*binging on Diane’s chocolate chip cookies*
Part of it is cooking most of Thanksgiving dinner and cleaning while on my period. Menstruation always completely exhausts me at the best of times. Moreso when I’m about to entertain folks.
Part of it is the entertaining of folks. As an introvert, being around people exhausts me. I’ve written about that before, so I won’t rehash the point.
But most of it is stress. Stress aside from the entertaining of folks. Stress centered around Lyndon.
I’m out of cookies. *considers going up to the kitchen for more cookies… but the kitchen is like thirty steps away… too much effort*
Gabriel said something the other day that crystallized the problem for me. (This is a superpower of his. Non-lame.) He said that – well, I don’t remember exactly how he put it, but paraphrasing: we’re a family, and Lyndon’s not trying to integrate himself into the family.
Yeah, pretty much. When I went to live with… have I given them codenames? *too lazy to check* Rosemary and Marvin, I cleaned up after myself, made my own food, was always friendly and polite, let them know what I was doing. And none of that describes Lyndon’s stay with us at all. If he’s here – which is increasingly seldom – he’s closed off from us, earphones in, watching a movie or texting or something. He clearly expects me to clean up after him, fix his meals, entertain him, because this is what his mother has done for him all his life… and I refuse, because this is not my responsibility.
I know that this is the kind of woman Sarah is. She’s basically Superwoman, and I’m not exaggerating. But I am not Sarah. This is not the mold I fit into. But I know that this is what Lyndon’s used to, and my failure to conform to this is vexing him.
I’m not refusing because I’m a jerk. I’m actually a very nice person. I’m also not refusing because I dislike Lyndon – I like him. But here’s the thing: Lyndon’s 21 years old. He’s an adult. Adults don’t tend to have their (step)mom cleaning and cooking for them all the time.
I would be more inclined to do so if Lyndon were working 40+ hour weeks, like Gabriel is. I have very little problem cleaning and cooking for Gabriel. It’s my contribution to the family. Out of the 100% familial contribution pie… thing… Gabriel has his percentage (more than fifty, like sixty, sixty-five percent?), and I have mine. Therefore, the pie chart of familial contribution is taken care of. Maybe it’s a diagram of some kind, contribution versus cost, I don’t know. But what I’m saying is, Gabriel contributes to the welfare of the family by working at his hateful job and doing the man stuff – he contributes external to the home. My contributions are internal to the home – making sure everything works and is in decent order. Reiterating, cooking and cleaning.
If Lyndon were actually making the slightest effort to become part of the family, I wouldn’t resent this so much. But he isn’t. He doesn’t buy and make his own food, he isn’t paying rent, he isn’t cleaning up after himself… he’s not contributing anything, just taking.
…This entry is titled ‘Thanksgiving’ and I haven’t said a word about it yet…
So Gabriel wakes up and immediately starts getting the turkey around. He’s smoking it, so it’s going to take several hours. He makes coffee, in the kitchen doing about fifteen things at once, and Lyndon – standing right in the kitchen next to him, doing nothing – asks him if he can get him some milk. Gabriel just kind of looks at him.
I get up, get some coffee, commence the cooking around 8:30. Lyndon almost immediately says that he’s going to go to the gym “to lift real quick”, and leaves. I expect him to be back in an hour or so, he’s got to clean up his stuff (since he’s staying in our living room), and we want him to clean the upstairs bathroom (since he’s now the only one using it).
Hannah comes by at around 11 AM. Still no sign of Lyndon. I want the guest bathroom cleaned before Diane gets here (her train is scheduled to come in at around noon). Wonder how much time is required to lift. Not my problem, I say to myself (this is becoming my mantra), resume cooking.
Gabriel and Hannah leave to pick up Diane around noon. Gabriel says that he’s sent a text to Lyndon, summoning him home to clean up his crap. Also, that the train’s late, they won’t be back until around 1. Okay, that’s fine.
Lyndon finally shows up around 12:45, just about the time that I decide to clean the freaking bathroom myself (a thought which fills me with chagrin, as there are no messier and more disgusting creatures than teenage/young adult guys, plus the fact that I don’t really have the time for this). He informs me that he’s taking a shower, grabs most of his stuff from his bathroom, and vanishes.
Hands covered in sage and olive oil, I stare into the bathroom. It’s a pit. A pit that my mother-in-law is going to see and possibly be astonished at. I can’t clean the bathroom and cook at the same time.
Nope. Not doing it. If Diane wonders, I’ll tell her the truth: Lyndon’s problem, not mine.
Gabriel and Hannah return with Diane, turkey is checked, we all decide to play a card game while we wait for dinner. Except for Lyndon, he vanishes with his cell phone and earbuds. The only thing we hear from him for the next three hours is “I’m hungry. When are we going to eat? I’m hungry.” Finally I say, “Lyndon, there’s an entire kitchen of food right there, go ahead and fix yourself something.” He doesn’t though, just gets progressively more sullen. Meanwhile, Gabriel, Hannah, Diane and I are playing cards and having fun.
Dinner is finally ready. Hannah sets the table, Gabriel’s getting the turkey, I’m dishing up the food, Diane’s helping when she can, Lyndon’s sitting in the living room on his phone. As soon as the turkey hits the table he starts dishing himself up, not waiting for anyone else before he starts eating. He occasionally offers up a compliment (“this gravy is amazing”), but that’s all. As soon as he’s finished, back to the phone. Meanwhile, everyone else is giving and receiving thanks and compliments for their contributions to the meal (Gabriel for the turkey, Hannah for the pecan pie and some work on the potatoes).
Once we’re done, I get up to start clearing the table. Hannah’s immediately up as well, carrying out dishes. Diane gets up to start washing dishes while I’m putting food away. And I’m in the kitchen, scooping the mashed potatoes into a container, thinking Surely now. Surely he’ll see that he should be contributing something to the family meal. If Diane and Hannah had done nothing, that would have been fine with me – they’re my guests, and I don’t make my guests contribute to the meal. When Jae was here for Thanksgiving, I didn’t expect her to go do my dishes or bring a pie or help cook or anything, she was a guest. But Lyndon lives here. Lyndon should do something.
Food’s all put away, dishes stacked for drying, pretty much everything’s done, and I’m angry. Angry and resentful. Must be nice to live somewhere and not have to lift a damn finger for anything. And that’s when he comes out to the kitchen.
Gabriel suggests that he start putting dishes away. “But I don’t know where anything goes.”
Of course you don’t! You don’t do anything around here!
That’s when I realize that I have to get out of the room lest I implode. I go into the bathroom adjoining the master bedroom – away from anyone else – and sit. I feel the angry tears filling my eyes. I’m angry, but I feel bad for being angry – like I’m just being a selfish bitch for feeling this way.
I hear Gabriel close the bedroom door and stand outside the bathroom. “You okay, sweetie?”
“No, not really,” I say, and explain my feelings to him – the Reader’s Digest version, not this big long whatever thing here. I end it with “I just need a few minutes to calm down.”
He squeezes me, says “Okay hon,” and leaves. A few minutes later, I’m calm enough to go back outside for pie.
Maybe I am being selfish. I know that this doesn’t paint a flattering picture of me.
Part of what makes me feel bad about this is the Raisin – little Roman, if he had survived. He would be four and a half now, and would seriously literally need everything done for him. Far more than Lyndon clearly expects me to do for him at twenty-one. And if I’m this pissy about essentially being expected to be a chef and maid -
Then I truly am an asshole.
I’ve been told that I would feel differently if it were my own kid, instead of my stepson. And perhaps that’s true.
I guess I wouldn’t know. I was about to say that I considered Lyndon my son, but I never really have. I like him – nay, love him – but as my son? What does that even mean? Wouldn’t that imply that I considered myself to be a mom, his mom? This is not a role I’ve ever filled. I’ve never thought of myself as a “stepmom”, I don’t even know how to be a stepmom, what does a stepmom even do? Ugh.
Gabriel’s going to talk to Lyndon about this, let him know how his (in)actions are affecting the people around him. Which again makes me feel shitty – because I hate that Gabriel even has to be in this position. I know that Gabriel’s his father, and that this is his responsibility, but I hate that – that – that things aren’t just wonderful and smooth because honestly Gabriel deals with enough shit at his job and I feel like I’m being a tardbot and just adding to his stress and – Ugh!