Do I Have To Love Her Close Up?

Another quiet night at our house last night. Sam was supposed to have a Pack Meeting for Scouts, but at 6:55 still had been unable to locate his shirt, kerchief, belt…despite my reminder after school to get them gathered up. I told him that we would just have to go to the next Pack Meeting instead, at which point he had a major meltdown and got sent to his room. He fell asleep by 7:15, poor kid, and did not even stir until 6:30 this morning. Apparently he needed to sleep a lot more than he needed to be at a scout function. I like Scouts and it has been good for him in many ways, but I don’t understand a few things. Like why they hold their pack meetings at 7:00 on a school night; are my kids the only kids who go to bed at a normal time? If it starts at 7:00, it really doesn’t “start” until at least 7:15, and we are usually finished by 8:30-not late by any means, but usually O. is in bed by 8:00 and Sam by 8:30. I don’t ever really say anything, though, because I don’t want them to volunteer me to run them-no thanks. Scouts is already a lot of work and I don’t want to create more!

One thing I am noticing about our house is that already the kids are starting to take me a little bit more seriously these days. Don’t get me wrong; there are obviously still issues and problems that need resolved and a lot of new things to learn and implement. Hannah and Eli both are actually challenging me a little bit more, which is probably to be expected. I think it might have to do with seeing just how serious I am about making changes, seeing just how far I am willing to bend. The answer is, not at all.

Sitting in that class last week, and gearing up to go again tomorrow, I see very clearly what I do NOT want for my kids, or for myself. I think I wrote about my struggles with feeling superior to these other parents, and trying to keep an open mind and not judge them. However, on Monday, the mom of the kid Hannah is not supposed to call or text (did I tell you I had to take her phone away?) stopped by the house with this boy, and it was all, “I hate that fucking school, I hate that Principal, he has does nothing but try to get my son in trouble…” I thought, hmm. With an attitude like that, it is no wonder to me that her child is in trouble; he has clearly learned early on that everyone else is responsible for his poor choices, and he is of course blameless. They live in one of those rent-by-the-week hotels, she does not work, and I don’t know or want to know much else about her. She said to me,”We are just out driving around killing time,” and in the same breath asked if I would give them rides to “that fucking class.” Because she was having a hard time affording the gas. God knows I understand that; I really and truly do. However, she chooses to not work, she has a terrible attitude and is simply showing up at the class in order to prevent her son from going to jail; she has no intention of taking seriously anything talked about. I told her no; I also made a point of telling her about how good our experience at the school has been, and how much I like Mr. A. (I may have exaggerated how “great” it has been, but I really do like Mr. A), and how I did not feel comfortable with her son coming over to or calling or texting my daughter. It appears that I am not going to win any friends here; she kind of sniffed as if to say,”Fuck you,” and drove off throwing gravel. Whatever.

However, it is hard for me to look at my own situation and not feel some empathy for her. I would be willing to say there are probably a LOT of similarities between she and I. She is “with” someone, as there was a man at the class with her last week, but she still seems like a single parent, and it seems pretty obvious to me that where she is, is the result of some poor choices she has made. What I don’t understand or have empathy for is the attitude she carries around with her, that the whole world owes her something and she just wants to sit back and wait or it to happen.

Here is something I have been thinking about a lot in the past few years, but even more so at this moment. On the outside, maybe, I could be this woman. I mean, I might not live in a motel, but I do live in a pretty junky little house (but we ARE on the “right” side of the tracks, if just barely). I am poor, have no education, made really crappy choices in men more than once, which is in part why I am where I am. However, I look at her and think, “White trash,” whereas while I might JOKE about being white trash, I know we are not. What makes we two women in such similar circumstances so different? What made it so that I was able to get this job (sell myself) with little or no skills, start out as a receptionist, and then work my way toward my agent’s license? What is stopping HER from doing the same thing? Or the fact that I can manage to scrape together the $5.00 a month to rent Sam’s violin from the school so he can be in orchestra and she can’t get together $1.00 to buy a bar of soap, yet was smoking and drinking soda? Not that I think she should have to go without those things; that isn’t the point I am getting at. I guess I am just curious as to what makes some of us have different and better priorities than others. It can’t just be circumstance; like I said, ours are, I am fairly sure, very similar, yet the two of us are night and day in how we approach things; what is it that makes us so different?

I can’t pinpoint any one thing, but I think that attitude has a lot to do with it. I have my moments-days and weeks sometimes-where I feel overwhelmed and hopeless; they don’t last, though, and somehow I get up and keep going in the meantime. Is THAT what the difference is? I don’t know, I really don’t. I just know that I don’t want to help her-which makes me feel selfish and hateful as well as ungrateful; after all, I have gotten a lot of help in the last few months. I have gotten cards and treats from friends, I have gotten some money and a gift card, I have gotten clothes for Owen. Isn’t it terrible that I don’t want to do anything for this woman? But then I stop and think about it and realize that it isn’t that I don’t want to help; I have at different times bought groceries for a friend, given money anonymously to one of my customers, sent cards to cheer up a friend, sent flowers to a women having a hard time. It is that I don’t want to help HER. and I really think that is more about her than me.

This is what I think: that we all need help at one time or another, be it financial or emotional or just a sweet, thoughtful card in the mail unexpectedly. However, if people give and give and give and the recipient continually refuses to do the work it takes to get things back on track, they kind of get tired of it. They get tired of the “poor me, my life is terrible and it is ALL someone else’s fault” attitude. This must be what God feels like sometimes, looking down at us. He gives us all this…stuff. Friends and (sometimes) family, myriad opportunities (like totally opening up the door for me to take this class with the kids), a thousand and one different opportunities to make positive changes in our lives, one tiny little step at a time. Yet we sit back and wait for something more, wait to wake up one day and have everything perfect. Though I am not comparing myself to God in ANY way, I imagine he must shake his head and say, “For shiz, people, get off your ass and DO something!” Like I am doing with this woman. People would help her if she wanted to help herself, you know?

I want, every day, to be worthy of everything that has been given to and provided for me. And for my kids. I want people who have helped me and continue to do so to look at me, my family, and think it was time, money, a card, a stamp, a hug, whatever that was well-spent. I look at my life post-divorce and can clearly see how it has gotten better. Slowly but surely, there has been forward movement; I want at some point to be able to sit in front of the Big Guy and have Him say, “I gave you all of these opportunities and you took every one of them. Even if I had to humble you more than once, you accepted the help of my people, you worked hard, and well done.”

Aarargh. The part of this that I hate is that I should probably be more open hearted and generous with this woman, too. Because He has also told me I have to love everyone. I hope that he doesn’t mean I have to give her a ride, too; I hope it means I can just love her from afar.


14 thoughts on “Do I Have To Love Her Close Up?

  1. I think you answered your own question — People help you because you also help yourself. And you help others. You don’t sit around expecting others to do things for you, you work hard to achieve them yourself and you appreicate what they do for you.This woman, on the other hand, sounds like someone who just wants to whine about the hand she’s been dealt and expects others to pick her up, help her out, take care of it for her. I totally understand your frustration with her…I am the same way with people.Perhaps seeing your example of how you get it done, how you achieve is what God wants you to do for her. Because I agree, loving up close is sometimes really hard.

  2. Well, you know I can’t speak on the God question, but I do know that you already do and will continue to pay it forward when you’re moved to do so.

  3. I think you are making exactly the right decision. I know just what you’re talking about, feeling how important it is to “pay it forward.” But, I think your impression of her is precisely the right one and if you start helping her, it will only drain what you have to give the people who ARE your responsibility. That was my reasoning with refusing to babysit Tim’s daughter any more. I wanted to help them, I felt terribly selfish for staying at home with my kids and forcing them to make other arrangements, but he was such a drain on our family that I couldn’t justify it any more. I found out recently that the new babysitter sent them packing as well, and that makes me feel even worse although it vindicates me in some small way. But I can’t back down; it would open the can of worms all over again.You are different from her because you put your kids and their future above yourself. If she was doing that, she would be more concerned about making sure her son is growing up rather than making sure everyone knows how special he is. Of course, it takes everyone a certain amount of time to find their way, and hopefully she will before it’s too late. But that’s not something you can help her find.And wait a second: She can’t afford the gas, but she’s driving around “killing time?” How much sense does that make? I think it proves your instincts are right on. She will be a ball and chain you can’t afford. Or at least, she’ll try to be.

  4. You make me think so much, Kori. I’ve been trying to catch up on all my blogs, and don’t have the time to comment on all the posts I missed with my lack of power, but I wanted to let you know how much I value your voice in the blogosphere. You never, ever fail to make me think. And for that, I thank you.For shiz.

  5. This was a great post, and it gives me a lot of perspective. I joke about being white trash, but I went to college. I was raised by “dirty” hippies have rented my entire life. Lots of my peers in College considered me white trash simply because I was from Colorado and was on financial aid.Perspective. Something that woman in your class needs.

  6. I take steps forward (usually with a few steps back). Although times are hard now, I still try. You are trying. What she did with her life and the choices that she made are not your problem.On the flip side, maybe she is being the best parent and person she knows how. Maybe she is giving all that she can give. Maybe that is the best she has to offer. I think our world has turned selfish and stupid. As a society, we have forgotten sympathy and empathy. We look at another person (homeless man, single parent, “white trash”) and pre-label and pre-judge. We have no idea what their circumstances are or where they came from. We have no history or any facts to make a claim in regards to the life of another person. As soon as we start comparing other people to ourselves, we are going to find a lot of people lacking. For me personally, I know what my past was. I know what my goals are for future. Some might judge me based on things I blog about. Some might say I do not try hard enough. Some might say I am trying as hard as I can. But any of those judgements are based on a small window of my entire life.I think the same is true of you. You have some IRL life people who know your past and can make judgements and opinions. Then you have the virtual people that read your blog and magically know everything about you. To quote my own blog: “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”You are one of the least judgmental people that I have “met”. The fact that you are questioning you own motives speaks volumes of the kind of person that you are. You are not obligated to help everyone. You are not obligated to her in any way. Your only obligation is to have empathy for her because you have no idea what her past held or why she is the way that she is. If you muck up your life with why people make the choices that they do, you will drive yourself crazy.I have no idea if all of that makes sense. Hopefully! Or I will look like a crazy person!

  7. Call me an asshole, but to me attitude is your own doing. I won’t do crap for anyone with a bad attitude. And I do not believe in loving everyone. I believe in loving everyone who deserves it, and yes, I am the judge of that. It’s my love to give, after all. Just being real with you Kori. I would not even give this woman the time. I can’t stand bitter people who don’t take responsibility. Can you tell? Like you said, you took the same situation and applied a healthy attitude toward it. You have nothing but my never-ending respect.

  8. I read your posts every day and hear the efforts and hard work that go into surviving every day. You’re doing everything you can to improve your life and the lives of your children. You can’t seem to catch a break and yet you keep moving forward without giving up. The woman you speak of, however, seems to have a self righteous chip on her shoulder and feels the world owes her something. Paying anything forward to her would NOT help her because she won’t help herself. You can’t help people who are not willing to try to help themselves.Attitude is everything.

  9. Hi Kori–I made a rule few years ago about Scouts–I said the boys could do it through 4th grade then that was it! It just started taking up too much time and, like you said, goint too late on schoolnights! I’m like you–my kids go to bed early. Not to mention the constant searching around for those neckerchiefs!!As to that lady–it does sound like she has a really bad attitude and sounds very negative. I’m all for helping people too–but if it didn’t feel right to go–you have to go w/ that instinct!!

  10. I tell my students that I will invest myself in them and their education but first, they have to invest in themselves. I think you took the right approach with this woman. It’s the same approach you took with your kids, right? You made them accept responsibility. She needs to accept responsibility. You are not acting superior to her or even judging her for her choices. You are simply demanding that she take responsibility for her choices and that she invest in herself. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  11. I know what you’re talking about. Our house, or a couple of houses, could fit inside one of the homes of some of my daughter’s friends. We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we have respect for ourselves. I have wondered why one home of someone who may be struggling financially is clean, yard taken care of, kids bathed and dressed in clean clothes, and someone else in the exact same situation lives in squalor, kids are filthy, yard full of junked cars or just trash.There is a big difference between a hand up and a hand out.

  12. You are very insightful Kori, and I would probably feel the same way. As a matter of fact, I think I did feel that way a little just by reading about this woman! I get it… I have been this way with people in the past, and been bothered by the way it made me feel…. some people just can’t be helped. Follow your gut on this one.

  13. Kori…you get help form people because you are so very deserving!You work hard and you have empathy for people…I just think you are a good judge of character as well.Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. Kori…you get help form people because you are so very deserving!You work hard and you have empathy for people…I just think you are a good judge of character as well.Thanks so much for sharing!

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