When I was growing up, my mom and my aunt “shared custody” of my brother and me. My mom, a single mother, worked a lot and realized babysitters cost a lot. One job was specifically for paying the babysitter. So it became a regular thing that we would go to my aunt’s house. At one point, they were trading off 3-4 nights a week. Around this point, my aunt met her husband (not married until 2008) who had a daughter a year younger than me, Christina. I don’t talk about Christina a lot on here because I don’t see her very often. She is my oldest and best friend and also my cousin by marriage. We spent a lot of time at my aunt’s house and Christina came over a lot to to be with her father, my uncle. We also spent a lot of time with my aunt alone. She was, for all intents and purposes, my second mother. I remember laying on the couch with her cuddling while I watched Are You Afraid of the Dark and she’d buy us the cool snacks. She was surprisingly a bit more strict than my mom but that didn’t matter early on. She was there for everything just like my mom was. My brother and I didn’t know our fathers so with my mom and aunt I never felt like I was missing anything. I did have two parents.
I remember that things got more difficult as we got older. Her husband seemed to pick on my brother a lot. Christina, I love her to the moon and back, but she was a little bitch. She’ll admit that. She did things that her father would find a way to blame on Patrick or me. When I was 12, my aunt showed up at the door to tell my mom that money was missing from her dresser, where she always laid out her tips after work. She said Christina said I took it or her husband accused me, not sure. I wasn’t a theif. My mom would come home from work, drop her pants in the bathroom and any change that fell out and landed on the floor stayed there. We knew better than to steal. My mom confronted me while my aunt stood there. I told her I didn’t and my mom didn’t believe me. That hurt more than the smack I received when I tried to walk away because there was only so many times I could say “I didn’t do it”. After I went to my room, my mom says that my aunt started to think *maybe* it wasn’t me. Maybe Christina did it. It was Christina. My aunt caught her with her ring a few days later, also on her dresser.
Her husband had convinced her that I stole from her and even though she knew I wasn’t like that, she took his side and that hurt so much. My mom and she raised me better than that. Our time at my aunts came to a halt fairly quickly. I was hurt that she/he didn’t trust me and he wasn’t very nice to my brother. We just stopped going. She was still very involved in our lives, though. I loved her and I still wanted to be around her. We spent holidays together. She came to graduations. Over time, we spent less and less time together and sided with her husband more and more.
What’s weird is my mom and her were fairly close through all of this. They fought but they were a team. Somewhere in all of this, there was a massive fight over her husband and my mom and she stopped speaking. She got married in 2008 and we were in her wedding, Patrick and I and Zack and Breya. My mom tried to be there for her but she was met with attitude at every turn. They didn’t speak except when forced to, when she came for birthdays and such.
I’m going to back up a bit to explain something. I have an uncle. He lived with my aunt while we were going over there. He had the spare bedroom and we barely saw him. Remember we were there half time. We saw him come out for food but other than that, he spent all of his time in his room. He moved out when I was still fairly young. Patrick and I only saw him on holidays and then my aunt’s wedding and then when my grandfather died in 2011. He was pretty much nonexistent in our lives. No idea why.
When my grandfather died, he blamed my grandmother. For some reason, my uncle was my aunt’s favorite sibling and either she sided with him because of that or because she blamed my grandfather too. I still don’t know. The funeral was the last time I saw or even spoke to my uncle. I’m not kidding. Not a single word. My brother saw him at a store once and he rushed out of the door. He also saw him out at a bar and he said two words to him and walked away. He is not family. I’m indifferent to him.
My aunt on the other hand, we have history. It still hurts now and then when I think about how she picked her husband over us when she thought of us as her own children. We’ve spoken, she tries to call every year on or around our birthdays and we go out to lunch but it feels forced and it’s not the same. I feel like it’s weird for her that I’m an adult, maybe because she missed it all. We make small talk but I’m not going to talk to her about the state of my relationship with Andrew. The last time I really saw her as family was the Christmas after Andrew and I got together (when I was 16). She did the whole “if you hurt her, I’ll kill you” thing. And it seemed mean since she wasn’t all that involed in my life at that point nor did she even know Andrew. It wasn’t that it didn’t seem sincere, just that it sounded more like a threat. She didn’t know Andrew, my mom did and she loved him and trusted him.
This was long but my point is this, Patrick and I had not only our fathers abandon us, but our aunt and uncle as well. It sucks, my family was so close when I was little and things just got worse and worse.
That brings me to today. Zack and Breya are 14 and almost 11. They don’t know my aunt and uncle. My mom said she had a talk with Breya and mentioned Christina being aunt’s husband’s daughter. She thought Christina was “always in our lives”. My mom explained that she was always in (Breya’s) life but we met because she is his daughter. She doesn’t know them. Christina is my best friend and even though we don’t spend nearly as much time with her as I’d like, she’s been around the kids. They know her.
Patrick lives with me. He moved in with Andrew and I when we moved out. My brother rents a room from us and works a lot but not nearly as much as he acts like. Zack and Breya come to my house nearly every other weekend. Not always. I’m not going to lie but they come pretty often. I see them at the very least, once a month, and Zack and talk fairly frequently. I wish Breya would master texting or realize she can text me. I love them to pieces. On the weekends that they are here, Patrick works. You might think that’s not his fault and I would normally agree with you however their father, Bobby, gets them on the off weekends. I’m flexible, he is not. So we’ve switch weekends on occasions. And my brother always moves his weekends to work to coincide with their weekends with me. They see him for 30 seconds as he grabs his keys and walks out of the door. Zack looked up to Patrick before we moved. Now, he looks up to Andrew, his brother in law, because that’s who he knows. My brother has promised to take him fishing, to take him to the firehouse, to hang out with him and he has let him down every time. They same things my uncle did to Patrick. The difference between Zack and Patrick is that Patrick was a much more emotional child than Zack is. Every time Patrick got stood up, he bawled. He was heart broken but he. always. fell. for. it. That is not a slight at him. He was surrounded by women and was much more emotional and open about his feelings. Zack, on the other hand, is much more macho than Patrick was. It hurt him at first but he’s learned to not fall for it and if it hurts him, he tries to not let it show. I know he’s heartbroken. Patrick and I were when our own family abandoned us. This is Zack’s big brother. His role model. Zack is now closer to Andrew than he is to Patrick. As wonderful as that is, it sucks. His brother should be there for him. What kind of person has that done to him and turns around and does it to someone else. Someone you supposedly love. He’s so caught up in his own life that he forgets or doesn’t care that he is breaking his brother’s heart.
I want to say that growing up, neither of us had a father. I’ve gotten shit for this before but I’m going to say it again. I was raised without a father, therefore I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything by not having one. I’m a girl, I needed my mother. I had my mother and my aunt, in the beginning. Yeah, I was a bit jealous of my friends who had their dad in their lives but I don’t feel like I missed anything serious. My mom was everything I needed and I think I’m a fairly normal person. My brother, on the other hand, struggled a lot by not having his father around and he latched on to every male figure in his life. My grandfather who couldn’t leave his bed, my uncle who didn’t care for his feelings at all, my aunt’s husband who wasn’t the nicest to him. It felt like everyone except my step dad, Bobby, who does not get as much credit in our upbringing as he deserves. My mom did a shit ton for us, but Bobby came into our lives when I was 8 and has been there for us and loved us like his own. He left the parenting (of us) to my mother but he was there if we needed him.
Zack and Breya and I are very close. I’ve spent a lot of time with them. I wasn’t the best sibling always because for the early years, I felt forced to raise kids that weren’t mine. But I’ve done homework with them, I’ve gotten them up in the mornings, I took care of boo boos, I’ve yelled and disciplined them. I wasn’t a #1 parent by any means but I love them as if they were my own. Now that they are older and I’m not so much of a hard ass on them because I don’t have to be, they are cool kids. They are little adults, smartasses but so am I. I am their big sister and not for ONE FUCKING SECOND can I imagine just cutting them out of my life. It’s only going to get better from here. Breya is excited to be an aunt to my children and Zack probably doesn’t care either way but would make an awesome uncle. I expect that they’ll only come around more often.
My mom had tried to talk to Patrick about breaking Zack’s heart. Hell, she’s tried to talk to him about the way he cuts us all out of his life but to no avail. He is so wrapped up in his own shit that he doesn’t care. I don’t get it but I feel for Zack and Breya. My fear is that one day, Andrew and I are going to buy a house. We want to do this on our own and therefore, Patrick won’t be coming. If he doesn’t live with us, we may never see him. He’s going to go the way of my aunt and uncle and I don’t know why. It’s like we had very separate upbringings. Like he didn’t experience the same things. It hurts me to think about Zack and Breya not knowing him like they know me. It feels surreal because he is their brother, not a cousin twice removed or something. I couldn’t imagine cutting them out of my life but he seems to have no problem doing it. I wish he’d figure it out and realize this is going to damage any sort of relationship he may want when they are older. He’s my brother and as much of an asshole as he is, HE’S MY BROTHER. He will still be invited to holidays and such and I’ll still call him but it’s up to him whether he shows up or returns our calls.