Why do we give too much?

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I’ve recently taken on the responsibility of helping around the house and taking care of a four-year-old granddaughter for my friend “Carol.” She is a good friend, and while all families have craziness I have enjoyed getting to know hers.

The past few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster. I was prepared for my personal difficulty at the potential loss (Carol’s health is not good, and some days she looks so sick I wonder how long she will make it), and I was willing to deal with all of the assorted tasks in keeping a house well-run.

The monkey wrench has been the four-year-old granddaughter. She’s treating me as if I am a wicked stepmother, largely because I am the only one who says no to her. For as long as I’ve known her, she has been a cherished (if slightly indulged), mild-mannered child with an abundance of sweetness and affection. In the past couple of months (before I started going to their house every day), she’s refused to participate in her ordinary life. No more dance class, no more children’s choir, and even hooky days  from preschool/daycare with her mom.

Enter Ana. I am sure this shocks you, but I’m a firm believer in discipline. 😉 In all seriousness, we (especially children) need to feel secure. Being allowed to do whatever she wants and manipulate grown-ups does not make a child feel secure. It wouldn’t happen in an ordinary situation, and so when it does happen it is terrifying. Because she is four and human, she fights tooth and nail against the limits that would restore order to her world. (We’re adults. Don’t we fight limits, too?)

I’m also a firm believer in taking the long-term view, even if it’s difficult now. For weeks (we had a few good days in the beginning before I morphed into Cruella in her eyes), I have patiently and kindly tried to ease her into something like a routine. Her mom lets her watch television in bed until she falls asleep (yes, at age four), and when my first attempt to change that resulted in a meltdown, I backed off. Okay, it’s a terrible situation for sleeping and she’s having tantrums the next day because she’s overtired, but big changes can be scary. I let that go, but the problem was the need for control/manipulation rather than any one thing. She has been a terror (to the point that I actually call her the evil child from hell in private, and I never call children that), and because the family situation is so fraught her mother and grandmother will give in to anything that will stop her tantrums.

Guess who went from wicked stepmother to the White Witch of Narnia?

The abuse a four-year-old hurls is fairly innocuous. Even when she throws bottles of shampoo at my head and shouts that she doesn’t like me and doesn’t want me to go to her house anymore, she’s four. She’s pushing every button she can because I represent change, and change (even change that will be good for her in the long run) is terrifying. How many of us resist change? I sure do.

What’s not so innocuous is the reactions of the adults around her. When I am given the responsibility of feeding, bathing, and putting her to bed but she screams and runs to Mom and Grandma (who then let her do whatever she wants)…well, you get the picture. Multiply this by the number of days I’ve been there, and add an escalation each day. It’s gotten to the point where when I walk in the door, she will run to her mother’s room and beg her not to leave. If I ever say a word to her, she will scream and act as if I am killing her.

I’m pretty good at rolling with the punches where kids are concerned, but what hurts my feelings is when no adult ever says, “Hey, you can’t treat Ana that way.” Never.

In the midst of this, I have a stack of duties that far exceeds the time allotted. Part of this is my fault. I’m the one who offered to do the family grocery shopping, but how else will I make sure I have what I need for cooking? I’m the one who volunteered to do odd jobs around the house because otherwise they won’t get done. I’m the one who spent hours on the phone dealing with their awful home owners’ association to get the exact specifications for paint for their mailbox post, and then did the painting when the person they hired flaked out. (N.B. That was my first painting job in at least a decade, if not more.) I’m the one spending hours planning meals, finding recipes, and making lists.

I like the meal stuff. I like doing laundry. (Always have.) I enjoy cooking for people who like my food, and they are fans. It’s been fun to try new things like kale and quinoa that I wouldn’t normally use. (I prefer spinach and rice.)

And yet…then there are days when I walk into a kitchen that looks like a horror movie. Not one single effort at cleaning up since I was there last. Four-day-old milk caked into cereal bowls, dirty dishes scattered everywhere, the dishwasher still full of the clean dishes I put to wash before I left, and the general mess…unbelievable. Empty cereal boxes, cereal spilled everywhere, empty milk jugs and yogurt containers, food spilled all over the floor, and stinky old food crusted into the counter tops. I’m a fast and very hard worker, and it still took me a full hour to scrub all of the dishes well enough to put them into the dishwasher. I emptied the full dishwasher of clean dishes, loaded dirty ones, washed the dishes, unloaded the newly clean dishes, and then filled up the dishwasher a second time.

In the midst of this, my friend’s daughter wandered in and asked, “Is there a plan for dinner?” I couldn’t even look at her. I was cleaning up a mess I’d be ashamed to let anyone else touch if it were mine, and she expected me to cook dinner? Carol was having a tough day, so she had her bedroom doors shut. Four-year-old was screaming, of course, and being a hellion.

It’s one thing to cook and clean for a terminally ill friend in a wheelchair who is generous to a fault. It’s quite another to cook and clean for her adult live-in daughter who is perfectly capable of dumping out the milk from her cereal bowls before putting them in the sink. It’s another to cook and clean for a four-year-old granddaughter who treats me like evil incarnate.

And, because I am Ana and this is what Ana does, the worse things got the more I killed myself trying to make things right. Maybe it’s some faulty gene we have as women, that when we are treated badly we respond by striving to do better. Maybe we think it’s our fault, somehow. Maybe I was in shock at seeing just how sick my friend is, and I thought making things perfect for her household could (in some crazy magical thinking way) make her better.

When Carol was away on a trip for a few days with her husband, I changed her bedding. She has a hospital-style bed to accommodate her needs, and she has white sheets and pillow cases. As I stripped her sheets, something convulsed in my chest. I couldn’t allow myself to put the emotion to words, but I burst into tears while driving home.

When she dies, will I be the one to strip her bed for the last time? Will her elevated bedside table stand empty? Will her electric wheelchair remain as almost an animate being, her companion?

I knew this part would be hard. After just a few weeks part-time, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live this full-time for months, years, and decades. I can’t imagine the stress her husband must feel in trying to provide financially, emotionally, and physically for his family. When she has a good day and zips around the house in her wheelchair, I love to hear her irreverent chatter. She enjoys life. She makes the most of it. But when she has a bad day (and they seem to be more frequent, or maybe it’s just that she allows me to see them now that I am in her home every day), her pale, vacant expression sets off something inside me. She lives with constant pain (but almost never complains), and getting through each day exhausts her.

Up until now, she’s been very careful about what she allows me to see. She was worried she would be too much for me, but it’s not her. It’s seeing her in pain. It’s dealing with the evil child from hell, who in reality is a normal child who’s reacting normally to a crapload of upheaval in her life.

Part of me is screaming that I should pull back, or I will get lost. I tell myself everything would be fine without the granddaughter’s tantrums and hostility, but would it? This is still watching the pain of a friend who thinks of me as a daughter.

Why do we give too much? Because, at the end of the day, it’s still not enough.


49 thoughts on “Why do we give too much?

  1. Sarah B says:

    Hi Ana

    This sounds difficult and heart wrenching.
    Sending you good vibes and prayers. As you continue on this journey.
    Here’s hoping the little one is more controllable soon. Impending loss and grief cause so many deep reactions and emotions.

    Hang in there my friend.


  2. rozharrison says:

    Oh Ana, this is such a difficult and emotional situation. My heart goes out to you. You are such a very special person to do what you are doing.

    I know it is difficult for everyone, but it sounds as though they aren’t doing a lot to help themselves and aren’t showing you the appreciation you deserve, or backing you up when it comes to the 4 year old.

    Sending positive thoughts and prayers and huge (((hugs )))



    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I go back and forth between…they’re not doing much because that’s all they can do (there is mental illness involved, as well as other issues)…and I need to draw the line for what is healthy for me. This situation is not healthy. I’m starting to wonder where the line is between self-respect and service. Something has to change. If she were not a friend, I would have quit by the second week. It’s taking a lot of time from my writing, after all. But now, in addition to wanting to be there for my friend, there’s an element of pride. I admit it. I want to prove that I can do it because I *know* I can, given even a token show of support on their side. But families, no matter how crazy, tend to work very hard to preserve their structure. It may be that my going in is not what they can handle at this time. I feel, bluntly, that I’m being taken for granted and that is not a good situation for anyone. I do the work of three people and still get treated like dirt. But it’s also been a long, difficult day and perhaps things will be better next time. If not, I will have to think long and hard whether I can continue.

      Hugs and thank you for prayers and positive thoughts. Sure can use them!


  3. pao says:

    *hug* I’m glad you’re there to help your friend and her family but I’m sorry to see that your friend’s daughter is expecting you to do more. It’s giving too much to others, but to you because you care, it’ll never be enough. I hope the days get better for you and the family and that your friend will have more good days, zipping around the house.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I didn’t realize just how much it took out of me until last night when I got home. What always comes back to me is…wow, how much more intense this would be to live full-time. They are under so much pressure. And maybe things will be better today now that my friend is home. 🙂


  4. Mona Lisa says:

    Oh …. Ana. I feel your desperation and your pain.
    And your willingness to help and your pride to be able to do it and your love for your friend.
    Everything is there.
    But they extends too much for you. You’re just one Ana, a woman who has a body and only two hands.
    Gather the whole family and talk to them what things you should do, what will they do how you feel.
    To keep going on. To be able to be there for your friend.
    Your friend should be your first priority. Forget grandchild. Would she have breakfast from the floor let her do it. It’s not your problem. That’s their problem.
    Your friend may have a month left?
    Target your help to her and leave it that can be left, leave.
    Insist that the kitchen should be cleaned every day even if you are not there.
    You have to go through the things that are your responsibility and not.
    Otherwise, Ana, you do not have the energy.
    Otherwise, you can not help your friend.
    And then you’ll regret it the rest of your life ..

    Big hug, Ana… you can make it.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Well…hopefully it is not so limited as just a month. I hope.

      Again, some of this is my fault. When I started, grandchild was not a hellion so I had time to do other things. Now that she is, it takes all my time and energy. I also didn’t expect the kind of kitchen disasters I found this week–totally out of control.

      The main problem is that everything is so up in the air that we can’t get into a routine for anything, especially with grandchild. She’s allowed to stay home and watch cartoons two days in a row, then she doesn’t get to sleep until well past a reasonable bedtime, etc.

      But what would I be able to do in their place? We’re all doing the best we can. If it were my mom, I would be a mess. Though I have friends whose moms died early, and those friends were responsible caretakers. It’s tough.

      Hugs and thank you so much for the love. ❤ Haven't seen you in a long time, and it's lovely to see you today.


  5. Chickie says:

    Hugs Ana ❤ ❤ ❤

    My biggest thought after reading it all together in one place is wondering if you've really really talked to carol. What does she need/want? I'm a firm believer in doing right for a child and making a difference no matter how small. It's a losing battle here. So what does carol need? Maybe she really needs you to be the enabler right now, just going ahead and chipping Cheerios off plates and coddling the daughter and granddaughter. Is it painful for her to hear limits being set? Or is she secretly delighted someone's putting their foot down? I guess I'm wondering if your real role here is to make Carol at peace versus doing what actually needs to happen.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      You know, Chickie, we try to talk but last night I think my friend was exhausted, in pain, or both. I just got a rather blank silence and gave up. But she typically defers to her daughter regarding childcare, and the daughter is not always able to focus to have a conversation. In the past Carol has told me I am the only one who sets limits, she wants me to do that, and they would support that. So last night’s response was a shock. It may be that she wasn’t prepared for what she saw…but in all fairness it was pretty unfair to me to drop in without warning. Yes, it was their home, but I had counted on having those few hours to deal with the child and her mom was respectful about not coming in until her daughter was asleep.

      For the past few weeks I pretty much have been the enabler, but the issue is that granddaughter knows she can control everyone and then becomes totally unmanageable. I mean screaming crying throwing things tantrums etc. Mom and Grandma always give in at the first sign of temper. This is fine when they are around to deal with it, but Grandma gets tired and Mom has things two nights a week. So then granddaughter is given her way in everything until they can’t be available, and then I have her tantruming to the point of hurting herself (not yet, but unless these start abating soon she will). And from the reactions last night, there was some definite blaming/judging going on (along the lines of she’s never done this for us, with the unspoken…so it must just be you and how you are handling it). There was no appreciation or sympathy for the hellacious night I’d had.

      I did tell the mom that either I need to be given space to deal with the child, or they can’t expect me to bathe, feed, and put her to bed. I won’t do any more nightmare evenings, not when I deal with this at the end. And I had just been pleased because I’d finally gotten the courage to tell the mom…please don’t come in until your daughter is asleep because then she learns if she tantrums long and hard enough you will do whatever she wants. Then it gets harder for me the next time (as last night showed.)

      When she was just being bratty, I was willing to go along with it. This is beyond bratty, though. This is unlivable, seriously.


  6. abby says:

    HUGs….for being who are …..a compassionate, loving friend, who not only offers help, but follows through. What a mess, but you are the one bight light in that house…home…right now. The little ones probably senses big changes are about to occur and is scared…..the adults, well they should know better, but maybe they are handling things the best they can…..having said that, they need a big wake up call.
    You don’t give half way……and that is often very difficult….but it is what makes you….you.
    HUGS…..and keep us posted….
    hugs abby


    • Nancy Levine says:

      You are doing a wonderful thing for your friend, Ana. I agree with the other commentators that you need to take care of 1) you and 2) your friend. With all of the stuff happening to me sometimes I forget to take care of myself and that leads to even more problems.

      Sending good thoughts your way!


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      *I’m* scared, and I’m a lot older than four! Absolutely, people do the best they can…which is often what makes things worse. And yet that’s what we do for survival. That’s why change is so difficult. I’ve tried to focus on change I can actually make happen, like providing a healthy, appetizing family meal each night. There have been studies showing that the single most important factor in children’s success is sharing a family dinner regularly. Well…this only works if I don’t walk in on Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. It only works if I’m not saddled with tantruming child who can’t safely be taken to the grocery store (I am not her mother, so concerned bystanders might think she is being kidnapped) to get the ingredients I need.

      It may be, if things don’t change soon, that I need to step back and consider whether I can continue. I will hate to abandon my friend, but this is damaging me. But maybe, just maybe, things will get better.


  7. Sophie Kisker says:

    Ana, is there a good, valid reason for the daughter’s lack of ” presence” in the care of her own daughter and the house? You don’t have to share what it is, but it’s hard to understand why she gets to treat you the way she does.
    I do know that kids (like subs 😉 ) fight back against rules they don’t like but they need to feel the unbreakable resolve of the people who love them or their world feels even more out of control. They get used to new rules and new ways of doing things faster than you can believe as long as you are consistent and don’t give an inch, even if the others around you are sabotaging your efforts. And yes, we’re the wicked witch sometimes (often). That’s our job, and it sucks when we want to be their friend. She may very well look back later in life and think of you as the one person she could count on when her grandma was dying and everything was chaotic.

    I do run on. Sorry. I’ve had my share of chaotic and dysfunctional family over the years and had to draw some painful lines in the sand.

    Huge hugs.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Hugs back, Sophie. There is one good reason and a few not so good reasons. What I can share (if this whole post isn’t already sharing too much) is that I think my friend likes being able to take care of someone/spoil someone, and so that’s what she does with her daughter. I do think the daughter is doing the best she can, and in the past few days I’ve started speaking up when she steps on my toes. (No, do NOT feed your child chocolate five minutes before I finish making pancakes for dinner…because then she won’t eat and we’ll have to listen to her screaming at 9 PM that she’s hungry. No, please do NOT come home after bedtime and immediately go in to give your child whatever she wants after I’ve struggled for hours to get her to listen. That undermines everything I’ve just tried to do.) And when I did mention about the awful mess, she has made a genuine effort to be better. So I am hopeful…but it was actually my friend’s coming home last night that left such a sour taste in my mouth. Come home unexpectedly and there was such an air of judgment in what was there. Maybe I am being defensive as I was worried how it would look, but I also think it’s a reasonable response. (Especially in the comments of I don’t believe she did that or we’ve never seen her do that.)

      As to the lines in the sand, I hear you. It’s about self-preservation. But…I made the commitment, didn’t I? I knew this would be hard. And yet if it makes me feel as bad about myself as I felt last night…well. I don’t know. I’ve talked myself into giving tonight a try and then going from there.

      Hugs and thank you, all of you. ❤ You're helping to keep me sane.


  8. angieia says:

    Ana you are a very good person with a really big heart! I’m sure they all appreciate everything you do! The granddaughter wants attention and will get it anyway she can. The daughter sounds lost. Please take some time for yourself!!


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Just saw this now, Angie. Bad WordPress. 🙂 Thank you so much. Today I haven’t done anything at all (except the Love Spanks afterparty and prizes), just kind of sitting here and trying to come to terms with what I will do. Do I quit? I have talked myself blue in the face and gotten the run-around and blank stares. More talking will not help. Do I put up, shut up, and treat this as a hell job? We have all worked our share of hell jobs, right? Do I treat this as a hell job that I hate and makes me miserable, because I hope in the end it will be worth it? It’s been a long time since I helped to care for my father when he was sick, but I didn’t get this kind of treatment from my own family (and we’re usually worst to our families). It was not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I was not treated like an under-servant. Maybe it was my error in thinking that I would still be treated and viewed as a friend when I was washing their dirty underwear. Maybe that was a foolish thought for me. I believe in not putting airs, and I believe that doing things like washing laundry does not lower me. No job is beneath me (but might be too hard for me). But maybe they don’t think the same way, and maybe now I am the hired help.

      I said to a friend today when we talked…the hardest part is my own loss in this. I feel as if I have lost a friend and a surrogate niece. This is the child I was closest to locally, and I adored her. It was mutual. She would come running down the hallway, shrieking with delight when I showed up. I could get her to do anything and everything, all with just a gentle tone of voice and encouragement.

      Maybe when people are this deep into their own needs they are incapable of thinking of anyone else. What stunned me was how the husband treated me last night. He told me to go home, as if I were a stray dog or a beggar asking for handouts. I’m still struggling with the shame of that response. It was so uncalled for, especially when my friend has ignored her fair share of texts and emails. I want everything to go back to what it was before we started this, but even if I quit now it can’t go back. There will always be this ugliness between us.


      • angieia says:

        Sometimes you need to step back and take some time for yourself. I’ve found out that people change and circumstances change so I’ve had to decide what is more important my being friends with someone who is a relative but not very nice or my mental health. I picked my mental health and it is hard to see my cousin, but I don’t see her much now and I don’t miss the snide comments. I have made other friends and I am realizing what a good friend is. It was very hard to walk away from my cousin, but after a particularly rude comment I knew it was not a healthy friendship. I agree things will never be the same and there will always be an ugliness between us. I have been through a lot this past year and am grateful for the friends I have. Project Happiness on facebook always has good quotes and they usually come right when I need them.

        You are a wonderful person, please take some time for yourself!


  9. pieclown says:

    Ana, I am not sure what to say to you. What does one say to a angel. I work seniors living centers, nursing homes, assistant living, and retirement homes. I also clown at the hospital. I know what you are going through. I have had to watch as my residents slowly fade away or just one fall and they are gone in 3 months. Why do we give so much we are human. We see life as precocious. We get mad went we see others not carrying, but others may be to hurt to care. I wish you the strength of the saints, not just for the physical, but the mental battles you are and one day have to face. GB
    pie pie 4 now


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Aw, pieclown, you know exactly what I mean. It is so hard to see the suffering and illness. I agree some people are too hurt to care. If it hurts me this much as an outsider, what must it be like for them/ And thank you. ❤ You are so sweet and caring, and it's cheered me up. Thank you for the sweet balloon. photo.


  10. renee200 says:

    Ana, You have stepped into a minefield. There is not a harder place to be than between a child and it’s family. Although grand mom gave you discipline leeway with her granddaughter it does not sound like the mother is in the know. Children are and do seek boundaries. They want to know where the edges of those boundaries are and they really want to know that they are firm and won’t give way. That is why they test us. Unfortunately, if all parties involved are not on the same page, it is a waste of time. Just like parents must be united in their discipline, mom, grand mom and yourself must provide a united front for the child. If they don’t support your decisions then she will continue to manipulate the non-disciplinarians in her little world. As parents or grandparents we are not called to be our children’s friends. We must first be their teacher, guide, mentor, and protector. If the other adults in her life refuse to follow through you might be better off just being the child’s friend. At least you won’t have her being nasty to you. It is so sad when parents allow their children to be disrespectful and mean.

    We give because that’s who we are… especially as women. Your heart is so big and so in the right place but the other people in the situation aren’t in the same place. It sounds like the daughter is taking advantage of your big heart and kindness. One would think she would be able to clean up after family. You offered to help out not be the maid, nanny, errand girl, and cleaning lady.

    I am sorry your friend is hurting and for your pain in the situation. I hope you can find a way to help without tearing yourself down in the process. Some stress and extra work is expected but they are taking your generosity for granted.
    Blessings, R


  11. renee200 says:

    Okay so I did things a little backwards which is usual for me. I responded to your initial post without reading the others. Yes, you made the commitment but it should not tear you down. It should not be taken advantage of and you should never be left with a feeling of guilt and judgement. I think you need to clarify with both adults what is and is not expected. We all need to know where our boundaries are… not just children. You also need to somehow let them know what your boundaries are. I am not a confrontational person but I have learned over the years that sometimes I need to speak up for myself. Your commitment does not entitle others to hurt you. I hope tonight goes better. Blessings. R


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I’ve realized that part of the problem is four against one, and I’m getting four different stories. Four different people contradicting each other and putting me in the middle. Four conflicting sets of demands. I’m being pulled one way and the next and always wrong no matter what I do. It’s an unwinnable situation, and I’ve only just realized that I respond by desperately trying to get it right. Some reflexes are hardwired in. It doesn’t help that the daughter takes sleeping pills early or that grandmother is in constant pain and grandfather is both judgmental and stressed. I guess I expected to be more of a friend and less of an under-servant, but maybe that’s just my issues talking.

      At any rate, I’ll think about it this weekend and then decide whether I’m willing to continue.


  12. Lynn says:

    What a horrible situation to be in, Ana, for all of you. I admire what you’re doing but it doesn’t sound tenable unless things change and I can’t see you winning the discipline battle if everyone else is undermining you.
    I hope you have a better night tonight.
    Hugs, Lynn


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I’m starting to agree. After all, they raised daughter who is raising granddaughter. People think they want change, but they really don’t.

      It was a crappy night, but I had a lovely phone call. Hugs and thank you.


  13. awesomesub says:

    Hi Ana, I am sorry that Carol has those days when she looks so sick and I do hope so much that she’ll find more strength again soon. Nevertheless, I think that the situation you find yourself in is definitely one to get out of. I’d say there are several things going the wrong way and your report left me speechless.

    Sure, a four year old will try to resist change, but when you are in charge, the least that should happen is that the family back you up. Besides, I can only agree, not giving a child structure and rules to live by will cause lots of serious problems for everybody involved.

    I cannot understand that your generous offer of help is exploited in such a way (and I apologize if ‘exploited’ sounds too harsh), because this is what it looks like for me. Striving to do better when things become worse is what happens so easily, and from what you wrote I’d say you are rather unprotected in this situation.
    I feel for you in this moment. You want to help Carol who surely is happy to have you. Then again her family does not fulfill their share of duties and expects you to do that for them. It is not fair, not even friendly and if this happened to me I’d see it as inconsiderate. I also think it is plain horrible that you are taken for granted after you have offered something wonderful to them. For me this looks as if this could actually harm you. I’d expect them to appreciate much more that you spend your energy for them. Reading something which I consider highly unfair also makes me angry, and I think that the situation you find yourself in is unhealthy and should be changed. You absolutely have to protect yourself from demands that are beyond what you should actually handle. This is so upsetting and I’d love to be able to write more positively but right now I simply cannot and hope there is a way to end this. 😦 Be good to yourself!
    Sending positive thoughts and energy your way.

    hugs ❤



    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      You know, Nina, my heart is asking whether you’re not right. This has become a toxic situation and I have been blaming myself ever since yesterday. It feels like failure and abandonment to walk away, but after this I’m honestly not sure whether I can continue the friendship, let alone go back to this kind of daily treatment. I arrived tonight after doing the family grocery shopping and started to make lasagna for dinner. No one said hello. They were all in the bedroom. Then the husband came over (he lives separately, long story) and said we really didn’t need you, she texted you and I emailed you. Just go.

      Yep. Like that.

      So…I think I am done. I mean not from their side, he said we’ll see you Monday. But I had been at a social event this afternoon, enjoying myself and cutting it short because I had a commitment to help out tonight. Then I arrived tonight, after an exhausting hour doing their grocery shopping and fighting rush hour traffic, to no one saying hello or acknowledging me. It was so weird. Then the husband came over and said, literally: Just go. We really don’t need you. They had sent me a text message two and a half hours before my usual time telling me not to come. Two and a half hours. And they thought they could blame ME for not getting the message. So I left, and I cried on the way home. It’s not worth this.


      • Lynn says:

        Oh Ana, what a horrible situation to be in 😦
        But I think Nina is right: it’s time to walk away to protect yourself. You’ve gone above and beyond and been slapped in the face, figuratively speaking.
        They really are unbelievable: ‘Just go!’ without a word of thanks or appreciation in one breath and then, ‘See you Monday,’ in the next. Seriously!
        ‘What the …?’ My head is exploding.
        BTW My eldest would insist that I emphasise that that is figuratively exploding, not literally 😉 Just one of many grammar rants I suffer as she reads online fan fiction.
        Anyway I best go and finish cleaning and tidying before my Mum arrives for the weekend.
        I hope you have a lovely weekend and are able to forget about this horrid situation for a while.


      • awesomesub says:

        Hi Ana, don’t blame yourself for what you did. You were there and helped beyond measure and you did not let anybody down … well maybe yourself, you are hurt. Hey, perhaps a few swats with your favourite wooden spoon could fix that. 🙂 Sorry for being silly here. Maybe it is that I am still dumstruck and upset because of what you describe and need this outlet.

        I second Cat, getting out of a toxic situation, for self-protection, is not quitting at all, instead you only protect yourself from harm. You have a right to do so, … just saying.
        I am still shaking my head that you were left alone, dismissed and rejected so coldly … and then they expect to see you on Monday?!

        From what I know, you have what it takes to get out of this and I admire the determination that you let shine through in your blog entries at times.

        Ana, I am so sorry that you go through this at the moment and I feel so much for you, but please, don’t forget your own well-being. I know that after rest the softer thoughts come back, but please please do not forget yourself in this. Sending positive energy and thoughts your way.




  14. renee200 says:

    Awwwww Ana I’m so sorry they are treating you this way. It is just wrong. I think Nina is right it is time to say it’s over. You should not feel guilty. You did what you said you would. Take a deep breath and know you fulfilled your commitment. Now let it out and let all the stress, guilt, and worries go with it. You are a good friend. Blessings. R.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I will wait and see how I feel on Monday. *If* I go, I’ll see whether the same treatment continues. Yesterday was going to be my deciding night, but *maybe* I will try one more day. Maybe. If I do, I will need to go fully prepared to say at the end of the night…I can’t continue and you need to make alternate arrangements. *sigh* I am not sure whether we would continue the friendship, in that case. I sent my friend an email two days ago saying that I missed her and hoped we could do lunch next week (in addition to a few other questions). She replied to the business questions but never acknowledged the suggestion for lunch. If she had never responded to the entire email it would be one thing, but that came across as another slap across the face. (And we know how I feel about face-slapping!) They *are* paying for some of my time, but honestly I am working twice as much as they think they need (so they want only two hours a day, but it really works out to four)…and at this rate of pay it is not worth it. Not if it delays my writing.


  15. catrouble says:

    Oh sweet Ana…I don’t have time to read all the comments so please forgive me if I duplicate what someone else has said.

    You are an awesome, loving and giving woman who tries so hard to make the world right for everyone you love. Helping Carol is one thing but I really think someone needs to sit down and have a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with her daughter. There is absolutely no way I would treat my mother’s home like that or allow my children to behave like that. My dad decided to spend his last months at home and we did have hospice nurses that came in to help with his care but the laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. were still moms. So I drove an hour each way (with my kids during the summer) to take all that off her shoulders and I can guarantee that my children never behaved like that even though they both knew they were losing their beloved Papa. I am not telling this to pat myself on the back but to say that her daughter needs to get off her duff and take responsibility for herself and her child.

    I really think the 4 year old would be better off out of the house during the day in day care where she would have structure and limits. It seems to me that everyone just takes the path of least resistance with her…give her whatever will keep her quiet rather than make the effort to do what’s in her best interest. If they are not willing to back you in enforcing discipline and limits, there is nothing you can do but retreat.

    You can only give so much to someone and when they start demanding more to the point where you are hurting yourself, it’s time to say ENOUGH! I think it has now come to that point my dear. This does not mean you are a quitter. It just strikes me that the more you give, the more they demand and with absolutely no appreciation.

    I apologize for the rambling response…hope it makes sense. Sending lots of prayers, healing energy and positive thoughts for you. Please protect yourself my friend and let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

    Humongous Hugs and Blessings…


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Cat, that is exactly what they do with the granddaughter. She is allowed to stay home from preschool/daycare at least one day a week, and no one says no to her. Her mom will try (because she’s busy texting, calling boyfriend, and/or watching TV), but once the whining gets to tantrum level she will do whatever the little girl wants. Grandma does anything the girl wants, period. Grandpa does not do anything she wants, but he is around so rarely that she does whatever he says.

      It’s good to hear this perspective. I mean, I do know two friends who dealt with mom dying at a VERY young age (much younger than this mother). We’re talking 15. Another was about 21, just a few years younger. My father was diagnosed with cancer when I was quite young, and we did not expect him to make it. All of these friends and I washed laundry, cooked meals, and helped run the house because that’s what you do when your family needs you.

      There is mental illness here, but mental illness doesn’t explain leaving food caked into cereal bowls for four days and then asking me why there isn’t dinner two hours later (as she watches me scrub her food out of her dishes), and it doesn’t explain watching TV in her bedroom while calling boyfriend and letting child destroy everything.

      What you’re saying resonates with me. I mean, what the little girl does is NOT hurtful or offensive. She’s tiny. She is the innocent one here, and as you say it’s been a huge disservice to pull her from choir rehearsal, etc. and then even to keep her home from school 1-2 days per week to watch cartoons, go out to lunch, go to Chuck E. Cheese, etc.

      My weakness is always feeling it is my failure. I was going to give it one more go last night thinking it would be better with the grandparents home.

      Point of reference: I have tried to text THEM and not gotten a response. I have always then made arrangements assuming they did not get my message. I most certainly did not blame them for not checking their messages. I’ve been saddled with tantruming four-year-old TO GO TO THE GROCERY STORE and then been met with disapproval when guess what, the grocery shopping took longer than usual. Frankly, they’re lucky I took her at all! Oh, and this is during rush hour because they are inflexible about me going earlier when the commute will take half the time. They do not pay my gas for driving to and from the stores, either.

      I think I am possibly going to go on Monday, if on Monday afternoon I still feel like going. I won’t go Tuesday or Wednesday because of Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday. If Monday is more of the same, I will be done. They’re sending extremely clear messages that what I do is not wanted or appreciated, so on Monday there will be no errand running, no cooking, no childcare, nothing. I will clean up their mess and do laundry, that is all. I’ll warm up a can of soup and a can of spaghettios for dinner. If I get treated this way again, I will send them an email afterward saying it’s not working out.


      • Nancy Levine says:

        Ana, doesn’t the school call and wonder why the granddaughter is out so much? Don’t know what state you live in, but here in Ohio, they are really cracking down on school attendance. If students are out too much, they could not graduate.

        I don’t know if I would go Monday or not if I were in your situation. It depends on who the friend is I was helping–if it was my best friend or my second best friend, I’d be there for them no matter what.

        Try to relax this weekend and see what you think on Monday. BTW, I got my copy of “Love Spanks” and stayed up late reading it. Very good writing in there!


        • Anastasia Vitsky says:

          Oh, she is only four. Preschool is private and optional (in all states, I think). I’m going to give myself until Monday afternoon to decide. After all, they feel it’s reasonable to cancel with 2.5 hours notice, so I don’t need to feel obligated to decide any time soon. A lot can change in two days. 🙂 On Monday afternoon, if I feel able to go and accept whatever gets dished out, I’ll go. If not, well, I have three book deadlines and two book releases in the next six weeks. I’m not exactly hurting for things to occupy my time. 😀

          Glad you liked Love Spanks! There was an error with a short story. If your copy is not auto-updated, please let me know and I will send you a replacement copy. “Snowbound” by Tara Quan accidentally was put in instead of “Just Desserts.”


          • Nancy Levine says:

            Yep, my “Love Spanks” copy had “Snowbound” in it. Thanks for letting me know about the error. For some reason, I thought the granddaughter was already in regular school. Or I’ve been hanging out with my friend Greg a/k/a Perfect Attendance too long. I’d definitely not go Monday. Just tell them “I’ve got things to do.” Because you do!


            • Anastasia Vitsky says:

              I really do! But at any rate, they do owe me for the entire grocery bill from yesterday. (Fair disclaimer: they are prompt about paying usually.) So I would need to go to get that money, and they WILL pay me for my time yesterday. Whether they like it or not. I have given them dozens of hours of my time without charging them, so they will pay for this time. I also do the work of three people.

              But Tuesday I have been invited to stay with a quilting granny friend for a Mardi Gras party. She lives close enough for a quick trip but long enough to justify staying overnight, so I’m looking forward to it. Quilting granny sleepover! Hehe.


                • Anastasia Vitsky says:

                  Yes, and I’ve been requested to bring “your famous cookies.” I am excited to make something special! 😀 I’m thinking maybe lemon cooler cookies, but that’s a bit spring-y for February. Hearts are a bit cliche…

                  Your file from Amazon *should* be updated to the correct one as they finally approved the changes. My copy is not updated yet, though, so it might take a while.



                  • Nancy Levine says:

                    I understand about files–that and my lemon computer are why it took so long to finally get “Silver Dreidels” out there. Baking will definitely take your mind off things–yum!


  16. minellesbreath says:

    What an extremely difficult and heart wrenching situation! I know you are doing the best to care for everyone. However you cannot fix it all, or do it all! We can all surmise what would work the best for them and you but often in these situations logic and normal expectations don’t apply. It seems they do not have any coping skills when confronted with the death of the family leader. She is obviously the person who took care of everyone’s needs. They are floundering. That doesn’t mean you need to take it! The child is the least able to change right now. Poor thing has no one besides you who focussed on her needs. As hard as it is maybe you could say I can come and do this or that, but not all. Then again you could just come cook and clean and not take care of the daughter! Lastly, you could only visit your friend and politely distance yourself from all the rest. Only you know what will work. I would work hard to end anything in the least traumatic manner possible so that later your grieving is easOrr to move through.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Happy birthday, dear Minelle. 🙂 The granddaughter DOES have their attention, but it’s things like taking her to a restaurant/play place and letting her do whatever she wants, so of course she behaves then. (More of it’s only Ana’s fault if she doesn’t behave.) I will not be cooking for them if I go on Monday. Not after yesterday. I will warm up a can of soup and that is all. And unless there is a very good reason why my friend ignored my request to go to lunch next week, we may be done with the friendship.


  17. Laurel Lasky says:

    I don,t have any answers. You can only do what you can without making yourself sick. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to walk away. You have done so much already and you need to do what’s best for yourself. It’s not going to help if you get sick or drop dead. It’s time to put yourself first. You are a wonderful caring person. I’m sending prayers and lots of energy.
    Big hugs


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