My mother offered me a bail-out

After a couple of stressed-out phone calls with my mom and sister yesterday, Mom offered to pay the $100/month rent increase for me for 2009. This broke my heart. I’m always the one bailing my family out since the age of 14 damnit, not the other way around, so you can imagine how this hit me.

You see, my dad had a number of psych issues (PTSD from Vietnam is the only one I’m willing to mention, even anonymously) that kept him from leading a normal working life…remember, he was a paperboy for the last 10 years of his life. As such, we all lived off the generosity of my assorted grandparents. I have absolutely no problem with people who need to move back in with their parents for a few weeks or months to get back on their feet after a job loss or a divorce – heck, that’s what family is for! – but in my family, that went on from 1978-1998, minus 5 years when they out-and-out paid our rent. Can you see why taking $100 towards my rent from my mom is a huge f’ing deal? Even though she technically owes me that money, I don’t actually want it back and told her as much at the time. It was for a Christmas flight to Costa Rica in 2006, which we took because we couldn’t bear being home without my dad (he died in early 2005).

The timing of her call was darkly poetic – I was wheeling a bag of milk, tangerines, socks and deodorant to that runaway teen shelter I’m oddly fond of. I was passing through the not-so-great area behind Port Authority bus terminal, bawling my eyes out after hanging up, and I must look really hot when I’m crying because it didn’t stop the guys outside the 99-cent pizza place from saying “damn, what I’d give for a piece of THAT, my dream girl!” Anyway, this time, my delivery got a very different reception. The place is usually staffed by a woman who struck me as unsociable and computer-addicted. Didn’t matter to me, but last week I finally dropped her an email to make sure that the stuff I was bringing was actually useful to the kids. Last night’s shelter supervisor was a chatty man who, uh, thanked me. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about being thanked, but when I handed him a bag and said “here’s some new socks and deo”, one of the teenage girls nearby shouted “socks! socks! I don’t have any, let me have a pair!” (to him, not me). As I left, Sock Girl and two of her friends said “Thank you, Miss. We really need this stuff”. And here I was, thinking I should cut back on the whole charity thing because I might end up regretting every penny I spend from here on in, but what a heart-changing moment that was. I felt useful. For $10 worth of fruit, dairy, CVS freebies, and thick ugly socks. It stopped the tears, and I woke up this morning stressed but not pessimistic.

Back to the bail-out … Mom clearly made the offer because she doesn’t want me moving away again. Last time I did, 4 months morphed into 8 years, so it’s kind of understandable.


8 Responses

  1. It sounds like having you around is more important to your mom than the money. Does this mean you’re sticking around or does the idea of jetting off for new adventure still hold sway?

  2. Wow. I have to agree with Miss M.

    But now I want to donate socks by the truckload..

  3. Miss M, I still have every intention of making a break for it. I’m a travel junkie! I just need to make up my mind at some point whether I’ll be away for 1 month, 6 months, or anywhere in between.

    Fabby Broke, same here! Since when do streetwise teens get excited about SOCKS?!?! And then to be all polite about it…really threw me for a loop.

  4. I am the same way. I live with my parents but I’d love to do some extended traveling, like in some different countries in Europe. But I’m finding it hard to actually make the decision to go for it.

  5. Oh man….you almost had me in tears too. I’ve had a similar relationship with my parents (although not quite so drastic) and I can just imagine how you would be feeling right now.

    Good for you for making that trip to the teen shelter. Truly inspirational. You’ve reminded me to get off my butt and do more for people less fortunate.

  6. awww, that is a lovely and crazy sad story all rolled in one. so i give you one :), and one :(….i really hope you’re happy no matter what ends up happening!

    and i *really* don’t get why guys are so nastily forward like that. i’m a guy, and i know for a fact that if i ever did that i’d never get the time of day….not that i’d even try. i figured out that either a) it’s worked once for them and thus they continue to fight the good fight, or b) they’re not straight.

    i wonder what would happen if a chick stopped and went,”Wow, really? you know what, let’s go in that corner over there and i’ll give it to you”. i guarantee they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. literally.

  7. Hi Kate! Have been reading your fantastic blog for a while now but don’t think I’ve commented yet.

    I think the stuff you take to the shelter is so thoughtful. I would love to be able to do something like that but the “homeless” people in Aberdeen (Scotland!) are not really homeless at all and just try to scam money for drugs. Our council encourages people not to give them money.

    As for what J says in the comment above, I don’t think any guys ever think those lines will get them anywhere, but from a girls point of view it always cheers me up if a guy (no matter how little chance he has) says something nice about me. Perhaps the guys could just see a lady upset and wanted to cheer her up as best they could?!

  8. Hi, Holly. I lived in Edinburgh for most of the 90s, and never gave to the beggars – your social welfare system is too good for this to be necessary. Over here, things are a bit more Darwinian.

    My little confrontation is a pretty common phenomenon, and is actually quite scary (and they know it)…there is nothing flattering about having an aggressive street cretin follow you, telling you what he wants to do to you – at night, alone, in a somewhat unsavory neighborhood. It’s definitely not about cheering someone up.

    J Money, I wonder how the guy would have reacted if I’d said “Are you gay? Because every straight man knows that ain’t how it works.” Heh, I’ll have to remember that for next time.

    LivingMyRichLife, I find it very satisfying to give things from a wishlist rather than money (hey, gives me a reason to shop for good deals, which is kinda fun!), and to put a face to the people on the receiving end. Not only do I know I’m not being scammed – I also learn.

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