Last weekend, my husband's family had a get together. This is a regular occurrence at this point, because his father is 88 and in failing health. Every month, my sister-in-law makes the roundtrip flight from Florida and we have a family dinner night. I endure these nights with a smile firmly in place. I say that because I've been married to my husband for 21 years and we have been a couple for 26 years. His family is important to him. I, however, have put up with....lets say less than acceptable treatment from his mother regularly and his siblings on multiple occasions.
I won't go into the details. I'll just say that I tolerate my mother-in-law with gritted teeth because she is my husband's mother. She gets credit for that. But it doesn't excuse her. In order to get through these events, I need to either take anti-anxiety medication or drink. Because its that unpleasant for me.
As a preface to this story, you need to know a few things. I don't have a job - not because I don't want one. I'd love nothing better than to get out of this house and work. My work is here at home, caring for my almost 19 yr old son who has Aspergers Syndrome and suffers from depression and anxiety. He's struggling with everything and leaving him alone for even an hour makes me incredibly nervous. He doesn't handle being alone well. Also, I might come home to find he's disassembled his computer, or done something equally irrepairable. (This has happened!)
Kiddo is on a weird schedule, where he often stays up all night with insomnia. Because I don't like him being alone, I'll stay up until 1-2am, to keep him company. My husband usually gets up around 4am. And I drag myself out of bed at 7-8am, so I'm often exhausted.
At one point during the family get together, I asked my sister-in-law how she was getting to the airport since she was flying out on Monday. I knew my husband had meetings that day and would be unable to do it. My father-in-law is no longer well enough to drive and my mother-in-law doesn't drive. I knew (from years of experience) that the rest of the family would not offer to take her. She replied that her friend was taking her. That was the extent of the conversation. I didn't actually offer to take her. But I would have to take the burden off my husband. For some reason, they all seem to think he can just leave work and do whatever they demand. He does so, but at this point its at the risk of being fired. (Because he's had to take a lot of days off to deal with these family issues.)
At this weekend's dinner, I happened to overhear a conversation between my sisters-in-law. I was walking into the kitchen where they were talking in soft voices. I heard one say, "I just don't feel like doing it." The other replied, "So let Karen do it. She sits home all day doing nothing and she offered to take me to the airport. She can take some responsibility." Now, I never offered to take her to the airport, but I would have if she didn't have a ride.
At this point, I want to interject that my in-laws have 4 children. One works evenings and could easily step in and help out, but doesn't. Their daughter who lives in Florida. The oldest works out of his house on his own schedule - again, available but unwilling. His wife (who was the first voice I heard), who is a visiting nurse & she does go to the in-laws every week to make sure their multiple meds are organized. They have two adult children. One of those children works part time when work is available, so he is also available. Then there is my husband, who works 60-70 hrs. a week. And me, with the full time job of caring for my son.
On Monday afternoon, my husband called. My mother-in-law had called frantic because her ride to her doctor's appointment on Tuesday had cancelled. This was obviously the conversation I'd overheard looking back on it. My husband said there was no way he could take her because of what is going on at work. So, as nervous as it made me to leave my kid & as much as it pained me to be stuck with her, I agreed to take her to her appointment. On Tuesday, I got up at 6am, despite having been up until 1:30. I drove the 45 mins to my in-laws, picked up my mother-in-law and took her to her appointment. It ended up being a 5 hour ordeal. Because she's 87, and partially deaf, I kept track of what the doctor said because she can't. Thankfully, my son slept through the time I was gone.
I hoped that would be the end of it. I did my good deed. I'm not opposed to helping out, mind you. I was raised by my parents to believe that its important to help out. When I married my husband, I married his family. But, I don't like being taken advantage of and I know that's what his sisters-in-law did.
This morning, I read my emails. There's one there from my mother-in-law. In it is a list of next week's doctor appointments (plural) and when I need to pick them up to get them to these appointments on time. Apparently, someone has decided that I'm the go-to girl. Without consulting me. Because I don't have anything else to do. And the worst part? I'll end up doing it. Because I made a commitment to my husband to take the good and the bad. And I'll be panicking the entire time about the commitment I'm not keeping to my son, to take care of him.
I didn't tell my husband about the conversation I overheard. And I'm not going to. He has enough to deal with. But it makes me angry that their own children - who can take them to their appointments - are dumping the responsibilty on me. And I'm angrier at myself that I can't say no.