In family's universe, I am not a star

In my house, everyone is the center of his or her own universe, while I am not much more than a non-planet planet, like Pluto, or a gas-bag planet, like Saturn.

That is never more evident than when I am under attack, and the people I love most hesitate to fly to my defense or to comfort me without first checking their personal agendas.

They might as well ask, "How is this about me?"

Recently, a number of angry readers chose to disagree with me by mocking my appearance and commenting on my relative attractiveness to the opposite sex.

Not exactly the high road in political discourse — and not exactly a grown-up one, either.

But this is America, where the First Amendment protects your right to be an idiot, especially if you are a preacher with only a handful of followers, all of whom are relatives, and you think God likes the idea of tormenting the grieving families of fallen soldiers.

Anyway, I told my family about these profound exchanges with readers in the spirit of reporting on my day at the office, having long since realized that there is no point expecting pity from this crowd.

"What does that say about me?" my husband asked. A reasonable question for a man whose taste in women had suddenly come into doubt.

My daughter burst into tears and fled to her bedroom where, before slamming her door, she blasted me for saying something so upsetting to her.

It was clear that if I wanted anyone to feel sorry for me, I was going to have to stand at an intersection in rags holding a cardboard sign.

This is not the first time self-interest has been on display in my family.

When I decided to tell my children that I had been briefly married before I met their father — a recent family divorce had finally presented an opportunity to discuss this with my now grown children — their reactions reverted to type.

"Am I really the first-born, or am I only No. 1 in this heat," my son demanded. No, I sighed. No secret second family to reveal here.

When I sat down with my daughter, to explain and ask for her questions, her response, well, rattled me.

"Seriously?" she said. "With all the drama in my life, that is, like, nothing."

And I, of course, wanted to know what drama she had that could trump an unrevealed previous marriage.

When the kids confronted my husband, demanding to know why he hadn't come clean about the scarlet "D" hidden under my maternal vestments, he immediately threw me under the bus.

"I told your mother we should have said something to you guys earlier," he declared.

Never. Happened.

That's how I saw things, anyway. From out here, on the fringes of the universe.

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