Lately there's been some drama in Husbandido's family, caused by our step-niece, K. (For a complete guide to Who's Who, you can now go to the handy dandy Cast of Characters tab at the top.)
To be blunt, K is a flake; she's not very good at managing her life, but this latest crisis is a doozy. Here's the backstory: apparently while K and her scummy ex were still together, he got to be buddy buddy with the neighbors. He would go over there drinking at night and would try to get K to go with him. In this case, K showed some sense and wouldn't go because their young children were home, sleeping, and she didn't want to leave them alone. So the neighbors got treated to all the ex's complaints about K, and when they split, he apparently asked the neighbors to "keep an eye on her," but in a "report back to me way" as opposed to a "make sure they're okay" way. So the neighbors ended up nosing around K's business more than is healthy or she was comfortable with. So she decides to move. (In and of itself, that wasn't a bad decision.) Here's where it gets bad, though. Instead of trying to sell the house, even if a short sale was required, she decided to rent it out. Being a landlord is a lot of work and headaches, even at the best of times (my brother owned an apartment building for a few years); trying to juggle it in with working full-time and having split custody of a five year old and a three year old is not the most reasonable option. Then she puts all of her belongings in a pod before she knows where she is moving to. Even worse, the things she doesn't put in the pod are books, not an abundant supple of clothes or basic cookware. Then she moves to a place that the pod company doesn't normally deliver (because she didn't check that before committing to the new apartment) and without having the money to pay to get her pod delivered and her things back. Oh, and then she went and changed jobs from one that paid decently and had regular hours, at a bank, to being a home health care worker. Her new job requires her to work hours that she did not have child care set up for; at one point she was having her ex's mother baby-sit for her, until she found out that her ex is considering going back to court to get full custody.
This has caused no end of consternation for the wider family. MIL and W, her mother, have been out thrift store shopping so the kids would have something to sleep on and clothes to wear. At the birthday party for our nephews this past Saturday, K's kids, Mark and Cindy, were dressed in clothes they had been wearing for three days. On the way home for the party, I started thinking about ways to help. We offered a couple of extra dressers and some spare linens, as well as mentioning the idea of "family-sourcing" the cost to get her things delivered. At first we weren't sure what was in the pod and if any of her furniture had been left behind in the house for her tenant (who may or may not be paying rent), but reportedly everything is in the pod. The last we heard was that E, Husbandido's oldest brother, was going to contact other family members to see who was willing to contribute and how much. On top of it all, E and W are not sure that K has been giving them complete or accurate information; they were hoping to be able to talk to the pod company directly before committing the funds. That was Sunday; we're still waiting to hear back.
Honestly, I have about a million emotions going on regarding the situation. If it were just K, both Husbandido and I would be less inclined to help; we have our own financial problems to deal with, and at some point, she needs to grow up. (K is only 5 years younger than me. If she were younger, we would probably be more inclined to help.) There were so many bad decisions that led to this point that it's hard to count them. But neither of us want Mark and Cindy to suffer. It's not their fault that their mother is a flake and their father can be verbally abusive. If their father was a decent adult, I would say that perhaps him ending up with full custody could be a good thing. But he's not. (At Cindy's second birthday party, he was belittling K to his friends and family in front of her, her friends and family. It was so bad that I turned to Husbandido, saying "If you ever tried something like that, your things would be out on the lawn in under an hour." [And I don't believe in divorce, except in extreme circumstances.] Another example was when he was dropping Mark and Cindy off for a family birthday party, he spent a lot of time griping to K that Cindy, who is 3, would get moody and upset on Sundays, the day they swapped custody. The rest of the time she was fine, but he "was was not going to put up with that kind of behavior." Bear in mind that Cindy is 3, and each week she is being passed back and forth to households with very different rules and environments. It also seems not unlikely that a sensitive little girl might pick up on the fact that Mommy and Daddy don't seem to like each other much anymore.) And so even though we're not spending money on things we might want or could use, we're volunteering to cover up to $100 of the approximately $550 needed to get the pod back. We've also volunteered to help unload, so that process can happen quickly and costs can be kept down. I know it's the right thing to do, but part of me resents it and feels like a doormat. I kept being reminded of the phrase "A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part," which is also true. There are also times when I feel like there ends up being a subsidy flowing from my family to Husbandido's, through us, which makes me a little uncomfortable. For now, we are waiting to hear back from E; I decided that we are not going to follow-up repeatedly to see if they have it sorted out and when they need the money. We do not need to chase them down to hand them our hard-earned cash. It doesn't mean we won't help; it just means that it is not primarily our responsibility.