I visited my daughter, Robin's website yesterday, as I do occasionally. It is my way of updating myself on her life if she has updated her website. She has used it as a means of putting news of her life out there, ostensibly for friends? or cousins? Or me? I don't know why she puts the information on there but she does. Not often. Sometimes a year and a half goes by before she changes it. Usually she changes it when something significant happens like a death or the loss of a job or the start of a new job. She talks on it as though she is talking directly with someone but it is unclear who she is talking to. It sounds as though she is hopeful that her cousins visit the site. They are far flung, from Florida to California and elsewhere.
They are the people who she seems to look forward to seeing on holidays at her father's and stepmother's house. She has referred to that house on one occasion as her stepmother's house, although it was originally her father's house and I am sure still is although perhaps it is now in both his and his wife's name. But I found that reference to it in her stepmother's name as odd as though she had been declaring some sort of allegiance to her previously problematic stepmother.
(Note added on Nov. 5, 2005: I later learned that she refers to the house in that way, not due to an allegiance but due to the way that the house looks. I think this means that her stepmother decorates it in her own unique way.)
This brings me to the Breaking News part. Yesterday I discovered a long rant uploaded on October 17, 2005 by my daughter on her website which revealed that she has estranged herself from both her stepmother and her father. Her stepmother is a realtor. Robin is selling her house and moving to another state with her husband. Robin decided not to use her stepmother as the selling agent for her house. This resulted in a heated argument which culminated in Robin deciding to become estranged from her. Then Robin's father entered the fray after initially trying to stay neutral. That ended with Robin estranging herself from her father.
Robin was so furious that she claimed a domain name that reads (with the "insert name here being stepmother's full name): www.insertnamehereisabitch.com.
I guess I can consider myself fortunate that Robin never developed a site called: www.mymotherisabitch.com.
In her rant she goes back to her wedding day of 1991 and how her father who was my ex and myself made the day all about us (her perception) by not being on speaking terms. And somehow she perceived me as acting as though I was not part of the wedding ... despite the fact that I was tied up all day behind the camera because she had asked me to be the photographer! At her request!
(Note added Nov. 5: She differs with my account of this. She says I offered to be the photographer. Our memories differ. No matter which memory is correct, I didn't photograph the wedding to be a bad mom. Possibly both of our memories are somewhat correct.)
I can empathize with why she is angry with her stepmother and her father as I think it is outrageous that they would insist that she use her stepmother as her sales agent if she didn't want to. Although I don't know their side of the situation and don't know if they might feel that due to other circumstances that it would have been considerate to hire her stepmother. But I tend to think I'd be in agreement with Robin even if I did know all the facts. (Note added on Nov. 2: Since I wrote this post, I am thinking that I could be wrong on this point. After subsequent events.)
Another thing that I learned from Robin's rant is that she and her husband are buying a $624,000 house! This blows my mind! This from the person who sent me a tin of cookies for Christmas in the year prior to her estranging herself from me because they were short of money! This from the person who resented my asking her to remember my birthday! Her financial condition now must be great!
(Note added Nov. 5: My observations on the cookies and her finances were not meant as criticisms. I was expressing my astonishment. She took it as a criticism when she read this. The typed word has such limitations. It is easy to read in whatever we want to read into it. I am impressed with how they've done. It's great! I was noting the contrast between then and now. It is mighty mindblowing! I noted the birthday thing because her reaction to it will always stay with me, not for some other reason. Her reaction was the catalyst for subsequent communications in 1995 between us that culminated in this estrangement. She interprets my having mentioned her resentment to my request much differently.)
I am happy that she can afford (Wow! Can she really?) such an expensive house. I am awestruck! I had no idea that they were doing so well. She walks dogs for a living since last fall. Robert was a loan officer for a nationally known tax preparation company. He does have a new job. That is an expensive house by my standards. I have some upscale friends who are pretty indulgent and they wouldn't have bought a house that expensive. The taxes are significant too. Over $4,000! I am impressed!
It was a very educational rant that she put online. My overall feeling is amusement along with some irony and a lot of surprise. I am amused because in 1995 she chose working on a relationship with her feelings-constipated father rather than have any relationship with me and now she has decided that working on a relationship with him is futile. She has decided to protect herself from him and her stepmother. There is irony that she made that choice in 1995 with full knowledge on her part that she had had a history with him of failed promises and lack of closeness. I am surprised because ... she stuck it out for the last ten years with a relationship with them and why? It seemed that she would always choose him no matter what he did, no matter how critical or distant he was.
What this means for the future? I don't know. I guess it is a positive step as far as its increasing the chances that I might hear from her again. In the short run I don't think it changes anything about her estrangement from me but maybe this break will be a positive one in that she never did hold her father responsible for much of what he did and she never was willing to confront him on anything. So maybe she needs to do this before she can contemplate repairing our relationship. As long as she was "hostage" to her father, she may never have been able to see herself in a relationship with me, a relationship of which her father would disapprove.
In her rant I am struck by her perceptions, as shown in her description of her wedding day back in 1991, that the day was not all about her but about "us" because her father would not talk to me. As though we hogged the attention which is so far from the truth. But that is her perception. Interesting. Why? The day was truly about her and Robert and their wedding. The fact that her father and I were estranged was just a fact of life, something that Tony refused to do anything about and something over which I had no control. I did the best that I could that day. I was the photographer. I was friendly with everyone although didn't try with my ex as that would have been useless. I wasn't able to play "mother of the bride" much under those circumstances of being responsible for the photography. I am sure my ex did the best he could under the circumstances.
(Note added Nov. 5, 2005: I never saw him do anything that I could describe as hogging attention. I know that I didn't do anything that could be described that way either.)
I ponied up willingly my half of the cost. I am not even a wedding type person! My first wedding was not a big wedding and was one that I did more to appease others than to make myself happy. My second wedding was a $10 trip to a justice of the peace! I don't believe in fancy weddings. But I didn't attempt to impose my own beliefs on Robin. Yet she faults me for not being the kind of mom who gives special wedding parties and who helped her plan the wedding. I lived 350 miles away and she told me repeatedly that she had everything planned and under control herself. Yet she resents to this day, 14 years later, that I was not her idea of a "normal" mother because I didn't do the whole big pre-wedding and wedding stuff. Does she have any idea just how clueless I am about weddings or even how socially incompetent I am at giving parties? I guess not.
Her lasting resentment on this point of her wedding day is surprising, shocking, and sad. She did have a lovely day. It is sad that she remembers it with such resentment. Her father and I were only two of many people there and I am sure that he was friendly with many people that day. There were no scenes, no unpleasant arguments or hostile interactions. We were all on our best behavior other than Tony refusing to talk to me which had already gone on at the point fo 6 years. I am struck by her perception that our estrangement made the day all about us as though a 6 ton elephant had been invited to the party and had sat in everyone's laps! Apparently she was very sensitive to our estrangement, more so than I knew. I too had wished that we were on speaking terms. Another odd thing was that she blamed me for it even though it was her father's decision to estrange himself.
I think what bugs her so much about her wedding day is that she wanted a perfect day that met all of her fantasies of it and she will never be able to remember her wedding as perfect because her father and I were not on good terms. The truth is that weddings, like everything else are never perfect and if it hadn't been the situation between her father & I, it would have been another imperfection that would endlessly bug her. It is seeing the glass as always half empty. How can someone be happy if they can't accept that shit happens and sometimes people don't feel or act as you want them to? Expecting everyone to feel according to your expectations and your schedule is just unrealistic. If a marriage is a happy one, why not celebrate what the day meant and that it was the beginning of a great relationship? Why 14 years later continue to express resentment because two people there were no longer friends? We weren't friends but we were all doing what she wanted us to do with the exception of his refusal to speak with me or to me.
While she despised the estrangement between her father and me, she has done exactly the sort of thing that she had despised. She has estranged herself from me, my mother, her father and her stepmother. She had blamed me for the estrangement with her father as though I had had a choice in the matter of her father's not talking to me and its having been a problem for her state of mind at her wedding. Now she seems to have developed some understanding that estrangements are sometimes necessary although she still thinks that our not talking at the wedding was due to our childishness. I would have been happy to be able to speak with my ex-husband.
(Note: On Nov. 5, 2005 I edited this paragraph above. I didn't realize that my daughter would read it and I wrote it off the cuff. This paragraph about estrangements was confusing even to me when I reread it. I have rewritten it for the public's understanding of what I was trying to say. I have learned since I wrote it that now she says that she blamed both her father and myself equally for the estrangement between him and I. I don't understand even having half the blame put on me since the estrangement with him was never my decision and I would have been much happier to have been on speaking terms at the wedding and prior to the wedding and after the wedding.)
Other things I learned in her rant: that her stepmother has diabetes; that Robin's mother-in-law is dying; that Robert has a new job; that they are moving to another state. I learned that they think of Robert's mother as the only one who "truly loves and cares for us". That is truly truly sad and not true. I love Robin. I don't love her as much as I once did which I would describe as adoration. I no longer adore her. But I love her. I can't help but love her. Sometimes I think this is unfortunate. I think as a mom I am wired to love my daughter no matter what.
My overall feeling over her new estrangements is amusement. It is hard to feel sympathetic under my circumstances. It was her choice to ally herself with her father and stepmother. It is impossible for me to feel badly for how the situation is deteriorating between them all although my old self would have been dismayed.
I never would have expected that things would turn out this way with Robin becoming estranged from everyone. She is 39 now. I don't see her as the helpless teenager who needed me as an emotional support as I once saw her. I don't see her now as needing my assistance. She is an adult and has certainly proved that she is capable of taking care of herself and is as capable of doling out hurt as much as anyone I've ever met. So I confess that my main feeling is amusement, not compassion, even though I can empathize with why she is angry.
More on this later when I have more time.