Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sometimes families suck!

Sometimes I hate the holidays. I hate the juggling of family obligations. And the guilt. Oh, the guilt. I wish sometimes that the grandparents and everyone else could remember what it was like to be a young family and have to juggle everything. I wish they could remember not wanting to travel with young children. And wanting to be in their own home for Christmas day. I wish they would remember what it was like to spend Christmas as a small nuclear family and have the extended family 2,000 miles away.

But, this isn't the case. And there aren't 2,000 miles separating us, but 110. You would think it would be so much easier, but it's not. And I know that I put some of the guilt on myself because I'm a people pleaser (it's a flaw I tell you).

I just sent my parents a big ole e-mail about Christmas and visits in general. I pray they don't get mad or defensive. I didn't intend for that at all.

Let me give you some background. I am the oldest at 32. My brother B is 25 and my brother M is 22. I have four children 13, 7, almost 3 and 1. B has three children 10, 4, 1 and M has one child almost 3. B just recently got married. M lives with B and his family. They live 20 minutes from my parents. We live 2 hours from my parents. B and M and their families are ALWAYS at my parents house. Pretty much every Sunday they are there.

We, on the other hand, are not. And herein lies the problem. It's hard to get four kids packed up, make a 2 hour drive, hang out (and mind you it's never just us and my parents, B and M and their families are ALWAYS invited when we visit), pack up again and drive home. And it's pure chaos when we're there. B and M are still pretty immature. They cuss and get the kids all riled up. The talk about inappropriate things and generally cause trouble. My mother is usually in the kitchen making snacks and getting kids drinks and taking care of one of my brother's little ones. There is no time to actually visit or have a conversation.

So, we don't make the effort very often. But, we do invite my parents down to our house. Especially for birthday parties and things like that. But, at least half of the time they make excuses and don't show up. This year they've come to our town (I can't even say house, because one time they came for a soccer game and left from there) four times. And don't even get me started with Thanksgiving last year.

Ok, I'll spill it anyway. I've ALWAYS done our own Thanksgiving, since we've been married. Both families are always welcome, but we always stay home and do our own thing. Last year my parents were supposed to come. But, my dad decided to go golfing that morning. And he was gone for two hours longer than planned. By the time they go on the road the traffic was awful so they turned around and went home. And I had crying kids at the dinner table because they couldn't see Mima and Popa.

So, starting in October, they didn't come to Robert's birthday because M had a custody issue with his son that weekend. And they didn't even attempt Thanksgiving this year. Then Carissa's birthday party was on the 8th, but my mom was sick and they had a court date with M. So, they were going to come to our holiday open house on Sunday, but my mom was sick again. Not that I don't think she was sick, but jeez, something ALWAYS comes up. They never seem to be able to make the two hour drive, yet I'm usually there once a month and at least every other month so that they can see the kids.

This brings us to Christmas. Back at Thanksgiving (I made the trek up the their house the Saturday after so we could be together) we decided that we'd do our Christmas on the 22nd. I wanted to do Christmas Eve because I knew my dad would appreciate that if we couldn't be there on the actual day, but B said they had to go to his wife's father's house that day. So the plan were made. We planned the day for my husband's family around this, everything was good. We were going to try to convince my parents to come to our house on Christmas Eve since they'd be alone.

Except, last night we get a call from my mom saying that B decided they COULD do Christmas Eve. They'd just have to leave around 3:00. And it would mean a lot to my dad if we could switch it to that day. My initial reaction was anger. I was already upset about the cancellations for the last two weeks and this set me over the edge. Why am I now made to feel guilty? I was the one that wanted to do Christmas Eve in the first place!

Maybe I'm being spiteful, but I told them no. I told them that we couldn't do it. I told them that we hope to persuade them to come to our house to see the kids. By then the kids would have opened a lot of their presents and we were going to make a gingerbread house. I also told them how we feel neglected and that we feel that we always make the effort to visit, yet they never do. I told them that I am upset that my brother's children seem to come first and that sometimes we like to visit without everyone there (which I've said to them before, but my mom always tells me how much my brother likes to see the kids play, so I guess his opinion is worth more than mine). I hope they take it well.

Do you struggle with this? Why is it so difficult? I hope that when I'm a grandparent I'll understand and go with the flow. I'm sure it'll be hard not to see the kids and grandkids on the specific holiday day, but I think I'd also be willing to go to them if that's what works. Or to celebrate the season. It's not about the specific day, is it?


Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

I am so right there with you. And divorced parents makes it so much more complicated. Bleh!

Corey~living and loving said...

ummmm yeah....I am so donezo with the holiday guilt. arghhhhhhhhhhhhh I can't even talk about it.
my parents make all sorts of effort for my brother's kids....and um yeah...the guilt. I am sooooooooooooooooo over it!

holly said...

oh i just feel re-he-heally lucky that i live an entirely different continent away. yay me! the worst i get is guilt that i didn't mail their dang chrimbo cards on time. well.... kinda busy!

Stephanie said...

Oh, sister. I hear you on every single part - the guilt, the frustration, the showing favorites. My Thanksgving fantasy was dinner with just the four of us but that'll never happen with our ENTIRE families 10 minutes away. GRR.

Ingrid said...

I am sorry about the difficulties. Hugs to you.

Jeff & Lisa said...

I am sosososo with you on this! We were just there for Thanksgiving and I saw things in a WHOLE new light. Who knew that my brother could be so insecure and not let us have a moment alone with my parents. Just 'cause he has a 5m old (that my parents get so see ALL the time) that he wanted to get to "know" his cousins. By the end of the trip I was DONE!

sybil law said...

I understand you completely. My holidays have been ruined for years and I finally said NO MORE for Christmas Day, at least. And we don't. And it's awesome. And people get pissed and whine and moan and call me drunkenly at midnight to call me vile names but you know what? F_ck them!
It's my life, too.
And the guilt? Is gone. :)

Bubblewench said...

I'm all over the familiy stress. I'm the one with no kids that is willing to travel yet no one can make up their mind on what is going on!

Good luck. I konw you need it!

Mom in Sahuaritaville said...

I hear ya. Luckily its not my family, but my husband's.


We have to juggle the holidays too...it is tough, I understand exactly where you are coming from....I have two ex husbands; 2 kids from the first, 1 from the second, then hubby and I have Max...makes it hard to coordinate everyone/everything..hang in there...good for you for putting your foot down...don't you dare feel guilty!

Jo Beaufoix said...

I think you did the right thing. They need to know this stuff. My sister lives 200 miles away. When she comes down, everything revolves around her as we don't see her much so she comes first.
I feel so mad for you.
And now I've tagged you so I feel guilty too.
You don't have to do it. Or you can rant, or do 12 things I hate, or do nothing. I don't mind.
Just have a good Christmas OK. x

CamiKaos said...

you go girl

Susan said...

We used to. There were tears and recriminations every year because "Why do we do everything with YOUR family?"

Now,we just do whatever is most convenient on Thanksgiving, and on Christmas we have an open house. Everyone knows- if you want to see us that day, you come to us.

Now my SIL is thinking about getting married and asked me if she could "take over" Christmas celebrations when she did. Initially I told her "Hell, no". Now I think I might tell her every other year- but only if I can get Steve to agree to be in Disneyland on the "off" years.

Lara said...

Yes. I get this. Totally. Unfortunately.