Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Can You Say About Mothers-In-Law That Hasn't Already Been Said?

In sharp contrast to the previous post about Chris' foster parents, there is Chris' real mom. I hesitate to write about this, fearing that someday it will get back to her, somehow. I can really sum her up in one description: she is manic-depressive and schizophrenic, if that gives you any idea of what we are dealing with.

A BIT of background: She was 15 when she had Chris. She had three more sons after that, spaced two years apart. The youngest was adopted by her half-brother and his wife and he only found out he was adopted about six years ago. The next youngest was raised by his father in Ohio. That left Chris and his brother Michael. She was far from mother of the year. She was a drug addict and would leave her kids with strangers when she was high. She once left the kids at the house and called her mom on the way out of town, to tell her to go get them. To this day, she insists that she left to be hospitalized for an illness. When Chris told her that his step-mom was hitting him for refusing to call her "mom", her only reaction was to say, "Well, I guess you better start calling her 'mom' then!" She dated guys that would beat on Chris and Michael until Chris got big enough, then he started beating them up first so they wouldn't touch him or his brother. She once called Chris over to help her because her boyfriend was beating her up and when he arrived and started hitting the boyfriend, she called the cops...on Chris! There are tons more stories like this, but I don't have the time to appall you with them right now. She will even admit that she wasn't a good mother, but somehow she still thinks that Chris "owes" her something.

I wouldn't blame him if he never spoke to her again. In fact, there are times when I wish he would take that route. But, I think the respect he gives her is based wholly on his Mexican heritage. Women aren't treated equally by the men (at least in his family), but they are taught to respect their mothers, no matter what kind of person she is.

She really drives us crazy. Her mental illness makes me afraid to leave the kids with her, but Chris refuses to withhold the kids from her. I worry about the negative influence she has on them. The girls caught her rolling her own "cigarettes" once, if you know what I mean by that! We were livid. Once, she had been watching the kids and only an hour or two after I picked them up, she called Chris threatening to kill herself. He is not the person to get sympathy from. He will call your bluff and force your hand. He told her to go ahead and hung up. Apparently she called her clinic or something and they called the police and had her hauled in to the mental hospital. She called me a couple of days later from there, saying that she would still watch the kids when she got out, that no one was going to take her grandkids away from her! I was thinking, "Well, let's get you out of a straight jacket and then we'll talk about it!" Sometimes I wonder if her craziness is an act to get attention. Chris thinks it's mostly that she fried her brain with all the drugs she has done in her life.

Lately, the source of annoyance with her has been financially related. A couple of years ago she had tried to get disability partly for a back injury she had gotten in a car wreck and mostly for her mental illness that renders her unable to work with the public. She doesn't deal with people well. Even the kids--she can only handle them for a few hours and then they start getting on her nerves and she has to bring them back. Especially Arrena, who takes great pride in arguing with her Gaga Pat and telling her off. Kimmy likes going over there because she is Gaga's favorite (which infuriates us, that she plays favorites, and that it's so obvious, even to the children) and gets whatever she wants. Billy likes going over because he likes her newest (fifth) husband Jack (their wedding is pictured here, "minister" in the middle) because Jack lets him do guy stuff with him. But, I digress. She was on welfare while she waited for the disability to be approved. That can take years, which I know from when my dad got it. But, when her welfare was finally cut, she went and got a job, ruining any chances of getting the disability by proving that she does have the ability to work!

But, her working is sporadic. She quits if someone ticks her off. Or she won't show up and gets fired. Then she will sit without a job for months. Her husband is a steel worker, and makes great money when he is working, but he often finds excuses not to go to work. Or he fails his urinalysis and gets fired. They have no children at home and lived in a cruddy neighborhood, so the rent wasn't high. They didn't have any bills besides their month-to-month bills, so they should have been fine. But, they could never pay their bills. They constantly ask us for money. She sometimes will call and ask if one of the kids can come spend time with her, but it's just a ruse because as soon as she comes over, she hits us up for money. They were really dumb because they took on two car payments! They couldn't pay their rent and were evicted. I couldn't understand where their money was going! They weren't paying their rent or their car payments, they were constantly asking for money, but they always had cigarettes and would be out drinking at a bar and obviously Jack was getting weed since he was failing his U/A's! Chris gets phone calls from check advance places, asking him to get a hold of her for them, because she owes them money. We have a car loan at the same place they do and every time Chris goes in, they ask him about his mother's payment. He gets so mad about it because she is an adult, why should they expect him deal with her? She is just another customer that they should deal with themselves, instead of calling him every time she misses a payment. She tries to throw guilt trips on us: "It must be nice to have two cell phones and a home phone when we can't even buy milk and toilet paper!" Like we should feel guilty because we go to work every day and earn what we have. Or like we should support them because they want to sit at home and be lazy. And I feel like when we do help them, even supposing we give them money for milk and toilet paper, we are supporting their other habits in a round about way!

Anyways, they are now living in a travel trailer (one of the dumb things they decided to spend money on instead of paying their bills) in an RV park. Half of our garage is filled with their stuff. They swore they were getting a storage unit and it would only be in there for a couple of weeks. So far, it's been there about a month and a half. With winter approaching, I'd like to be able to park my truck in there!

The other dumb thing is that Jack (who looks like Sam Elliot if he had ever played a biker--sort of a cross between his roles of Virgil Earp in Tombstone and Wade Garrett in Road House. Ooh, I just saw a picture of Sam Elliott online that looks more like Jack, so I'll post it here.) decided he wanted to have a motorcycle built. He basically had a frame and that was it. Maybe a few other random parts. Chris took him to see his bike mechanic and Jack left the bike with the mechanic who started working on it. Jack stopped paying him. The mechanic is holding his bike until he gets paid. This has been going on for a year or so. Finally in the last couple of weeks, Jack has started paying again. Who knows how long it will last.

When we had the going-away party for Chris' foster parents, we invited his real mom to come because she liked Jesse & Tena and wanted to say goodbye. We told her what time the party started and when she heard that Chris was speaking at the beginning, she said she wanted to be there for sure to hear that. She also agreed to help with the kids since we would both be busy. She finally showed up when the party was mostly over. Most of the guests had left, the chairs and tables had been packed away, and we were loading up the leftover food in the back of the truck. Kimmy ran after me as I was taking the apple crisp out to the truck and said, "Wait! Gaga Pat wants some apple pie!" I said, "Well, then grandma should have been here hours ago. We are trying to clean up." And since I refused to bring the food back in just for her, she was joking with Tena, that she would come over later and eat our leftovers. I said, "Oh, really? That's like the story of the little red hen who asked everyone to help her bake the bread. No one helped, but everyone wanted to eat it!" They laughed, but later she was complaining that I had told her she couldn't have any of the food at all. She comes over and raids our fridge any time she feels like it anyways. She has even eaten food that I had set aside for a meal.

Sunday was her 48th birthday, so we took her and Jack to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. I think it would have been easier to have gotten her a gift. The kids ate free and we still spent $90! She had the nerve to get mad at us because we wouldn't buy her an alcoholic drink. For one, not with OUR money. For two, she was taking two of the kids with her to spend the night! Why can't she just be happy with the expensive meal that she got?

I had to talk about all of this so I could get the negative out and continue trying to be nice to her. It's not easy.

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