Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

Expectation versus Reality

I keep coming back to this phrase. Because, really, it sums up the issue in a lot of different instances.

For instance, my mother comes to lunch today. And brings up my father’s behaviour towards my aunt and uncle at the induction ceremony. And it’s no surprise, right? I mean anybody paying attention knew it was coming. It’s (not a big) part of why I ran away and had my weekend of solitude on Thanksgiving. Because while it would be rude of them to speak about my father when he’s not there to defend himself, it would be so much more of a hazard to speak my mind to them while they’re hosting the family supper.

And let’s be honest; they can’t help themselves.

So my mother’s all worked up and wants to know why they all can’t just get along.

Seriously?

It all comes back to expectation versus reality, like I said here.

So, in this case, for whatever reason, my mother is expecting something very Norman Rockwell to come out of it… uh, Norman Rockwell, while under-rated, didn’t paint split families that communicate in proxy and through sarcasm, Ma.

So, I look her in the eye, and I tell her, like the grown up that I am becoming, that it is not my problem. That she (or my aunt and uncle, for Pete’s sake!) can talk to my father about his behaviour anytime they feel moved enough to pick up the phone. But it has nothing to do with me.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings to try to make it my problem.

Ah well, one day at a time, right?

Hooded Man With Spray Bottle by hin255/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This young gent might be more our speed to capture our family portrait… Whadda ya think?

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Choices and First Impressions

Hands Creating A Star by creativedoxfoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Hands Creating A Star” courtesy of creativedoxfoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

OK, so clearly if you look at the blogs I follow, without visiting those sites, you can assume that I am a hopeless romantic, with a desperate, perhaps obsessive need to marry and procreate, chasing all things stereo-typically feminine, relationships, home, children…

Would it surprise you to know then that I’m actually quite the pessimist romantically? Or that, contrarily, in no way do I feel like if I don’t get married and have children my life will be unfulfilled and signify nothing in the grand scheme.

See if you actually visit these blogs – and you should, these are sassy, smart, strong women, did I mention the sass? If you actually visit these blogs, you will find these talented writers show their battle scars proudly, and openly discuss choices – and how it’s not really about the choice you make, it’s about making the choice, and knowing that there are other choices that could have been made, that others will take, that it’s about humanity and figuring it out and embracing the mess, and feeling the pain, and creating your world through your choices. And building your community. It’s about finding people who support your choices and who will push you to make the choices that are right for you.

So. Pessimist me reads wedding blogs because like Meg says, it’s about hope. And growing up. And pessimist me reads mommy-blogs because they’re about struggle and innocence and growing up and the funny things kids do and about how mommies don’t stop being people just because they created people. And they help me work through my issues with my own mom.

What I’ve learned in my years of blog reading (and yes, I’ve read all the archives of 7 out of 9 of these blogs and I’m working on the other two), is that just as I like my Adam Sandler with some Drew Barrymore, I like my oh-my-goodness-love with a little bit of reality. I like my tragedy with a lot of existential irony. I like my comedy with some poignant revelations to the bigger truth of human existence. And I like it all with wit and conversation.

That is what they offer. That is what I’m trying to build here. That is what I’m bringing into my life, and putting out to the universe, because as people we don’t always look beyond ourselves to consider the other choices out there. We don’t always take the time to laugh at ourselves. To think about what we believe, and why. To look back on what we told the world we believed and say, “Now, I’ve changed. I’ve tweaked, I’ve grown, I find this to be true for me now.”

Because I am still growing up. And these people, I choose them as part of my community as I continue to grow into who I will one day become.

Thanksgiving

Domestic Turkey by Tom Curtis/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Domestic Turkey” courtesy of Tom Curtis/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, I am sitting in a Days Inn at 9:30 on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend… because I can. It’s lovely.

I know that we are “supposed to” celebrate this “holiday” by sitting with our families and counting our blessings… But here’s the thing.

My parents divorced when I was four years old. I’m not blaming them or their divorce for anything, at least not in this post. However, the life of a divorced kid can be complicated.

My experience was such that we had two of every holiday. Two Easters, two Christmases, two birthdays, summer holidays split between two cities… and Thanksgiving. It’s the worst.

I know two of every holiday sounds like every kid’s dream, but really, think about the logistics. You have to travel to two households to have at least two family dinners (usually three or four once you factor in grandparents), and you have to do it all in the same amount of time designed to accommodate one (or at most two) central familial celebration.

Easter is usually pretty easy; after all it’s mostly about the candy, right? Christmas, well, it’s spread over three “real holidays” and buffered by two weeks of school holidays, so you have ample recovery time.

Thanksgiving though, you have a weekend, and one statutory holiday, more turkey than you ever wanted to eat, and a driving time comparable to the cooking time of all of the giant birds combined.

Add to that the fact that your teachers pile on the homework “because you’ll have time – it’s a long weekend after all” and that your mother wakes you at 6:30 to start cooking the stuffing and turkey with her “because you’re the oldest, and it’ll be a fun mother-daughter bonding experience – besides, one day you’ll need to know this” and that you have to be nice to the cousin who takes over the conversation and claims to have experienced everything going on in your life before you and that your sister forgot to pack her underwear, again, and so she steals yours and you have to wear a pair of your mother’s and that your stepfather continues to be, well, himself so that when it’s your turn at the table to declare that thing for which you are thankful all you can think of is “My new adventure book, and my own room, into neither of which are any of you invited.” But you can’t say that, so you murmur “Family” and have done with it.

So I grew up to work in hospitality, which I loved. Because one of the best things about shift work, is that you can work all the holidays. Thereby, avoiding the hazards of family celebrations and not having to lie to anybody. Exaggerate, maybe, but outright lie, nope. “I do have to work Mom… my shift is supposed to end at four but you never know…”

But one of the worst things about hospitality is the pay. So if I wanted to be financially independent and own a home within the next ten years… well, I had to go corporate. And the worst thing about corporate life is you don’t work holidays.

So this year, I could have gone to my fella’s parents on Saturday, and my mother’s sister’s on Sunday, and my father’s on Monday, and been exhausted and frazzled come Tuesday but instead, I told them all I was leaving them. I was Going Away. To where I knew not, nor would I tell them if I could. I was going to sleep late. Or wake up early and make all the noise I wanted. I was going to eat what, and where, and when I wanted to, and explore a city for all it’s untold splendour.

My stepmom applauded me, and my father told me to be safe, and my mother was convinced that I was depressed and isolating myself (and she may now be convinced that I am in denial about those conditions), and the boyfriend (I have to give him a name here… let’s call him Dashing) said he was happy I was happy and was behind me one hundred percent. And my coworkers looked at me with pity and asked all sorts of bewildered questions, and my vocal coach seemed startled but mellowed, and the desk clerk checked me in with a “You ran away from home… on this weekend?”

So a mixed bag. Seems everyone has a strong opinion on this. Anyone out there want to weigh in? I’d love to hear your comments below.

A Celebration!

Fireworks by kornnphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Fireworks by kornnphoto/Freedigitalphotos.net

So after 25 years of divorce my mother’s side and my father’s side are destined to collide.

My graduation went smoothly, seemingly, so did my sister’s graduations. But then my sister got inducted into the hall of fame for her alma mater while my mother was in Europe. And so, my aunt and uncle stood in for my mother…

I went with my father, knowing they would be there, warning him they would be there. He seemed unfazed.

Stuck in a gym full of people milling about, no direction to their movements, the air growing steadily warmer from their jacketed bodies, with my silent father, as we scan the crowd for mines… Also known as my mother’s sister and her husband. Praying that when we found them my sister wouldn’t be with them so that I wouldn’t have to go and greet them while my father stood his ground, silent.

And people wonder why I’m wary of weddings or births or funerals…

Don’t get me wrong, I love my father. He may actually be the best man I’ve ever known. But that stubborn streak that allows me to hold grudges?? Yeah, totally got that from him.

See my mother wanted a divorce. So my father gave her one. And then her family ceased to address his existence. With the exception of my Grannie and Auntie B, all has been silent on the western front for twenty odd years.

In my mother’s world, she and my father could just get along. They could sit together at my sister’s tournaments, they could plan weddings and share expenses, they could have a drink, or at least be sociable when they meet in public forums… Heck, sometimes I think she wants joint Christmas mornings!

In my father’s world, well, there are a lot of things he’s like to say to her, I’m sure. So for the safety and sanity of all, unless it specifically has to do with my sister or I, he’s keeping his d*mn mouth shut and avoiding contact at all costs.

So of course we run into my aunt and uncle. And of course, coming from my mother’s world, they greet my father with an air of convention and restraint (or strained convention?) and he mutters “yeah…” as he passes them to see an old colleague who happened to coach at my sister’s school.

Not the most graceful, I know. He’s not perfect. But in his defence, what we’re they really expecting? You ignore someone who was once part of your family, your intimate community, for 25 years and just because you’re in the same room as him, that’s supposed to change and he’s supposed to be fine with it?

Meg & Co. over at apracticalwedding.com talk a lot about how people aren’t necessarily going to change their behaviour just because you have a special event going on. The best that can be asked for is a modicum of civility or avoidance on the day. After all they’re here to celebrate and support one or two people, not to mend fences or rehash old grudges.

I mean it’d be nice if a wedding or graduation or fancy dinner did spur some mending of fences, but it’s unrealistic to assume that it can happen on the day. If necessary, action should be taken beforehand, I believe, so that things go more smoothly and everyone knows what to expect.

In this case, my aunt expected civility and my father expected avoidance… I think my father was basing his expectations on history, and my aunt was basing her expectations on the mystical dogma of society… which if she actually knew my father at all, is a laughable assumption.

Now, who’s dreading her mother’s return from Europe, and the upcoming familial hell known as Thanksgiving???

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