No words. Only acknowledgement. My blog started nine years ago and still exists. Yes, I’m surprised. But happy.
I want to emphasize I am not perfect, I never claimed to be, and I know I never will be.
However, I find the older I get and the more I learn about my family, the more disconnected I feel from them. This is especially true of my father. It amazes me how I had the best relationship with him as a kid, but as an adult, it’s the polar opposite. I suppose that’s the curse of losing one’s innocence.
The biggest barrier is my attempts to learn financial responsibility. It really astounds me no one – absolutely no one – in my (immediate) family has any clue about finances, and at this point, it’s now a case of being unable to teach an old dog new tricks. My biggest mistakes – attending college when I wasn’t ready and financing my first car with a co-signer – came out of pressure, but the upside is those mistakes made it abundantly clear my family, no matter how much I love them, are not the people to go to for life advice. Regarding cars particularly, knowing about them does not correlate with having any financial sense.
For the record, I am aware financing a car can be a good decision. However, my father makes barely more money than me (I bring in roughly $2K a month), but his car payment plus insurance nearly equals my household’s rent. And in all the years he had to save money with his late girlfriend paying most of their household expenses (including rent), he never did. Simultaneously, my dad complains constantly he hates living with his dad. Find the problem.
I taught myself planning, budgeting, and saving, and as of late, I’m learning about investing, which a good friend got me started on. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. But I reached the point I’m able to plan out a month’s worth of expenses, and move them around as needed. Though I have a bad habit of frivolous spending I’m trying to kick, I stick to my budget, including savings, and I don’t sacrifice bills for pleasure. The bit of money I spend frivolously is the remainder after all my week’s expenses are paid.
It’s indeed strange to be berated for trying to be responsible, and I feel the more I try to pull myself together and recover from my mistakes, the more distant I grow from my family. It’s truly not something I like, but have no clue how to fix. How do you re-connect with people you can’t talk to, you can’t look up to, you can’t trust with advice? I don’t mean my personal goals. I can’t talk to them about the future, about finance, about feelings, about anything. How do I re-connect without feeling like I’m making myself small?
If you know, please teach me.
Today, I turn 27 on April 27th. It’s not really a happy birthday because lockdown and all, but I have the day off work and that’s always nice. I’ve read when your age matches the date, it’s called a “golden birthday” or “royal birthday”. Cute, but nothing special to do today.
Still, I love my birthday. As unoriginal as it may be, it is mine. Millions of other people’s too, but I’m one of them.
Lately, I did a lot of thinking about my past. Or rather, my family’s past.
I don’t know the history between my parents and I probably never will. Each tells a different story. What I do know the two sides of my families were never civil until recent years. And “civil” in this context means “don’t associate with the other”.
Some say children are blessings. That doesn’t describe my birth into my family. My at-the-time impending arrival was not met with the impatient excitement I often see on Facebook. My parents were never in a committed a relationship. They dated for a few weeks or months, banged at least, and split. Neither wanted to be a parent, nor was either in a position to be a parent, but three fourths of a year later, I would come out.
Eventually, I learned my family’s actions weren’t my fault, but I still thought of myself as the reason. After all, having a mouth to feed when you can’t feed your own hardly makes life easier. My mom was utterly lost with parenting after I was capable of doing more than crawling around with a bottle. My dad never tried to begin with, and made it known he wasn’t interested. He was involved in my life, but not beyond being the “fun guy”, and even that was only because his parents made him take part after I was proven to be his.
My dad started a relationship with a woman who had a son, and treated that kid worse. Most of the time, my father was nice to me, but to the son of his now late girlfriend of 19 years, he made it blatant he didn’t like him. He abused him. I didn’t grasp the situation until I was an adult and realized my then-stepbrother was mistreated and ignored by everyone: his mom, my dad, and his dad. Yet was still nice to me. He ran away at the age of 13, and I regret I wasn’t a better little sister to him.
And of course, there’s the simple fact my birth brought together two families who utterly despise each other. The dysfunction peaked during my teen years, but they hated each other long before that. Had I not come, my parents would’ve stayed apart, and two families who dislike each other wouldn’t have had to be tolerant (to put it nicely) for two decades. That’s a weight I can’t quite get off my conscience.
My parents are in a relationship now, but only because 1) I am an adult, which frees my father of any and all parental responsibility, and 2) loneliness. Yes, throughout all of those years, even with his girlfriend, he was attracted to and wanted to be with my mom, but I was there and being with her meant being a full-time parent to me. I’m still in the way, as I live with my mom due to finances and her being schizophrenic, and my dad’s view of my sister (not his child) and me is we’re “cock blockers”.
What’s on my mind lately is how much of my family’s dysfunction is the result of me and how much is the result of their own choices.
It goes without saying the responsibility of kids brings on a whole new kind of stress. It’s the one choice that cannot be undone. Breaking up a relationship or moving to a town aren’t easy processes, but they can be done. Once a person is born, there is no going back. Only age or premature death removes the parents’ obligation, and that’s still only the obligation, not the person’s life itself. In other words, birth cannot be reversed.
“Well, duh, Kaye. Everyone knows that!”
Yeah, me too, and yet, many people put more thought into their dinner plans than becoming parents. If statistics are to be believed, roughly half of the time, it amounts to “oops!”. Yes, I know happy accidents exist, but I was not one of them, which is what this post is about.
My mother was against abortion (take note I said was) and didn’t adopt me out. While I recognize those are sometimes hard choices, they are still choices, correct? Or does being against abortion and adopting out render having a child no longer a choice? I consider my mother better than my father for being a parent, but it was clear to me before my age hit double digits she was doing it because she was stuck with me. Granted, there is no manual for parenting, so she didn’t know what to do when the baby grows beyond being an autonomous crying burrito that needs more than milk, a bath, and a clean diaper. Err, what do you do with them?
However, if beliefs about abortion and adopting out your child are choices, that means keeping the child is a choice too, right? Does that mean the true reason for my family’s dysfunction is my parents’ choices? Or am I assigning too much blame, and my being still plays a part? Are my being and their choices equally responsible for my family’s dysfunction? Is it possible my existence truly is the sole reason? It goes without saying life was easier for all involved before I came to be, and in almost three decades, their positions haven’t changed. Yes, both of my parents are in the same places they were in almost thirty years ago.
I don’t doubt my mom loves me now, but while I hold respect for her, she truly was not a good parent. She was better than my father only in the sense she was there, not that she was competent. She tried her best, and I will never say she didn’t, but her best is on par with patting one’s self on the back for not driving drunk. Given the choice, I would venture into the past to erase my birth for the sake of my mother’s life. I have no hesitance about that.
Ultimately, what’s done is done, and since my attempts to take myself out never came to pass, I’m here until something outside of my own hand removes me. Three events so far failed to do so, so it seems that’ll take a while, but I won’t push my luck.
Although, my boyfriend tells I am a blessing to his life. It’s nice to know my existence benefit at least one person (of course, sooner or later, he would’ve met someone else; I’m one of about 166.7 million women in our country, after all).
This is an expression I noticed goes in a cycle.
I remember as a kid (age still in single digits) in summer camp, the counselors taught us a song about how “we” (the present kids) are the future.
My 27th birthday is next month. I don’t think I’m the future anymore.
Exactly how long are kids the future?
Legally speaking, childhood lasts until the age of eighteen. But life does not, and it goes without saying people are in their twenties (especially under 25) are considered adults only in the legal definition of the word. One of my former bosses told me I’m a baby after I told him I was 23. Barring premature death, 18-year-olds are still have a long future, but no one is singing about how young adults are the future.
No one idealizes teenagers either. In fact, the teen years are notoriously hated because they’re not adorable cherubs anymore, but they’re still too young to be (legally) kicked out of the house. Nobody gushes about cute teen clothes or posts a thousand pictures of a cute thing their teenager did (that’s a good thing!). So, I’d argue few people consider teenagers the future either. At least, not unless they’re joking the future is doomed, thanks to whatever stupid trend is currently getting attention on the internet.
That leaves kids under the age of 13. That’s a very short future.
I was born in 1994, so I’ll use that as an example. After 2007, I was no longer the future. I still had a (terrible) future, but as far as society was concerned, I was no longer “the future”.
Here’s a hopefully not-too-crazy question: Why is the future always romanticized? Why does nobody care about the present?
Presumably, the thought is the present sucks (and I wholeheartedly agree!), but the future eventually becomes the present. If the future is bright, but the present sucks, and the bright future eventually becomes the sucky present, why do we continually look forward to the future? This cycle never stops, which ultimately means it never gets better.
That was certainly a depressing revelation.
Children are the future in the sense they will grow and age over time. But at 13, 18, 25, 30, they are still the future. I’d argue anyone with at least twenty years left to live is the future. But kids are cute blank slates, so it’s much easier to picture a bright future of them before they reach that future.
Every terrible person in history started out as an innocent baby imagined to have a bright future.
It’s (not really) funny children are considered so important for the sake of the future, yet in the present, they’re treated more as things than people. My existence is the product of two people who went “oops” and didn’t know what else to do. So are their existences. And that’s the story for nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States.
Put the pitchforks down! I didn’t say unplanned parenthood equates to being a bad parent.
My point is one would rationally assume if children are the future, and it’s so important, more thought would be put into having a child than what’s for dinner next week. But until recently, having kids was thought of as more “that’s what people do”, to the point it was considered absurd to not a parent. Not having kids is more acceptable today, but there remains certain groups and people (particularly highly religious, but not always) who believe not becoming a parent equates to failing in life. The most common reason given is it’s selfish not to have them, completely ignoring the only possible unselfish reason for having a child is being forced to. Not to mention it’s completely natural to act in the interest of one’s own life. That’s the point.
The retort to that is usually it’s natural to want kids. Homosexuality is natural too, but that’s condemned to the point of being a crime in some countries. Next!
I strayed far from my original point…
To sum all this up, I agree children are the future. They can’t not be. However, they don’t stop being the future when people stop singing songs about it.
People stop being the future when there no longer is a future – bright or dystopian – to look forward to. Maybe the present sucks because more time is spent fantasizing about what can be done later instead of now.