christmas I'm so angry.

drwende said...

I'm offering sympathy from the perspective of not being sure exactly who did what to whom, other than that everyone's miserable.

scb said...

I don't know what to say other than {{{{hugs}}}}.

It is a harsh way for her to have done what could have been done gently and with caring. I hope things will heal in time. {{{{more hugs}}}}

lorijo said...

Alana, I am very sorry for you Mother- it must be awful.

But I were there I would make sure that you invite your sister to Christmas. Not for you sister. For your nephew.

As a mother, I am worried for him. If your sister is spending more time with these new "friends" and less time with him, there is a chance for something to go horribly wrong. You know what I mean. She has already shown some faulty judgement in how she treated your mother and moved out. If you alienate your sister you can't check on his progress and his safety. That's what is important right now- he can't protect himself.

Anne (in Reno) said...

Whoof. It is a good thing your mother and your nephew have you around. How close are you to them? Could you spend more time with your nephew or is that too difficult? At least your mom seems to be able to take a breather at your house. This kind of drama always makes me so sad for the kiddo involved.

zooza said...

So sorry to hear about such strife. It sounds awful for everybody involved and I hope things resolve themselves as best they can soon.

But, on an unrelated note - and I'm coming a bit late to the party, here - can I just say a huge congratulations on quitting smoking? That's really wonderful.

Frank said...

just hugs from me- I can't imagine how stressful this must be, especially in the run up to the holidays...

Colleen said...

ummm...that last one (Frank) was me. not even the slightest bit aware of what could have happened there, but it was me and not some weird stalker named Frank!

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