Letters From Mama: Christmas Debt


<– Letters From Mama: God Will Not Bless Your Marriage

February 2011 was the last time I had any electronic, face to face, or otherwise personal contact with Mama. She caused too much stress in my life, as well as my family’s. I wasn’t quite an atheist at that point, but had moved to a better reading of the Bible, should it have been true – the Bible god was a paradox, both evil and good, at the same time. It was this new idea that brought me to atheism.

Mama had better ideas. She was going to get me back under the label of “Christian.” But, in order to do so, she needed to get across to me how I was still her child-son and needed her counsel and wisdom in my life. It got old. Now, I just get letters from her and pass them along to my readers, for mirth and entertainment, as well as a proper warning about what bat-shit crazy looks like.

She reads my blog, so when you comment, you’re also talking to her.

The following package was delivered around Christmas, 2011. On the “envelope” which was nothing more than recycled packaging tape, was inscribed:


To Me:


The nature of the gifts to your children are such that if they receive them soon, they will love them, and the memory, all their lives. But, if too much time goes by before they receive them, the gifts will seem too childish and have lost their magical gleam. So, come soon…..soon…..

Love, Mama

Again, as you will see over and over again in these letters and others I transcribe in this series, she enjoys the power of control. Holding gifts hostage until she gets what SHE wants. But wait…it gets worse.

To my bride, Kristine:

Love you, daughter, Mama Mary.

She had been trying to get my wife to call her that for years. It never happened.  Maybe that’s why she sent my bride a one-liner and then never mentioned her again in any of the other kid’s notes.

To Renaya (the oldest, then 9, now 13),  (in which she folds a $1 bill):

Dear Renaya,

For you I have a cat (a kitten :)). Not a real one, but a statue that sits on your dresser and you can rub its smooth coolness just before you hop into your bed each night.

And Renaya, can you tell your little brother Jack that for him I have a white and cotton-candy-pink trike airplane with pedals, that he can ride down the sidewalk on? And for your baby sister Analisse, a red, white, and blue trike airplane, a smaller one that she can sit on and push herself along with her feet. But the two trike airplanes are buried under the wall crumbles at the back of the basement, so when yourr family comes we’ll need to dig them out and clean them up in the bathtub, or if it is Spring, outside with a hose.

Here is a dollar for you, Renaya, as earnest on the promise. But the promise will end sometime. You can ask your Daddy when that will be. I wrote it in his letter. 🙂

Love, Grandmama, XO!

WOW! She tells my 9 year old that she can have a statue to rub every night and then begs her to come over and dig out some old toys in a crumbling basement, clean them up and give them to her sister and brother. Worse yet, she gives the girl a dollar but puts a guilt trip on her, stating that the dollar is only a bribe if she gets her dear old daddy to bring her over.

To Laura, (8 years old then, 12 now) (in which she folds a $1 bill):

Dear Laura Rose,

For you I have a cat (a kitten :)). Not a real one, but a statue that sits on your dresser and you can rub its smooth coolness just before you hop into your bed each night. There is a black one, and a cream-and-brown one, and you and Renaya can decide which one each of you would like as your own.

When your family comes, we can wrap the kittens well, so they will not break on the way home.

Here is a dollar for you, Laura Rose, as earnest on the promise. But, the promise will end sometime. You can ask your Daddy when that will be. I wrote it in his letter. 🙂

Love, Grandmama XO!

P.S. Here is a kiss and a hug for Jack XO! and for Analisse XO! Will you give them to them for me? Thank you.

To Frederic, (6 years old then, 11 now) (in which she folds a $1 bill):

Dear Frederic,

For you I have a puppy, not a real one :), but a statue that sits on your dresser so you can rub the cool smoothness of its head before you jump into bed each night.

When your family comes to my house, we can wrap the puppy up real good so it will not break on the way home.

Here is a dollar for you, Frederic, as earnest on the promise. You can ask your Daddy what “earnest” means. 🙂

Love, Grandmama XO!

Fred and Laura spent the money.

To Felicity, (4 years old then, 8 now) (in which she folds a $1 bill and tapes a quarter):

Dear Felicity,

For you I have a horse (a pony :)). Not a real one, but a wooden one like your cousin’s that sits on your dresser, and before you hop into bed each night you can rock it while it sits on your dresser, and listen to it go “clickety clack, clickety clack”, as if it was trotting down the street!

[Perfectly fine note for a 4 year old. But it isn’t the gift she is focusing on, as you’ll see when I finish this note, rather, it is the power she wants when she sees us walk to her door. It’s sick to use kids as pawns.

Now, back to the letter to Felicity…]
When your family comes to my house we can put it in a box for you to carry safely home to put on your dresser.

Here is a dollar for you, Felicity, as earnest. You can ask your Daddy what “earnest” means. 🙂

And Felicity, can you give this quarter to Jack so he can put it in his piggy bank? Thank you.

Love, Grandmama XO!


  1. davex says

    Wow. She sounds like she’s want the earnest money back if she delivered on the horse.

    You are doing the right thing. Stay away.

  2. DonDueed says

    Based on the limited evidence in these two “Mama” posts, I’d conclude that your mother is a very twisted individual. It’s sad that your kids won’t have a relationship with a loving and caring grandparent. It’s equally sad that Mama probably thinks of herself as exactly that.

    They are probably old enough now to be thankful that you’ve kept Mama at a distance.

  3. brucegee1962 says

    When I read those letters, I see the exact opposite of “mirth and entertainment,” and I sure don’t see any sign of “what bat-shit crazy looks like.” I just see a heaping pile of sadness from a desperately, desperately lonely woman who sounds miserable for two perfectly sane reasons: because she’s estranged from her son, and because her grandchildrens’ childhood is slipping by her and she can’t figure out any way to see them other than the dubious method of trying to get them to nag their father by bribing them with junk. I don’t have any grandkids yet, but I’m already looking forward to spending time with them. You don’t say whether she has other grandkids, but if she doesn’t, I’d imagine hearing about them from your blog while simultaneously being held up for ridicule is as much torture as I can imagine.

    Anyway, since you said your Mom reads this, I’ll write directly to her. I’m not a family counselor or anything, but because I feel bad about turning my back from such a painful situation. I hope you’ll allow me to do so.

    Dear Felicity’s Grandma:

    You sound like a person who’s got a war going on inside you. On the one hand is what you might call your “good angel.” You sound like you desperately want to be a part of your grandchildren’s lives while they’re still young. You want to get to know what makes them so unique and wonderful as individuals, what they say with that crazy wisdom of childhood, how they react to surprises. Who wouldn’t want that?

    But on the other hand, there’s probably what I’d call a bad angel at work. You probably think that you don’t just WANT to see the kids – you NEED to see them, because that’s the only they’re going to get the religious message that you’re uniquely placed on earth to give them. You probably feel that this is vitally important – your grandchildrens’ immortal souls are on the line, and what you do may have repercussions on where they spend all eternity. It’s all so dreadfully important!

    What you don’t realize is that your first, normal desire to spend time with your grandkids is being poisoned by your second desire to be SuperEvangelistWoman. And as long as you want the second thing, you will probably NEVER get the first one.

    I can’t speak for Joe, and I have no idea how deep the rifts between you are – I’ve only been reading his blog for a few weeks now. If they’re too deep to ever be healed, that’s totally his call – they’re his kids, and his rules.

    But for your own peace of mind – whether any chance exists to heal the breach or not – I’d advise you to do two things.
    One: admit that you probably made some mistakes along the way that led to your son cutting ties with you. From the letter he shared earlier about his marriage, it sounds like he still holds a lot of bitterness about your reaction then. If you can’t apologize and truly mean it, (not a snarky “I’m sorry you feel that way”), then your ties with this family are probably doomed.

    And two: you’d need to promise that, if you ever did get a chance to see your grandkids, you would play with them and listen to them, but only under whatever conditions their dad laid down. If he said no witnessing, then you’d have to promise that and mean it. Because if he did ever give you another chance, and you blew it, the wall would go up ten times higher. You’d simply have to put the salvation of their souls in the hands of the God you claim to believe in – if HE wants to save them, He’ll have to send someone other than you to do it.

    Even if you made those two steps, it sounds as if Joe might still not want you in his kids’ lives. They’re his kids, and that would be his call, and you’d have to forgive him for that, too. But taking those steps might be the first steps towards becoming a better person, and at least you’d have the consolation of knowing you did the Right Thing (which isn’t necessarily the thing you’re told to do in church).

  4. lanir says

    You sound like you learned to say “no” to manipulative stuff like this a lot faster than I did. My parents and I had other issues so this sort of thing was really just a side-show but it did a real bang-up job of compounding the other problems. Kept them going for many years after they might have otherwise faded. One of the things I learned along the way is that even when you try to give people asking things like this what they want, they just keep asking for more. Eventually you just can’t offer anything more and it doesn’t matter if you say yes or no when they ask; the results are the same.

  5. J R says

    Hi Joe, I’m a new reader of your blog, and this post hit home for me, but maybe in a different way than it hit you.

    I’m totally estranged from my psychotic, narcissistic, child-abusing “mother.” I began to pull away when I was 17 and pregnant, and she forced me to give the baby up for adoption, against my wishes. I had to stay with her for a summer when I was 18, and then I cut her off. She’s completely unhinged, a manipulative control freak, and worse.

    Over the years she has tried everything to get back into my life. When I got engaged to a man, she somehow found a way to approach him to ask him to convince me to speak to her again. When I had two kids, she would drive past my house trying to catch a glimpse of them. When I got on Facebook, she sent my kids and my friends Friend Requests. That was 6 years ago; she’s STILL stalking my friends and sending them requests. She infiltrated a local LGBT group in hopes to run into me. She almost did! The group invited me to speak last year on the subject of bisexuality. My sister informed me that my estranged mother viewed my talk to the group as “our reunion and reconciliation.” Had I known she was in the group, I would not have accepted the speaking engagement. I canceled it.

    My estranged, crazy mother has gone to her mother, my Grammy, a strict, bitter Catholic woman who is the queen of manipulation, guilt trips, and control. I still talk to Grammy, but not often, as Grammy has no respect for my atheism/Humanism and no respect for my personal boundaries.

    Grammy can’t have a conversation with me without asking me to “forgive” my mother and come back to the family. It’s been almost 30 years, Grammy, and no, I’m not “coming back.” I still get reports from my younger siblings on how batshit insane every family gathering is, how miserable everyone is, how hypocritical they are with their Catholic veneer hiding generations of vicious child abuse and serious mental illness.

    They don’t just want me back in the family, they want me back in the Catholic church, No thanks! I tried a few times when my kids were little, to see if I could endure a family function without any pressure from them to talk to my mother. It never worked, in fact, horrible things happened. I no longer attend family events, including funerals. Grammy is 92, and when she passes, I won’t be going to her funeral, either.

    Much like your mom’s $1 “earnest on the promise,” my family lords money over me to try to control me. Just a month ago, Grammy called to say that the Pope wants us to have a weekend of forgiveness, and, if I would only “forgive” my mother, I would be “blessed” by her “generosity” that I’ve been missing out on for almost 30 years. Grammy has also hinted that I won’t get an inheritance from her because I’m not part of the family.

    Fine by me, keep your blood money, keep your manipulation, and keep your Catholicism far away from me. I’d rather be poor and happy than have these psychos as part of my life. My “mother” was never a mother to me, she was my first abuser, who set me up for a lifetime of abuse and suffering.

    Above my post, brucegee addressed your mom directly. Your mom is not going to listen to reason, because, like my family, your mom is unreasonable. She is pulling the same manipulative crap on you and your kids that my family tried to pull on me. Don’t let it bother you.

    I raised my kids to know that I was permanently estranged from my mom’s side of the family, with the exception of an occasional Grammy call or visit. I raised my kids to know that my mother was a violent child abuser. I raised them to know that she had untreated mental illness, and was beyond help or hope. As they got older, they experienced her craziness personally, as she sought to make contact with them. Like me, they want nothing to do with her.

    Joe, stay where you are. Be honest with your kids about your mom’s flaws and problems, and explain why you aren’t letting her sink her control claws into your arm. Explain your newfound freedom from her. Let the kids know the truth: Grandma can’t love and accept you as you are, she has no respect for your worldview or your feelings. and you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

    Best wishes to you and your family as you struggle to separate yourself from the toxic family members from your past.

  6. Arion says

    When I read those letters, my first thoughts were, or geez, my mother’s long lost sister. She’s done everything from introducing me to drugs, to breaking up my family, unfortunately, I wasn’t smart enough to get away from her but I’m working on that now, as I piece my life back together…

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