It goes on and on for days, then suddenly it gets worse
Some days I just have too much "life". Wednesday evening is a perfect example.
After working a long day at the school, I went to visit my daughter and the baby. The kids are still staying with friends, while I live nearby with my young adult son. My daughter, grandson and I been moving around a lot during the past year. Technically, we're homeless. In a post a couple of months ago, I wrote about the living situation where my daughter lives currently - a household with a lot of females. Wednesday night I saw firsthand what she's dealing with.
When I went to the house, I had planned to just drop off money to my daughter, "Anne," rather than visit, so that she could get some rest. When I saw my daughter at the door, however, I could tell something was not right with her. She looked unhappy and stressed. I decided that I'd go inside to talk with Anne. I wanted to do this privately, away from everyone else in the household.
Sometimes the best thing a parent can do is listen
It took some doing, but I finally got my daughter to start talking. I listened. Sometimes my daughter doesn't want to talk about what's bothering her. But I've learned that if I can get to talk at all about something, she decompresses and eventually returns to her bubbly, inspirational self. But something happened that shot my efforts all to hell.
The mom of the house, "Mary," stuck her head in the room we were in, and asked suspiciously what was going on. But before we could answer, she said, "I don't like it when you two sit in here and talk about me." I looked at Mary in amazement. She continued to talk.
"I could see the tension in Anne's face when she came inside. So I guess she said something to you. She's been walking around here looking unhappy. I asked her what was wrong several times, but she wouldn't tell me. Now she's talking to you in my house."
Can't we all just get along?
The situation escalated. The more Mary talked, the more upset my daughter became.
"I didn't ask my mom to come inside, and we weren't talking about you!" Anne said in frustration.
"All you do is take me for granted!" Mary countered.
By this time, all the little kids and Mary's 19-year old daughter had come into the room. All I could think was that we needed to clear the room quickly.
"Mary, could we get all the kids out of the room so we can have a private conversation?" I asked as calmly as I could.
"You always take up for her!" Mary screamed. Clearly, she was taking this whole thing personally and was hurt. At that moment, I felt as if I were the only grownup in the room.
Now it gets ugly
It finally happened. My daughter exploded. She yelled back at Mary and started cursing. Anne is very respectful of adults, and it is not her personality to curse. When Mary's 19-year old daughter heard Anne's outburst, she got into the act and started screaming accusations at my daughter.
You get the idea. Meanwhile, there were all these little kids around us, including my 11-month old grandson. And my daughter just burst into tears.
Eventually, I got a tearful Mary to go behind closed doors where we could talk. I left my sobbing daughter in the other room. That was hard to do, but I felt that I really needed to talk to Mary first. I kept my composure as Mary sobbed about how she considers my daughter to be her own and how much she loves her, but she wouldn't allow any child to disrespect her. I assured Mary that my daughter was already grieving about her outburst and that she would apologize.
I offered to start looking for another place for my daughter and the baby to live. The last thing we wanted to do was to disrupt someone else's household. Mary wouldn't hear of it. I have been dragging the kids from one place to another for almost a year. Mary was the one who invited my kids into her house. She's really an angel.
Mary knows how much I want my daughter and I to have our own place again - how much I want to give my son his privacy back, especially since he lives in a one-bedroom apartment. There's one problem, though. My job carries lots of responsibilities, but it pays slightly above the poverty level. In addition, once I accepted the position, the state decided that I no longer qualify for public assistance for food. I'm appealing the state's decision. The assistance helped me to feed my family.
A return to peace
By the time I left Mary's house, she and my daughter were hugging and saying "I'm sorry." They were smiling. So was everyone else in the house.
I smiled back, then hugged everyone and said good night. I was very, very weary, but I didn't let it show. By the time I got home, I was numb.
I told my son about the incident later that night. He listened. Then he suggested that I should be putting more effort in finding my own place. His message was short and sweet. He was uncomfortable in his own house because I was there.
"You've been here five months," he said.
I looked at my son. I didn't argue. I made my bed on the sofa and went to sleep.
In the end, I know everything will get sorted out. We'll all get our lives back. For a couple of days, it hurt like hell. Here's to character-building moments.
Tags: anger, women, females, estrogen, family, parenting, children, friendship, stress, homelessness, naomi-usa, the journey to naomi