I go back and forth about whether I find it appropriate to voice family frustrations in such a public forum. On the one hand, most of my family doesn’t read this, so it’s not like they’ll be offended. On the other hand, I think there’s a special kind of dignity that comes with being “family.” A unique bond that makes you as a unit special and should make you willing to defend the integrity of any individual member of the family simply because they are part of your family. (Ha..maybe that’s why I love mob movies so much. Despite their “shortcomings”, they most definitely get my definition of family.) Venting about them on the internet just doesn’t seem conducive to supporting that kind of relationship. Unfortunately for me, a portion of my family doesn’t seem to have the same sentiments on this topic. And that’s where the problem comes in.
Long before I met my husband, I already had a pretty clear idea of what my future family would look like. I expected to have a fantastic relationship with my inlaws, calling them “mom and dad,” and being loved and accepted by them in the same manner a parent loves and accepts his/her biological children. I envisioned hosting huge holiday parties with both sides of the family coming together to celebrate, eat lots of delicious homemade food and have a great time together. I thought my family would be so close-knit that one day my kids would say something like “Wait a minute, is Nana Daddy’s mom or your mom? Is Aunt or Uncle so-and-so your sibling or Daddy’s?” Needless to say, since I have an overwhelming desire to get a few things off my chest, this is not the situation that I’ve married into.
I’m not quite ready to unload a laundry list of offenses and hurts that are so contrary to what I wanted my family to be. I feel like doing so would only contribute to the lack of family ties, although it may make me feel better momentarily. I just get so frustrated that I could quite literally scream. I had no idea there were people who valued family so little. People who thought that the definition of family means “We’re your parents, you’re the kid, no matter how old you get, and you need to bend over backwards to do what we say or we won’t talk to you anymore. In fact, we won’t just not talk to you, we’ll be rude to you when you call, refuse to cultivate a relationship with our grandchildren, insult your beliefs, have no concern for what you value and refuse to congratulate your accomplishments. ”
Okay, okay, okay….I’m definitely heading towards that laundry list. I’m still not quite sure that’s appropriate, but I’d be lying to say I’m not dying to expose every hurtful action and get a few consoling comments in reply.
I just really can’t fathom how we got in this situation. I know I had pretty high expectations. And I think it’s pretty obvious that I’ve reached a point where forgiveness isn’t coming naturally to me. But that doesn’t explain how we got here.
To further complicate the situation, my dear husband is totally nonchalant about the whole matter. He shrugs his shoulders and says something like, “This is how they’ve always been. They’re not going to change. Don’t get so upset about things you can’t change.” While he may have a point, I find his sentiments equally as baffling. In my experience, children have and inborn drive to be loved and accepted by their parents. Somehow, perhaps because of my initial expectations, my drive extends past my biological family and includes my inlaws. I just don’t understand how I can repeatedly be so hurt by their actions, yet time and time again Josh just shrugs his shoulders and moves on. Maybe I should try to respond similarly?
But I find that concept to be so sad. It’s so contrary to what I envisioned my extended family to look like. I don’t know which is more honorable, continuing to fight for a family I may never actually get or letting go and making the best of the incredible family members I do have. How do you choose between the potential of an amazing extended family experience and your own sanity in the meantime?