Family Drama

This will be long, it has a lot of back story and it’s probably pretty boring… but I don’t have anyone to talk to about it and I’m freaking out. So here it is… I’ve always said it… my family could be on Jerry Springer. For reals here. And this latest isn’t nearly that bad… yet… but I’m bracing for it.

So my husband and I rent this house… from my mom who lives in the basement. There’s a lot of drama in the family about us “forcing” her to live in the basement… even though we were renting here before she decided to move in, and the basement is a full apartment with its own kitchen and laundry and entry… and she decided to move in down there AFTER we offered to switch and have her live upstairs… and on and on. And when they (my siblings) come here to visit they refuse to respect the fact that it’s our home. All my siblings grew up here and they still feel like it’s “their” home. They don’t feel like guests and they don’t accept rules or boundaries… even when it’s down to breaking our belongings or keeping gates closed to keep dogs in the yard. They just don’t feel like we have the “right” to tell them anything because it’s my parents house, not ours. And yet we stay here anyway. It’s a great place to be, a great neighborhood and a large yard. And since my dad died my mom has fallen into some financial difficulty and she can’t carry the mortgage, so she needs our rent to survive… and she wouldn’t feel comfortable living here with strangers living upstairs from her. Also my husband does all the maintenance and house repairs, and we try to pay for everything that we can that way, to try and help take care of my mom. But nobody in my family sees it that way. They resent that we’re here and they make it a point to let us know that we have no rights. As far as they’re concerned, we are guests (read parasites) in my mom’s house… just like they are when they come to visit.

So one of my sisters is single and in her 40s. Just a couple years ago she adopted a little girl from Ethiopia. I had offered to help her with daycare, since I’m a stay at home mom. I didn’t charge her a dime. I even fed her child out of our food, and many times I fed my sister dinner when she’d come to pick her up. But I have an autoimmune disease and my health is not so good… and she got her daughter just as I was having my second baby via C-section. I had 3 weeks post surgical, with a new baby and poor health, before I had her child in my home full time. To say it was difficult for me is a severe understatement.

I love her daughter. Love her. She is family. But when she arrived, she had a few diseases and parasites, as well as some survival/coping behaviors from living her life in an orphanage in a 3rd world country. Bringing her into my home was a sacrifice, and it was difficult. Very difficult. But I did it. It got more difficult by the day. I kept praying and reading and praying and looking for answers… but it just kept getting worse. I’m sure because our parenting styles are so different, so the poor little girl didn’t get any consistency. Things that were fine at home were absolutely against the rules here. At home she was an only child who got all the attention, and here she was a middle child who had to share and obey house rules. It was tough on all of us. But with my failing health (it was at an all time low) and a newborn… I was just not making it.

Just over 6 months in, I finally had to face up to the fact that I was nearing a nervous breakdown. I’m totally not kidding here. I was at my end. I had done ALL that I could do. I still feel guilty and I still wish I could have done more… but I just really couldn’t.

So I sat my sister down one day and told her that it was very difficult for me and that I didn’t want to be the permanent solution. I told her that I’d be willing to continue for as long as she needed me to, and that I love her and her daughter and would continue to do as much as I could… but that she needed to start looking for another option. I told her if she could find someone else within a year that would be wonderful.

She took it stoically, and said she’d look. Then she pulled her daughter out of my home immediately and cut off all contact. She wouldn’t return my calls or answer my emails. Just complete silent treatment. It is almost 2 years later, and we are only just barely starting to talk again… in the last 2 months she has started to actually answer when I call her, though she still won’t call me or make any effort. I know that she’s a single mom and was really needing my help, but I honestly couldn’t do it. I did all I could do, and I’m ashamed and sad that I couldn’t do more. I hate that I was too weak to be able to do more… BUT I still feel proud that I at least gave her just over 6 months of FREE full time child care. I still think that’s something… I still think that’s a big thing. But there is NO gratitude for it… only condemnation that I couldn’t do more… from my entire family.

So this sister is about to lose her home. She was deeply in debt before the adoption and went into more debt to fund the adoption and now she just can’t pay her mortgage. And of course, it’s my fault, because if I wouldn’t have made her pay for childcare, then she could afford her mortgage.

So we have an extra bedroom upstairs, that I’m hoping one day to fill with a baby. My husband and I have been considering and praying about possibly offering it to her. I have some concerns… mainly about having this blow up in my face like the last thing. I don’t want to be the bad guy all the time. I can’t be cast as the villain and let her be the victim all the time, when all I’m trying to do is help her. So we were talking about if it was even a good idea and what types of boundaries we’d need to have in place if we were to offer it to her. In discussing this, we brought my mom into the conversation because she lives here too… in the basement. We all decided to think and pray and NOT tell anyone for a few weeks until we could come up with some real answers and a real plan.

So the very night that we finally told my mom about what we were thinking, and spent 2 hours telling her all of our concerns and apprehensions, AND finished by saying repeatedly that we wouldn’t say ANYTHING to anyone until it was completely decided… that very night, my mom calls my sister and tells her all about it… but as if SHE is offering it. *facepalm*

So see what that does? That makes it be HER house, not ours. That makes my sister a guest of my mom, not of us. That makes us have NO rights in our own home. That takes away our gesture of love and sacrifice and makes it into an obligation, or worse. It shows to my sister that my mom thinks we have no rights here either. My mom says she didn’t even think about any of that and she wants to call my sister and take it all back… but all that would do is cast us as the bad guys again… from the outside that would just look like we were controlling my mom and telling her what she could and couldn’t do in her own house.

But we are renters here! We pay the mortgage. Tell me of any other landlord that could just offer up an extra room in their property to their daughter, regardless of what their renters thought or felt. She thought she could do it because we were already talking about doing it, so she just thought she was “jumping the gun” because when she was talking to my sister, my sister was so worried and thought she might become homeless, so my mom just wanted to let her know that we wouldn’t let that happen. I understand. I do. But I am SO FRUSTRATED!!!

It sets it up to fail. It sets us up as the bad guys. It sets us up to have NO RIGHTS and no boundaries in our own home for an indefinite amount of time. And if we decide to leave… my mom will be homeless because she can’t carry the mortgage and neither can my sister who might now be moving in… so if we decide to move now, it’s with the knowledge that we’ll be making my mom and my sister be homeless… and that won’t be lost on anyone in my family either. It would in effect destroy any ties I have left to my family. Caput. Done. No more family. I’m just sick. I don’t even know what to do.

I guess I’m just hoping and praying that nothing ever happens. That my sister will find a way to keep her own house, and all of this will blow over without another peep. Please let that be what happens. I have a migraine and feel like I might throw up. I am so stressed over this. For reals.

Worst case scenario, I lose my entire family over this. And that is not unlikely. Best case scenario, we find a way to stabilize my mom financially, get the house fixed up and ready to sell so she can sell it and use the profit to buy a little “old lady” house that she wants, and we can move out on our own… and never have my family visit. LOL. Okay, maybe they can visit… if they stay in a hotel.


6 thoughts on “Family Drama

  1. I want to make a really long response to this, to show you I understand and totally sympathize. But I am in the middle of ten things and just stopped for a break to read through my WP reader. Not a long and boring story at all. The same thing would happen to me. If you want, send me an email at I will explain a similar situation. I really sympathize, and I think you already know this – you aren’t going to come out of this as the good guy. No matter what sacrifices you make, you will end up being the bad guy. Just like I ended up being. Despite the fact I made all the sacrifices, was a guest in my own home, and beared all finanacial responsibility… I hope to hear from you. This is a difficult topic to discuss with anyone… Unless the have been through it. I have.

  2. Wow. Just, wow. I’ve had my fair share of family drama… But that is a lot.

    I think the best thing you can do (for your health, for your moms future and for your sister to learn to stand on get own to feet and stop enabling her) is to sit down with your mom. Calmly explain that the current scenario has brought to light that the living situation is not working. Explain that you love her and want to get her set up in her own place. Come up with a game plan if what absolutely must be done in order to sell the house and help her buy a cute, manageable “old lady” house. If she wants to open her future home to your sister that is HER business. I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole. What you want to focus on now is what needs to be done in order for you to move forward with selling the home. The market is starting to turn around, it’s a great time to do it. In the meantime (as you work towards selling) discuss your concerns that you feel that no mater what you do now, you won’t look good. Explain that you need her to stick up for you to your family. Reiterate any current house rules and open the floor to discuss changes/new things in light of your sister moving in. It’s clear that your mom does not really see you as “renters” and herself as “landlord”. Ask her I’d she is able to change her mindset to see things that way, or if she can’t than for your sanity’s sake you may need to change your mindset as “we are living with my mom to help her get this house ready to sell and then we will move”. Does it suck and is it totally unfair? Yes. But maybe swallowing your pride will help you save your sanity? (I don’t mean that to sound harsh. I don’t think you’re being prideful, I just can’t think of any other way to word it.). Just try to keep the flow of the conversation in a rhelm of “we want what is best for everyone. Out of love for family we realize that family and business don’t mix, we always knew you wanted your own place, lets help you to get that” etc etc. best of luck, lots of love hugs and prayers!

  3. I’m so sorry! Ahhhhhhh! The frustration! We are living with the in laws right now and the biggest problem is the siblings. One has kids that come over and DESTROY our living space, because that’s where the toys are. Not just make a big mess with the toys- that I’d what kids do. They break things, pull things apart, go in our room, take things out. It is out of control, and they’re parents don’t think anything of it. They come over and eat our food, all.the.time even though they are on food stamps and WIC programs. Not just snacks, but full meals for their family of 7. Ummm, I have to pay for all my food, it’s not my fault it’s noon and your kids hungry because you were to lazy to get out of bed and feed them this morning. I don’t mean to discourage you, but if anyone has feelings of entitlement to live there, is very possible they will act this way. I can’t rant about this on my blog because family read it. It is very frustrating to have people come into your home and take, take, take because they think they deserve it. Then to not be able to offer it as your gesture and sacrifice. I hope things work out for you!

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