Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Getting along

I’ve decided that there are few truly easy relationships.

At work, you are never able to truly be yourself. There is always a professionalism and certain decorum that needs to be maintained.

Friendships are complex. I have a friend from elementary school. I never forget her birthday and feel as if I could call her day or night with any problem, but we live 1000 miles apart and that leaves many limitations. She doesn’t know my day-to-day stuff, so that leaves the superficial topics for our rare phone conversations.

Because I’ve moved a lot, I don’t have many longtime friends. I just don’t have the desire/time to keep up friendships I’ve met along the way as well as I should.

New friends are great. They don’t know all your crap, so you can totally start over. Hold back showing all your insecurities. Reinvent yourself if you will. The bad part is, though, that because they don’t know all your crap there is no true glue that holds it all together. Hope is always there, though. Hope that it will develop into more. However, at this time in my life (kids/work/marriage/house) I don’t really make it a priority to deepen friendships.

Family is just plain weird. Having my dad and brother here for three weeks was eye-opening. First of all it was like having my mom’s absence thrown in my face over and over again. My brother and dad have started turning to me in uncomfortable ways. My dad is meta-morphing into a desperate single retiree who is on the prowl and my brother is … well, just difficult. He has always been Mom’s project. She did all his clothes shopping. She was who he talked to about problems. She was his staunch supporter when he made loads of mistakes in his teens and twenties. She is no longer around and he has chosen me to replace her. But I don’t really want to. My dad has also chosen me to replace my mom as his new confidant. I like it at times, but know I will be replaced when he hooks up with some hot widow at grief group.

The relationship of marriage? Where does one begin? Ups and downs. Highs and lows. Compromise and reward. Complex and yet very simple. Chris and I are best friends, but also our toughest critics. When nurtured, our marriage is amazing. When neglected, it can turn my world upside down.

That leaves the relationship between a parent and her kids. This summer off began simply. I loved being home with the kids. They responded with good behavior and wonderful energy. As the weeks went on, we struggled. Then the guests began. The break in our routine was actually good. However, not all of our guests agreed with my parenting style. My dad believes that children should be seen and not heard.  My brother, on the other hand, is a completely content parent. He loves being a dad to the core of his soul. At first I was skeptical. As siblings, we have little in common besides sharing an upbringing. I couldn’t accept his style. He brings his kids everywhere. For example, one morning we were short on milk. I quickly volunteered to run and get a gallon. He began to gather the kids and tell them to get dressed. I interjected that I was going alone as he was there to watch the FIVE children. He sincerely stared with disbelief that I didn’t want to take him and the children with. “It will be fun!” was his remark.

Now that he is gone, it is easier to look back on the week he was here. Even though he still drives me batty – due to our cavernous differences – he taught me a lot. He reminded me what parenting should be all about. It SHOULD be about enjoying my children – not about getting through the day. There have been several days this summer that I did not like being a mom at all. Several that I liked it for a few hours, but very few that I can say I truly LOVED parenting my two amazing little people. Since he’s been gone, though, that has changed. I look at them differently. I understand the root of their behaviors with more patience. I have returned to playing with them – not just working/cleaning/reading around them.

Thanks, Mark. Who would’ve thought that my little brother could teach me a thing or two?

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