Oh...how to deal with the people in our lives who are presumptuous about situations, inclinations, attitudes, and critical of how we live your life all at the same time.
I've written before about our ill parents, and how awful we've felt about not being able to be there and help in person. Particularly with my mother in law. This has been difficult. And because of her compromised immune system and our own continually embattled immune systems, we have not been able even to visit with her. I did send a care package when she first began her treatments. We have had frequent phone conversations, but to be honest life has been busy for us and for them running for treatments almost daily, and well, I'm going to admit that our finances are extremely strained.
So, for the past several months, we've heard of how much charity they have received from members of their community and their church. They've been given gas cards, groceries, mail delivery. I also heard how the grandkids came to stay for several weeks near Christmas, and ate and loafed and hung out with their friends, and caused even greater stress in an already frail and ill woman. And I've heard in the background of every call, animals hooting and hollering (one of which is mine who is living there because she didn't respond well to the addition in our family, and one of which belongs to my sister in law who didn't want to risk moving it to her new home that didn't have a fenced yard). In the fall, we were asked to supply our father in law with a new winter coat so he wouldn't look so frumpy at my mother in laws hospital visits. I ordered a jacket online and had it shipped directly to her. I did this as frugally as I could given that we have our own circumstances to consider. That jacket was then returned and while I did get a refund, I also got dinged for restocking fees. That little episode caused me a bit of heartburn and hurt feelings, but since it was my husband's parents, I shut my trap.
We've continued to hear more and more frequently about how tight their finances are getting, but as real troopers go, we've declined to engage while still trying to let them know without going into any detail that we understand how difficult tight finances are. We always knew it would be tight when we chose to move here, and we're busting our butts to keep treading the water, and we have a plan that will see us inching out of the hole we're in over the course of the next several years. But my in laws haven't figured any of this out, firstly because they shouldn't need to know, but secondly because well, knowing would or could cause more stress than she would need to have given her current health situation.
Then this morning I get a note from my husband. "There it is" it says. When I asked for detail, I saw a request from my in laws for money. They've maxed out their credit cards and have no money left in their bank account and they have a hundred animals to feed, and it's all gone to getting them back and forth for her treatments...Can we send them some money? Fast.
I'm partly not surprised. I had been expecting this. And the sad part is that we both expected it. The only time we really get any focused attention from his family is when they need something from us. Which is where I am going with the "presumptions" part of this article. We drive comfortable cars, we have a nice home, we make good wages, but the truth is, everything that comes in and sometimes more, well...it's all spent. We're not trying to keep up with the Jones's but we are trying to make a good life for our family. That never comes without sacrifice and hard earned work. But when others see the car or the house, they think there's way more where that came from, and "brrrring, brrrring"... there should just be plenty to go around.
And what really gets me is that I feel awful that we can't help any more than we're going to...and we will help however we can. But when we deliver what help we can offer, I know there will be a look of disappointment and shock that it's not more. And what's worse, is that I know for certain that my husband's siblings have not been asked for the same help. They don't make as much as we do...nor do they have as much to pay as we do. But the fact of the matter is, there are three kids.
I don't begrudge helping anyone. I do begrudge being used and abused and rejected. And I wish to God it wasn't our family that made us feel this way.