Friday, December 23, 2011

Family Matters

I have never had the in-law problems that are such popular fodder for blogs and sitcoms.  My husband’s mom passed away from breast cancer when he was 10 and I have always had a good relationship with my father-in-law.  I am also lucky enough to have 3 amazing brothers-in-law (by the way:  brothers-in-law is such an annoying phrase to use).  We were all friends before Tim and I were Tim and I and we have remained so since.  No drama there!

I have managed to steer clear of drama in my family for the most part as well.  My parents are divorced, so our family is big and separate with lots of steps and significant others that have come and gone.  So, while I encountered some family drama this holiday season, I know I am one of the lucky ones.

And now I find myself wondering – how does everyone else do it?  Families have such varying personalities with such a history.  Everyone knew everyone else way back when and has seen each other in some of their worst moments.  And then everyone gets together at high stress times like weddings and funerals and holidays.  Put everyone and their spouses and kids in a room, shake, and add alcohol.  I picture a small town where you can’t avoid Sally (even though you keyed her car when she broke up with you) at the post office because where else will you be able to pick up your package?   Or high school – because everything matters in high school and one little mistake can blow up huge.  And Never. Goes. Away.

So what do people do with family drama?  Do you bite your tongue until the drive home when you rant and rave about everything to your spouse?  Do you hold it together until your third drink when you start to tell others how you really feel?  Is there a persona you put on before visiting family?  How do others handle the inevitable? 

And what about after the drama?  Does everyone pretend it never happened?  Do they tease and joke until it is just a quirky memory or do they chalk it up to one too many glasses of wine or a poor night’s sleep on the sofa bed (you know the one with the spring that jabs you in the kidney no matter how you lay)?

I look at my three boys and know (from my super referee experience) that there will be times when I am trying to pull them together while they are pushing each other away.  My siblings and I always came together when we needed to.  Whether it was keeping someone out of serious hot water or just getting the house clean before my Mom came home from work – we had each other’s back.  It’s funny as a Mom, to think that if they are teaming up to deceive me or avoid prosecution, that I have done something right!  I know that there is a sibling bond – it was evident whenever we brought a new little one home from the hospital.  Zac and Kyle definitely had it right away, even when Kyle threw Zac’s bear in the toilet – and when Zac threw Liam’s duck in the toilet.  At least they didn’t take their newborn brother and throw them in the toilet!  And you see it still when one is sick or upset – there is that sweet moment of caring before the advantage is seen and they swoop in for the momentarily forgotten light saber or computer.  Who knows what will come in the future?  But I do know that if my boys are still on speaking terms in their 20s and 30s – the kids will be alright.

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