My parents turned 80 last April.
They were married for about thirteen years before they finally had me.
I am an only child.
I really wish I could write a feel-good memoir about how my mom and I have always been great friends. I wish I could say that I was daddy’s girl. But, alas, that is not the case.
I am a disappointment to my parents because I never could meet their expectations in any way.
My kids don’t know their grandparents.
My Timeline as an Adult Daughter
I remember dreaming as a teenager how there must be some magical moment when I had freedom and trust and could do the cool things I saw others doing with their friends, peers, family members.
That magical moment never happened.
I was told to leave home at 18 when my father found a condom in my purse. They didn’t want me living in their home anymore – even though I was a good person, no drugs or problems. My boyfriend was a good man. We were both on a good trajectory in college and planning our lives and futures. My parents gave me the ultimatum that I could live at home or leave my boyfriend. It was such a difficult decision since I had no savings or any way to live on my own while continuing with college. I only worked part time at a drug store. Edward worked part time at Costco while living at home and attending college too. I often wonder if I could have managed and left, and what my life might have turned out like if I had rebelled then.
I eloped when I was almost 21. Then I was disowned for my first marriage. They mailed me a torn-up copy of their will.
They were angry when I got pregnant and I didn’t get a nice baby shower, just tiny token gifts from my aunt and cousins and co-workers. My parents came to the hospital to see us, but they got very upset and jealous that my first husband’s parents were there, and my mother-in-law was helping me, so they left in a huff. My mother arrived at my home the next week and I had to make her dinner while exhausted.
They weren’t much help with my first child and constantly complained about her, but they were relieved when I got divorced.
My parents adore adore my current husband.
The best thing I did was leave Georgia so it put some distance between my parents and me. I literally went through withdrawal for several years from all the abusive expectations and I didn’t know how to be alone or how to be an adult or wife or mother.
Very unfortunately, my husband’s parents both passed the first year we were married, so they never even got to meet their son’s kids. His mother did throw me a lovely baby shower and gifted us a lot of stuff that last Christmas.
My parents traveled to Texas for the births of my middle two kids. They stayed in a hotel. They were no help and I was more stressed out knowing I had to entertain them and keep peace. I was very sick after my second child was born and my father was just furious. After a Caesarean section birth of my third child, they wanted to go out to dinner, so I had to drag myself and a newborn with my toddler and young child to a restaurant or have no dinner. My husband was lost during all these games and didn’t know what to say or do.
My mother traveled to Hawaii for the birth of my last child, but my father couldn’t be bothered. She stayed in a hotel on Pearl Harbor naval base. They had both just come out for Christmas the previous year and it was too much for him to sit in an airplane from Georgia to Hawaii again. My mother was unkind to my three kids and I couldn’t really trust her or rely on her to help at all. She accused them of stealing her bracelet! It had fallen off the nightstand. My husband didn’t know any of this. It was very stressful when I should have been enjoying my newborn son.
During my husband’s first deployment in 2011, my parents decided that was a great time to visit me and the kids in Utah. They chose to come in May – not in March for my birthday, not the first week in April for their birthdays or my son’s first birthday, not around my third child’s birthday or on Mother’s Day, but just a random time in mid-May. They refused to stay at my house (even though I offered them my bed) and instead opted for a nearby hotel. They sauntered over midday, about lunchtime and naptime for my son. It disrupted our whole schedule and they kept telling my kids to go away and play outside or in the basement. I was super stressed and confused. My mom made my second child cry about something irrelevant and then lied about it. They didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything except sit on my sofa and they were very upset my TV was in the basement because they didn’t want to walk down a flight of stairs. Then, they got really mad and left early and I later received an actual letter in the mail – hate mail! – outlining everything that’s wrong about me, my children, and my lack of good mothering skills. Also, that I should hit my children to make them never cry and behave perfectly.
We didn’t see my parents again until May 2014.
Before we PCSed to Germany, I felt we needed to visit my parents…in case something happened while we were on another continent for three years.
It was a very stressful couple weeks.
My kids were banished to other rooms, constantly told to be quiet. The wildflowers they picked for their only grandmother were thrown away. We didn’t go anywhere except to the veteran’s park in their town.
I was told not to cook anymore since it was too messy, made too many dishes, was more food than they were used to having.
My father promised my son to take him to his barber to get haircuts, but the day arrived and my father took off on his own for the entire day and no one knew where he was. My son was devastated.
My father was also going to take my eldest child on a special trip to Andersonville since we had been studying the Civil War. He told her she didn’t deserve the trip with her bad attitude.
They were apprehensive when we went to Stone Mountain Park and Stately Oaks. They didn’t feel comfortable with us borrowing one of their three SUVs to go to the Atlanta aquarium. But they didn’t want to go anywhere with us.
Then, we visited them again June 2017, upon our return to the States, and it was again miserable.
My parents had promised my eldest their 2010 VW Beetle and money to help pay for college, but they swore they never promised any college money and told us all she didn’t deserve the car. They then handed over the car last minute, but made it clear they didn’t want to and that it shouldn’t go to her.
We left earlier than we had planned.
So, I haven’t even seen my parents since 2018.
They drove up to Ohio from Georgia, to surprise my husband for his promotion in February 2018.
They then drove up again for Christmas 2018 while he was deployed, but vowed they couldn’t travel anymore after that.
It was a little bit easier on my own turf with older kids who have learned to stay away from their grandparents and monitor their moods, which is sad.
I invited my parents a few times – to be told they couldn’t make it. It’s a lot more difficult for us to travel with four busy kids and two cats. My parents are retired, wealthy, no responsibilities. They could go anywhere, anytime…they do own three SUVs!
My father has had at least two tantrums when he gave me the silent treatment the last couple years – no phone calls, no emails, nothing. My mother is almost amused by this instead of disturbed. She feels superior, I guess.
We’re punished by no birthday cards – no gifts, no money, no phone calls. It’s like we’re erased, forgotten. How do I explain this to my kids?
My mom broke her sternum in a random fall and I didn’t find out for days.
My father fell and bruised his rib over the July 4th weekend and I didn’t find out until later that week.
My mom was rushed by ambulance to the hospital due to severe back pain and she had to demand he call us. She has a broken vertebra. It’s been a long time healing and she can’t drive, can barely walk with a walker. How about those three SUVs now?
I called them on Thanksgiving and that wasn’t the most pleasant conversation when I risked asking what their plans are for their future. They got mad that I brought up the forbidden questions and didn’t talk to me for two more weeks. My mother is never great with communication and my father emails me weather and football reports every few days like everything is just fine.
It’s hard being their daughter.
My children don’t have grandparents.
We’re jealous when we see families with grandparents. Most people assume this is the norm, and I’m sure it is – families who live nearby and enjoy each other, rooting for victories and sorrow with mistakes. We don’t have any family. I keep trying. It’s like banging my head into a brick wall.
I long for more. I yearn for my kids to launch into the world and fly back frequently to the nest. I wait with open arms because of the bitter memories I harbor of my own parents. I don’t want my kids to ever feel unwanted or unloved.
It’s a deep pain. It’s hard to swallow, even as an adult, that a parent simply isn’t interested in their child and never has been. Some parents will only approve of their children as long as the children follow the narrative those parents have chosen for them instead or embracing honoring who each child IS as determined by the children themselves!The Wellness Point
- Dear Uninvolved Family, I’m Sad You Don’t Care Enough to Know Us
- I’m Done Trying To Include Uninvolved Family
- Mothers Who Can’t Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters by Susan Forward
- Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration by Karen C.L. Anderson
- I Hate You – Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman
- Recovering from Narcissistic Mothers: A Daughter’s Guide by Brenda Stephens
- Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride
- Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself by Shahida Araby
- Recovering from Emotionally Immature Parents: Practical Tools to Establish Boundaries and Reclaim Your Emotional Autonomy by Lindsay C. Gibson
- Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson
- When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
- Parenting Forward: How to Raise Children with Justice, Mercy, and Kindness by Cindy Wang Brandt
- The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff
- The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron
- The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them by Elaine N. Aron
- The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Lerner
- The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You’re Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate by Harriet Lerner
You might also like:
- Grieving Family Who Are Still Alive
- Raised Better
- I am not insignificant
- Parenting Young Adults
- My Father is a Racist
- What Respectful Parenting Looks Like
- Breaking the Cycle
- Disciplining without Control
Linking up: Eclectic Red Barn, Pam’s Party, Pieced Pastimes, Silverado, Grammy’s Grid, Pinch of Joy, Random Musings, April Harris, Create with Joy, Suburbia, Mostly Blogging, Ridge Haven, Garden, Jenerally Informed, InstaEncouragements, LouLou Girls, Simply Coffee, Fluster Buster, Homestead, Life Abundant, Soaring with Him, Joanne Viola, OMHG, Penny’s Passion, Life Beyond the Kitchen, Artful Mom, Imparting Grace, Slices of Life, Modern Monticello, Answer is Chocolate, Lisa Notes, Being a Wordsmith, Pieced Pastimes, Momfessionals, Memory,
Anita Ojeda says
Jennifer, I’m so sorry your parents have never appreciated you or wanted to have a real relationship with you. I can tell from your words that it hurts daily. Your children are lucky to have YOU.
Hazlo Emma says
So sorrry Jennifer,
You are brave to pour out your heart and hurt of the pain you are struggling with as an adult daughter.
Your worry is magnified because of your lovely kids.
As a favorite of my dad who’s no longer with us – i can almost relate. I have a twin sibling and others so we are more than you. Our family dynamic is also unique. But aren;t all families? We all knew who mom’s favorite was – but alas that relationship was severed. Its no easy now that dad left us.
You have the power to take it upon yourself the burden of changing the trajectory and course of your children lives, and that of their chidren, and so on so that this buck of hate, selfishness, and intolerance stops with you.
At least, you owe it to your children to resolve what is within your control – what is not, just trim off!
Keep sowing seeds of love, hope, and forgiveness by the power of He who called you – your mourning will turn into dancing again.
Lauren Sparks says
It’s kind of you to tell your story so others in the same situation don’t feel alone.
Lisa Blair says
I’m so sad to hear of these difficulties, Jennifer! Humanity seems to be either beautiful or ugly. I’m sorry you are having to deal with ugliness.
My parents died young which left my children without grandparents, so we “adopted” some! We met the sweetest older couple who were longing for children to love on…and we loved on them too. They joined us for Thanksgiving and sent emails for birthdays (limited income prohibited mailing cards). Recently, they attended several of our children’s weddings.
All that to say, perhaps there is a loving older couple that can step in to love on you and your children.
May you and your family have a beautiful Christmas together!
Paula Short says
Jennifer, I appreciate you sharing your story with openly, with heartfelt vulnerability and transparency. I too am an only child, my parents were in their 40’s when they had me. I appreciate your articles as I hope they find their way to someone who needs to hear them and find hope.
Thank you for sharing this with Sweet Tea & Friends this month.