Moving On

Convinced that I will never be capable of reconciling with my mother, and discovering that my father is far more gone, mentally and emotionally, than I ever was aware, the Next Big Step seems to be Chicago. Charlie and I have been discussing it off and on for at least two years, so it’s not a huge new thing. It just seems more real now than it did before.

I have a cousin who lives there with his wife (and another who might also go), Bea’s godfathers are also planning a move, and I would hope friends would be willing to visit. After all, it’s only a three-hour drive, not a three-hour plane ride.

I finally graduated with my BA, finished my minor in psychology, and even managed to pull up my GPA one more tenth of a point to a 3.6. I got a 640 on the verbal section of the GRE, and some good letters of recommendation from professors. I have applied to two schools thus far: DePaul University and Columbia College. The last ditch effort will be the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. A program that, while I could never afford it, would hopefully guarantee me a job after finishing the degree. I actually need to finish that within the next week.

Each program is slightly longer than the other. Medill is one year, four quarters, and costs about $48,000. I would finish with a Master of Science in Journalism. DePaul is two years, three quarters in each, and is the most affordable. That’s an MA in Writing and Publishing, with an internship that might get me a job right after graduating. They also offer an assistantship that covers all tuition, plus a living stipend. Columbia College would be an MFA in Creative Writing (non-fiction), so it’s at least three years and is more expensive than DePaul.

I have also applied for several jobs. Two at Groupon.com, one of those for which I’ve already been rejected. I think I flunked their copy editing test, though I pored over their style sheet and cannot figure out what I did wrong. The other is “Quality Assurance” and pays a pittance. I also applied for a proofreading position with a company I’ve never heard of, and a management job at a large chain (not Starbucks).

I’m, of course, having second thoughts occasionally. What if it’s too hard? What if I don’t get in anywhere? What if we can’t afford it? Where will Bea go to school? Moving after almost five years in the same place? How will we ever manage that? Where will the money come from?

Then I tell myself I — and most human beings — are incredibly adaptable. We will figure it out. Yeah, I don’t like the idea of leaving all of my friends, and especially my aunt who is Bea’s godmother, but her son lives in Chicago, and my other cousin (who just started working with me at the coffeeshop) would also eventually like to end up there. In fact, we joked at Thanksgiving that he should move with us and be our live-in manny.

I haven’t been writing or socializing much in the past year or two. A large part of it is the baby (who is now 18 months, so not much of a “baby” anymore), who demands an incredible amount of my attention. She is lovely and funny and entertaining and fascinating, but she is also very high-energy and difficult to manage. She’s stubborn and pig-headed, which is not a huge surprise.

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My mother has decided that Bea is The Only Joy in her life. She has said this to me on more than one occasion. She’s posted it on Facebook, on other people’s photos of Bea, and written it to me in emails and letters. I eventually blocked her from seeing anything on my wall or photos I’ve posted. The mess that happened last May has just gotten more and more complicated. She left my dad, emptied their house, and basically did nothing while he withered away in a psych ward besides haranguing me for access to — what turned out to be — theirĀ joint bank account. She couldn’t figure out how to log in, so she decided he was hiding things from her. She accused him of creating alternate identities, of hiding money and financial information.

After living with my father for the past (almost) eight months, the only thing I can figure she was talking about was the business name he had created for consulting work. Yes, he took from her parents, and from his last employer, and he was punished with a felony for the latter (though nothing yet has come of the family stuff, which worries me, insofar as what he could charged with, or the fact that he wasn’t the only one sticking his hand in the cookie jar) but if he’d had any money stashed away, I imagine he would have used some of it to at least buy food rather than eating ours. And watching us sell all our most valuable possessions to buy him medicine, put gas in his car, and pay his bills.

It’s been a long eight months. One day he’s up, the next he’s down. When he has money (or positive things going on), he’s high as a kite. When he has nothing (money or otherwise), he’s in his room for days – if not weeks – at a time. We want to take advantage of the fact that he’s now working full time, has a steady, great income, as well as being approved for disability, and let him take over the lease.

If I was offered a job tomorrow, it would definitely be a tremendous effort to get things squared away. So, every day, I try to do a little bit to get things ready. Start a pile of things to donate, put something up for sale on CraigsList. I want to get my dad to start putting the utilities in his name, and fix the damn window on the Matrix so we can trade it in.

This is beginning to be a bit of a ramble. And will probably get worse. Some day, when I have the time, I would like to sit down and write out everything that has happened in the past year. 2010 was, by far, the shittiest I have ever had. It sucks that Bea’s life has been complicated by all of the things that have taken place. I wish I could have relaxed and enjoyed her. I tried, but sometimes, having your dad come downstairs and start shouting things at the TV makes it difficult to relax. It’s like living with Kate, only worse. Always on eggshells, never sure what he’s going to do.

I don’t know how he will be living on his own, but I think placing him in his own apartment would be a bad idea. I think it would be too depressing for him. At least he has the comfort of this house and, what we don’t want or cannot take with us, we can leave for him and get later or just let him keep. The landlord, I’m sure, will have no problem letting him take over the lease. After all, we’ve been here over 4 1/2 years and have never paid the rent late.

All that being said, there is a part of me that wishes we could stay, that I’d be offered a great job here or a great MA program. But nothing has come up or through. Whenever someone says, “Oh, I don’t want you guys to go,” I just have to say, “Thank you.” Because I want to say, “Can you fix all of this? Can you make my dad sane again? Can you get my mother to relax and stop clawing at me to get to the baby?”

If my mother were able, I think she would kill me in my sleep and take Bea. I’m so angry and frustrated with her. The guilt trips, the crying, the whining. The complete lack of responsibility or accountability for anything that’s happened. She feels as if it’s ALL my dad’s fault and he left her with no choice. She refuses to think she made any choices that negatively affected any one else, least of all my relationship with her. All she wants is THAT BABY. And it makes me physically ill. To see her coo and cuddle and chase after Bea when I can’t remember the last time she ever touched me.

The first time my mom ever said she loved me was the night I had Bea. After racing to the hospital (an hour and a half drive that I think she made in 45 minutes), then bursting in to the delivery room in the midst of me pushing, we couldn’t get her to leave until almost 9 at night. Charlie has to escort her to the parking garage. I didn’t even want her there, and had told her as much in the past. I didn’t want ANYONE in the delivery room – even Charlie, if he decided he didn’t want to be there. So as she’s driving home, I guess she called my phone and left this long, weepy voicemail, at the end of which she says, “Love you guys.” Not “I love you,” but “love you guys.” I was 33 years old and it was the first time I ever heard my mother say anything like that.

She never said she was proud of me until my dad pointed it out a few months ago. It’s like a party you can’t make it to. Sure, you have to work, but it would be nice to at least be invited. Instead of ever taking the initiative to say anything positive to me, my mom has to be told by myself and other people the issues we/I have with her, then, all of the sudden, she starts saying this shit.

It’s too little, too late, for me. As terrible as this sounds, I’m not interested in forging a relationship with her. I think she’s emotionally unstable and her obsession with Bea is bordering on frightening. She needs to be happy with herself and her choices before she expects a child to create happiness for her. I know a lot of friends who have had children recently and are having difficulty dealing with their parents. I know I’m not alone, but I have never, ever been close to my mother, and have never forgiven her for the things she did to me when I was younger. As I’ve gotten older, she has continued to prove that she isn’t just an unhappy person, she’s miserable and lonely.

A part of me does feel sorry for her, which is why I asked Charlie if he would be willing to let her come over while I was at work. She has, MANY TIMES. In fact, when I sent an email saying she should contact Charlie to set up time to see Bea, I don’t think she even logged out of her Yahoo account before snatching up the phone to call him. And she’s done it, over and over again. And every time she has come out, she’s cried. Every. Single. Time. Weeping, sobbing, crying, whining, moaning. As Bea gets older and more aware of what’s going on around her, she gets upset when my mom cries.

I wonder, if she could just keep her shit together, would I have less of a problem with her coming out? Probably not. Her behavior merely fuels my frustration.

Maybe my dad drove her crazy after 38 years of his antics, but SHE chose HIM, I didn’t pick either of them. But I got stuck with him when she left and he tried to kill himself. She has barely spoken to him all year, and immediately applied for a divorce. She won’t talk to me about him at all any more, which makes me even angrier because the first couple of months, she would write me these NOVELS every day about how he ruined her life and her world came crashing down around her, blah, blah, blah. I tried to actually communicate with her, but she just stopped addressing anything about my dad at all.

Now she’s convinced that he is filling my head with lies about her. She thinks he’s the reason I am upset with her and don’t want to hang out and watch her fondle my daughter. It has nothing to do, I guess, with the fact that she told me on more than one occasion she should have aborted me, never wanted kids, and hated having children.

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