A Rock and A Hard Place
Moving to Texas has proven to be more challenging that we originally thought it would be.
We haven’t really been able to develop a network of friends, though that’s entirely because of our schedule and our own inactivity in getting involved in anything outside of work. We haven’t explored much of the city and have stuck to most of the same areas we found and/or heard about when we first moved here. We also ended up in a difficult financial situation just weeks after getting moved in to our new home – and I think this has really played a part in all of the things I’ve mentioned above.
But frankly, all of these difficulties have really paled in comparison to one major change that we’ve encountered since moving: opening our home to Studly’s sister.
In my heart, I know that we did the right thing. But my. stinking. goodness… I have said more times than I would like to admit that I am just done. And honestly? That makes me feel ugly. I feel like an ugly, awful person. I catch myself being so unkind in my thoughts. I am not mean to her and I am not cruel or rude to her outwardly, but within myself – I am not being a good, grace-extending, loving, Christian person.
I’m now in this constant struggle between not letting her manipulate and take advantage of us and also not being unfair or unkind, or not extending grace to her. I mean… she’s only 18 years old. She just doesn’t know anything other than life in her home growing up – and she was always allowed to be disrespectful and manipulative and just get her way there.
So yeah. It has NOT been easy. It’s a very big source of stress for me, and often Studly as well. It has shown us a lot, though… in our approach to people and in what would otherwise be much like an approach to parenting. In that sense – it’s been good for us. It’s started a lot of conversations about various situations and how we seem to approach them from a different perspective and that’s been good for us. But all in all, I’ve discovered that this was something we were not even remotely prepared for.
I think in most similar situations, any new roommate situation would be difficult, but not necessarily at this level. Most of the time, people are appreciative and considerate of someone opening their home to them. They are grateful, not to where they are constantly thanking them or groveling or anything of that sort, but at least enough to take extra care or to be more respectful of them and their home… their space altogether. However, this has not been our experience thus far. Not even a little bit.
We have gotten to the point where we are no longer interested in helping her out. That may seem harsh, but frankly – she seeks help from her parents, her boyfriend (who lives back in her home state), and anyone else she can find, really. It’s not as though she’s not getting help or advice when she needs it.
And to clarify, her “help” is not in anything other than situations she gets herself into – for example, she quit her job without having another one lined up because she didn’t like it, and so she stopped making money. She waited (I kid you not) 2 months before applying anywhere. 2 months. We had agreed to not expect her to chip in for bills until she found another job, and I honestly believe that to be a mistake. She now had no reason to look. She was living for free in a nice, large home. She had nothing to pay for except for gas (which we later discovered wasn’t even a concern because her father was sending her gas cards), so why bother trying to change her situation? She had free food, free internet, free cable… why work for anything?
She also recently rescued a kitten… and brought it home. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for rescuing animals, but we weren’t much a part of this discussion (read: she didn’t ask). And we don’t do cats. They are sweet and I don’t mind them, but Studly is allergic and we have a dog that is obsessed with them (read: loves to play with them and doesn’t understand why they don’t like him), and we just do NOT do cat litter in this house. (Sidetone: hats off to those of you who do… I just cannot stand the smell and the way I feel like it changes the smell of a house) But she shows up at home with a kitten in her coat anyway, as though it’s her world and we’re just living in it. And what’s frustrating are all the lies – she told Studly that she found it in a tree. She later told me some story about finding it in a dumpster behind her work. Does she not think we ever talk to each other?
Apparently not, because she also kept texting Studly on different occasions and asking him if she could keep the cat. “It’s so cuddly” or “It’s so little” or “It’s so sweet”… no, no, and no. The girl never cleans her bathroom to begin with (the only 1 of 2 house chores she’s been asked to do… the bathroom that SHE uses, mind you… and she expects us to be okay with her having a cat in that mess? That toilet was lined with black stuff because she didn’t clean it even ONCE after moving in (although she was given everything she needed to do so), and she thinks that having a cat seems like something that makes sense?! Goodness… Studly told her that pets can be expensive and to “take it from us”, based on what had just happened with the Pup a couple of months ago (*coughninethousanddollarvetbillcough*), and that her life was too transient right now for a pet. She didn’t seem able to argue those points, so the requests to keep the kitten finally stopped (but I later learned she kept asking her parents what she could say/do to keep it and if they would take it until she got her own place).
I asked her what her plan was with the cat and she said she was going to put it in a box in the bathroom she uses and contact shelters in the morning (found out later that this didn’t happen… she let her wonder her carpeted room and it had several accidents, which she swears never happened, but I SAW them when I went in to feed the cat after she stayed out stupid late again, one night – the thing is maybe 4-5 weeks old, mind you… it can’t go 12 hours without food or water, so ust add that to the long list of proof that she can’t be responsible).
She told me, when I asked the next day, that none of the local shelters are taking any cats and that even if they were, they charge money to drop of animals, which she doesn’t have. (queue sympathy tears… see? I’m telling you I’m not very patient with her in my heart). I started contacting shelters on my own and found that quite a few would actually take her in and foster her. So when she kept telling me that no one was contacting her back or no one would take the kitten, I just set it up. I wouldn’t normally take care of anything for her, because I feel like she gets too much of that with her parents, but I was NOT going to let her keep doing this and stretching things out just to keep the cat in our house… it was not going to play out like that. No ma’am.
I worked with on organization to finalize a foster for the kitty and I told her it would cost $90 for them to take in the kitten (to get its shots and medicine it would probably need, since it was abandoned so young, and eventually get her spayed), and that she needed to coordinate the drop-off with the foster lady. She told me she didn’t have the money and it was too much… though I’m not sure what she planned to accomplish with this point. I told her that of all the places that I contacted, they all cost anywhere from $90 – $120 and that’s because it would cost a LOT more than even that to provide initial care for the cat. When she kept insisted that she didn’t have the money, Studly and I told her that we could loan it to her, but that it needed to be paid back because our budget was already set and it was pretty tight (remember the financial situations I mentioned above? Yeah… so this was 100% true).
Conveniently, after this point, she told me that she looked at her bank account and was able to “make it work” and would be meeting the person from the organization the next day. So… I have to be pushy and draw a hard-line and then suddenly things conveniently work out? I am so tired of being the bad guy.
Anywho – those are two very silly little stories. I could go on and on, though, to prove the point. Upon moving in, she put her stuff all over the pace, instead of what normal people do and keeping it in her spaces – medicine went into Studly and I’s medicine cabinet in the kitchen (she moved our stuff to fit it in… I can never get anything out without knocking stuff out onto the floor, now… there is NOT room). She moved our stuff and created herself a shelf in the pantry (umm… make yourself at home?). She constantly leaves boxes and recyclable stuff around the kitchen instead of opening the garage door and putting it in the bin like we all do. She won’t put the clean dishes away (the only other of her 2 house chores she’s expected to complete) until I have to ask her to, which results in dishes piling up because I REFUSE to be her mother and don’t feel like I should have to ask her when she knows good and well that they are clean (she will take dishes out of the dishwasher, use them, then set them dirty on the counter and walk away like nothing’s wrong). She has gone back home to visit her boyfriend (and barely seen her parents or brothers) twice since moving here in August (and all before Christmas)… and each time, I’ve gone in to check the status of that bathroom and it was disgusting, people. *gag
You know what? I feel like you really need to understand this level of gross… so be warned, the pictures are ridiculous:
Please note the nastiness of that toilet, as well as the piling trash (one overflowing bag she just didn’t take out at all, instead of her usual dumping it by our kitchen garbage and leaving it there for US to deal with or the dog to get into, because… you know… we get such joy out of touching her gross bathroom trash)… and then there’s the nasty dirty floor.
Again… ??? And this awkward camera angle was in an attempt to NOT take include the pile of bras and underwear that is sitting just around the corner to the right. Also, please note the presence of the toilet brush sitting in the sink area… it was still wrapped in plastic from when it was purchase by her mother after she first moved in. Further evidence that the toilet had never once been even remotely cleaned from that point until this picture – the weekend after of Thanksgiving. And the sink area is FULL of crap – trash, used paper products, makeup caked inside the sink, fast food trash and cups, etc.
And I’m sure you’re asking yourself – why does she even have these pictures? Well, I’m glad you asked.
You see, my mother-in-law and I have a good relationship. And she was telling me that while my sister-in-law was back in town there over Thanksgiving and she finally got a chance to see her (by taking her to lunch (because until she offered to do that she was conveniently ‘too busy’ or something like that… funny how things suddenly changed, huh?), my ever so kind SIL was telling her all kinds of stories… one of which was apparently that my house was disgusting and never clean, and this was accompanied by stories of us treating her like a live-in maid, not letting her use an empty closet to store her stuff, and telling her that she should just not bother coming home at night. Umm… ‘scuse me?
So I took these pictures of HER bathroom (spared her the explosion that went off in her bedroom) and sent them to her mother. I said something like “So our house is unbearably messy? Really?! Because my bathroom and kitchen are currently perfectly clean and this is her bathroom…” And her mother didn’t even doubt me, because we’re adults and have no reason to lie to each other, but then this was just icing on the cake. She’s been to my house many times. I am not one of those people to constantly clean and scrub things. Things do have a place and I prefer that they be in them, but in all truth, we were still going through boxes, little by little… you know the ones full of just the most random stuff that you can’t figure out what to do with or if you should even keep it? Yeah. Like 4 of those boxes, which… big frikkin deal. And they weren’t anywhere near my SIL’s spaces anyway, and in no way could have effected her. Beyond that, anytime there were dishes around the kitchen, that would be a direct result of her not putting the clean ones away so that I could wash them. And I’m not even remotely sure where any other level of “unclean” could have come from, considering I’m a nazi about wiping down counters and tables (it’s my “thing”… don’t judge me). But as with everything else she mentioned, I’m not the slightest bit unsure that she didn’t just pull it out of her butt.
For whatever reason, she thought it would gain her some level of sympathy to tell her these things. And lucky for me, I found out later on that she told her grandmother the same things, as well as aunts and uncles at Thanksgiving dinner. Mother. Of. Pearl. What is WRONG with this girl?! What more does she NEED?? Where does ANY of this even come from?
Why the heck wouldn’t I let her use a completely empty hall closet that’s right outside of her door? (we have 4 of those, mind you… 4 just on that level of the house. We are NOT hurting for storage.) And other than Studly asking her to be home by 11 during the week so that our security system doesn’t wake us up in the middle of the night with her coming and going and us having work the next day, why would there even be a remote conversation about what she did with her time? He did tell her “we aren’t your parents, and if you’d rather stay somewhere else at night… that’s your prerogative. You don’t need to ask or tell us that ahead of time. You’re an adult.” But how she could innocently misconstrue that as ME telling her to not bother coming home at night… I have no idea.
So THIS is what we are dealing with. This level of inconsideration. This measure of ungratefulness. I don’t have any illusions that she could possibly understand what we’ve given up for her to live with us… the way that this has completely turned our world around and changed everything about home life for us. She can’t possibly understand that because she’s 18. She’s been handed everything in her life. And sometimes I feel like we’ve just perpetuated that same spoiling expectation. So I am done.
I’m really struggling with all of this, to be honest (if you can’t already tell). It’s effected me way more than I ever anticipated it would. Then again, I wasn’t even remotely prepared for things being like this. I assumed there’d be mutual respect and we’d give each other space (which is a whole ‘nother issue I haven’t even addressed here) and that would be that. Welp… I was wrong. Way wrong.
We committed to having her live here for a year while she gets residency in the state of Texas so that she can go to the school she wants up north and get in-state tuition. To date, she still has not even gotten her license changed. She hasn’t even applied to school. She did, however, convince her parents to get her into another brand new leased car… while she still didn’t have a job.
The level of frustration is high. And I’m just at a loss. Studly and I have discussions on her being a teenager and blah blah blah… but I can’t relate to that. I was FAR from a perfect teenager (is that even a thing?), but I just can NOT relate to this level of disrespect and this inconsiderate nature. I never said intentionally hurtful things to people or told my mother I’d never speak to her again because I didn’t get what I wanted from her. I didn’t keep my room very clean, but it was just clothes lying around… there was no trash all over my room and my bathroom (which was shared with my sisters) was NEVER that disgusting. I had to start supporting myself at 17 because of our financial situation, and I did so. I didn’t ask my parents for money. I didn’t ask them to co-sign on a car loan with me because I didn’t have credit, much LESS expect them to get me a brand new lease. I was independent and self-sufficient and frankly, I don’t think my parents would have tolerated my being anything else. So I just have the hardest time wrapping my brain around that kind of behavior.
And her coming in to the house at 3 or sometimes almost 4 in the morning several times a week… what in the world?! Nothing good happens after midnight. And what upsets me the most is that I find myself not caring what she’s doing or who she’s with. But shouldn’t I? I may not be her mother, and that’s how it should be, but shouldn’t I still care about her? She’s been doing this thing off and on since she moved here where she’ll make a friend in some random place (Target for example) and then go hang out with them and be out stupid late the next couple of nights. Which is completely her prerogative (except that it goes against something we laid down when she first moved in), but… she doesn’t even know these people. They could be ANYthing and she’s out with them Lord knows where until ridiculously late. Shouldn’t I be concerned with that… just as a human being?
So this is my struggle. I’m seeing sides of myself that I don’t like. I’m uglier then I ever want to admit out loud. It’s making me more and more cold and indifferent to her because I feel like I’m burnt out. She could care less how anything she does affects anyone around her… she’s always the victim, never apologizes, and nothing matters except for how something effects her. And I can’t wrap my mind around that kind of selfishness. So instead, I start to become someone who I do NOT want to be.
I don’t want to be this person.
I want to be hospitable. I want to be kind. I want to be loving, even when people aren’t considerate or respectful. And this is all showing me that I’m not very good at that. I thought I was getting better at it, but maybe I was just fooling myself.
I could try to explain it away… I could tell myself “it’s because she’s doing it over and over again…” or “normal adults don’t act this way, it’s not the same…” but does any of that matter? No. It doesn’t.
So I sit here in this difficult place… the tight space between what seems like two giant, unmovable rocks. And I constantly struggle to find the balance between extending grace and not letting her take advantage of us.
I’ve always been a big fan of a saying that I heard (and I can’t for the life of me remember who said it) that goes something like this: People will only ever treat you the way that you let them treat you. I believe that is SO so true. But how do I change how I let her treat us without being harsh or unkind or unloving? How do I do this while still extending grace?
I feel stuck.
I could really use your prayers… or well wishes or good vibes, if you’re not the praying type. I want to REEK of love and grace, but don’t want to be a pushover or allow us to be used and disrespected. I am certainly learning a lot about myself, but not much of it has been good. And I seriously want to change that, but am struggling to find the right direction… and for now I just find myself praying the same prayer, over and over, asking for patience and the ability to extend grace nonetheless.
Anyone else feeling like they’re in a really tough spot these days?