Sunday, December 30, 2007

Strangers Among Us

My folks finally made it over today after rescheduling visits a half a dozen times due to one thing or another (mostly thanks to colds, flus and ear infections on this end). They brought birthday and Christmas gifts for Incrediboy, and we all had a ball playing with them. We had a nice visit over brownies and coffee, and I've felt fairly warm and fuzzy ever since.

My relationship with my parents has been a great source of angst for most of my adult life. I have never felt unloved - Yet have never felt that I quite lived up to their expectations of me - it seemed that I was always an unsavory blend of irritation and disappointment for them. Looking back I'm not sure how much of this was reflected by them and how much was assumption on my part - I will fully admit I could be a pain in the a$$. But my brother was a pleaser and bordered on being an overachiever - and while not maliciously, there were plenty of times that I was compared and subtly yet blaringly notified that was found wanting.

I don't think my parents meant to hurt me in any way - and I'm not altogether sure they are even aware they did. I don't hold a grudge toward them for any of it. But much of it is hard to overcome. I have often wondered how deeply it all has affected my self-perception, which has always been erratic.

We get along fine, but are not especially close. Many people talk with their parents and/or see them several times a week. I have often gone weeks or even months without talking to my folks, and it's been a good half a year since I saw them last. Rather strange considering they live less than an hour away from us. Granted, they have both been struggling with illnesses this past year, but it has always been this way.

Many times a visit with my folks has been upsetting. I feel it disrespectful to go into details, but suffice it to say I am very sensitive to their judgment, even as a grown woman of otherwise strong fortitude and confidence. Somehow I am always a little girl of terribly fragile emotion in their presence. And while I don't take sh!t from anyone in everyday life, I have a way of allowing the tiniest remark from them destroy me for hours or even days.

But something seems to have changed in this past year. Most likely hinged upon my Dad's battle with cancer, we are all a bit closer, a bit more comfortable and a bit less guarded.

We are still not a close-knit family as most are - it's more the feeling of extended family rather than immediate. My son knows who they are and is excited at the prospect of seeing them when we do - but shies away from them if a hug is suggested.

I think it bothers them a little. It does me, too.

I often long for the closeness that nearly everyone else seems to have in their families. But my family is mine, and I love them. I will take whatever is given.

8 comments:

martie said...

And you,my dear, are our family too. And we feel that closeness with you and hope you do with us. I can't replace your Mom, nor would I ever want to, but I do feel the closeness with you I feel toward Naive! I just don't get to see you or talk with you as often! Know that you are much loved from this end and sending many, many hugs to hold you over till we see each other again!

Spellcaster said...

I could almost write this post world for word. I feel the same way that you do. HUGS from me!!!

Danielle Blogging for Balance said...

You know what brought me comfort when I would dwell too long on the 'injustices' of my childhood...this poem by Russell Kelfer:

"You are who you are for a reason.
You're part of an intricate plan.
You're a precious and perfect unique design,
called God's special woman or man.
You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
he knit you together within the womb, you're just what he wanted to make.
The parents you had were the ones he chose,
and no matter how you may feel,
they were custom-designed with God's plan in mind,
and they bear the Master's seal.
No, that trauma you faced was not easy.
And God wept that it hurt you so;
but it was allowed to shape your heart
so that into his likeness you'd grow.
You are who you are for a reason,
You've been formed by the Master's rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
because there is a God."

When I think about parenting this is what I think: as a parent I know I love my child to the ends of the earth, I also know that I am doing the best that I know how, as a parent, at this specific point in time. I believe this is how our parents felt. They loved us in the only way that they knew how at that specific point in time. I also believe that the reluctance to hug and show affection is more generational than personal.

We can't ask or expect our parents to be something they were not meant to be. Just as we cannot ask our children to meet our expectations and be something other than what they were meant to be.

I understand the longing for an extended family that pokes their nose into your back door on a daily basis (grin)...but certain families carry a 'toxicity' with them that bleeds into your 'immediate' family. And for me, the most important family that I have is my husband and daughter. It is my job to protect myself and them from 'toxicity'.

As adult children, we will always love our parents...even when we think we hate them..it's because we love them. However, it doesn't mean we have to like them.

Sorry so long ;)What I meant to say is that I understand.

Nelly said...

I have been lucky and I think I sometimes take my family for granted. As you know, my parents live on my street, my sister just a couple blocks away and my husbands brother lives two subs over. We are VERY fortunate that everyone is so close and everyone gets along.

I'm not very good with words sometimes when it is something I am not familiar with, but I do know what you are saying and I do understand your feelings.

Hugs Clewy!

Shawny Sun said...

((((Clew))))

Not so long ago, I blurted out to my grandma while talking on the phone how I knew that I had not turned out the way she thought I should have. She responded by saying that she was very proud of me. I have often thought because I didn't marry and have 2.5 kids that I stood out as this oddity to my family. But when she responded quickly with sincerity, I knew that I had been harder on myself than perhaps they would ever be. So, I can only speak for myself, but what you typed made me think of that conversation as of recent.

Hugs and Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Hey,

You can Pick your Friends and you can Pick your nose, But your born into your Family.

Pick good freinds and big greenies and you'll be fine.

Lori said...

I sometimes wonder if my stepdaughters could write this about their dad. I try to write to them often, hug them and ask them about their personal lives, etc. when we are together...but he is more detached. I see them longing for a closeness that he seems unable to give them, though I know he loves them very much. Though I'm very close to my mom, there have been times I feel I've disappointed her greatly, though she has always been very complimentary and loving... Maybe it is really disappointment I feel towards myself. I don't think men ever feel this. Perhaps we never outgrow wanting to feel wanted or accepted.

Rebecca said...

Ah Clew, I can so relate. My parents came and stayed with us this holiday - and there's been quite some tension over the fact that they moved out of state a few years back. I so long for the childhood of my memories for my own children - complete with grandparents and dinners and laughter. But yet....it seems that things change.

I so know how you feel sistah.