PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Learning to Have Family.....

When I was growing up, my family was, essentially, my mother & my father. A black lab was my stand-in sibling. There were very few visits with family, we would see my dad's sister every so often, and I adored her. My mother's family was always at arm's length, and most visits were obligatory and had lots of kvetching on the front & back ends.
So I don't know how to "have family", I've concluded. My husband has a pretty large circle of family, that gathers together for everything, and attendance is expected. Spending time together is mostly desirable, and spending more time together is a "bonus". Another foreign concept for me.

I've been challenged today to be more flexible. To give more of my time to family, because they are, in essence "my family". And they're not bad, or awful, or too insane as far as family goes. The most certainly give me lots to laugh at! James invited his grandfather to go hunting with him tomorrow, and the next day, and in doing so, invited his grandmother to spend all day, and possibly the next day, too, with me! And I did not react well, both in front of family (that was more just pursed lips and big eye glances) and then once they left, the Discussion took place. Actually, several Discussions took place. One, I was raised that when you have company, everything has to be perfect, and you set aside your plans and time to devote completely to company. Two, I was not raised with doing things with family, and being an only child, I love having time to myself and react badly when it is taken away. Three, James is going to learn (and had an opportunity later that evening) to INCLUDE me in these discussions, to consult me & my plans, rather than just stating it will happen without regard to what I might want. Because that is the crux of the matter, here. I am planning to see Shelley for her birthday tomorrow, Mike & Gordon will hopefully stop by, and I was not planning on having to take care of anyone else but me. And when you consult the aforementioned Company Rules, my plans go out the window. That is when James said, "But they're NOT company. It's *family*."
And a little bulb went off, that this IS different somehow, and it's not something I know. So I'm not going to do it right all the time, but it also means it's an opportunity to learn to do it differently. And his grandmother is NOTHING if she's not a gamer. The woman will eat any kind of food - she may not like it, but she'll try it! I'll look through my library, too, for a good book to lend her - she likes to read, and rejected our Lemony Snickett books as "too depressing". I don't need to wait on her, we'll make chocolate cherry biscotti together, and I can do some of my own "stuff" without feeling guilty. I can try, anyway.

So, when James was talking to his mom on the phone later, and started to invite her along to the dinner out with my father, he caught himself, stopped, and asked me about it - which is really what I need most, to feel some part of the decision. Of course we want her to come along. THANK YOU for asking.

And as I was munching on the snack mix his grandmother left us, I said, "Does she use the standard Chex Mix recipe and add cheetos & nuts?" James replied, "I dunno." I couldn't resist. I said, "Oh, never mind. I'll be spending the next 48 hours with her - I'll just ask her then."

We both laughed. It's important to laugh, and what better place to start? With family.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:49 PM