Family Matters

Family Dinner. For our April birthdays.

This was my dream, something I started planning in March, knowing how congested the sports schedule that the boys are entwined with would be.  I knew my surgery was April 26, and I would not be able to go out for a few weeks.  So I nagged, consulted Blackhawk/White Sox/Pet Lions calendars and came up with two dates for a family fest.  Once the playoff dates were final, we abandoned a mid-week dinner for a weekend date.  We would be able to spend time together, open gifts, have cake and not watch the clock.  Saturday was the night.  A good time was had by some

The details do not matter.  Family is messy.  Social commerce turns to social homicide.  Old roles are revisited, the safety net of family allows mean words to spill out.  Charm is lavished on outsiders, cruelty turns into the family circle. Public celebrating demands that things be smoothed over.  The joy evaporates. Salvage is the key.  Gifts are unwrapped, cake is eaten, Happy Birthday.  Good Bye.  Bed is welcome.  Bad dreams ensue.  

Then we get up, and the wine that lubricated my evening and allowed us to move forward is not a buffer.  I remember how tenuous the peace was.  I know that people were strafed and I pray that they are not damaged.   I see my life's work, my family, as an organism that could change in ways that I never wish to see.  Steve is withdrawn.  A bad sign.  
I am an accommodator, Steve is an eliminator.  He prunes painful times from his calendar. He has done all that his children needed from him:  supported them, educated them without debt, loved them, quit drinking, admired their work.  He explained the mysteries of boys to me so that I did not make catastrophic mistakes.  He does not expect pay back.  He expects peace.  When family time means war, he will prune family time.  And my life will never be the same. Happy Birthdays, indeed.

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  • Aww, it's OK. It's the family dynamic. Just because they're grown adults doesn't mean that the old sibling stuff/actions don't rear their ugly head every now and then. I suspect that in the following days, everything will slowly mend - they won't allow you to go to surgery with this on your mind. Hang in there.

  • Boys, my brothers are in their 50's as am I and we just got together for my Dad 80th and although we all get along fine.. the jabs and sarcasim didn't stop.... luckily my Mom doesnt hear as well anymore so it doesn't bother her as much.... I am sure Steve will let it go..

  • Thanks for the encouraging words. I am sure this will fade- maybe what makes it so harsh is that the turmoil is so familiar! I guess I will eventually be hard of hearing too! I never thought of a bright side to going deaf- but now I have one! Thanks for the cheer.

  • This situation recently occurred in our family, too, and I am experiencing the same fear of loss and change that you are. Our husbands tend toward same approach in dealing with the angst, anger, and frustration that come with family relationships. Although my head tells me that it is probably a better way to self protect, my heart feels like it could shatter in a million pieces at the prospect of a potential fatal loss. Our family members are working toward healing, and I know yours will, too. I'll keep you all in my thoughts.

  • Sounds familiar-I always feel like I am in the middle between husband/kids or the 3 kids-responsible for everyone's happiness. Does anyone care that much if I am happy?

    I am getting to the point where I realize that it is not my job to cater to adult children and have been pleasantly surprised to find out that everything comes out OK.

    They can figure it out on their own. I only nudge them to figure out how to relate to each other as adults not always siblings/parents.

    Too much of a burden and I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing this. Try it Janet-it is liberating.

    Good place to vent-kind of reminds me of the Kathy and Judy days on WGN :).

  • Janet,
    As the mother of 5 grown children, I understand your feelings. When they were small, we kept them close, chastised them when it was needed and gave them our undying love. Now, they have left our homes to become their own person and they forget that others have sacrificed so much so that they could have a good life. Sometimes they need to be reminded that kindness, thoughtfulness and a word of thanks really does matter..... especially in families!!!!!

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