Matters of the Heart: Extended Family……

I’ve come to the conclusion that  people have different ways of dealing with the subject of Extended Family. How do I begin, where do I start?

I guess it became apparent when my oldest daughter would listen attentively while I gushed over my 2 step-children who I adore. There were never two more adjusted kids, besides my youngest, all of whom I am very proud of. With all the ups and downs that our 3 have had dished out to them, they seem to have developed pretty tough shells and let most things roll off their backs, without fuss.

Well, the two youngest do-the older sibling does have confidence issues, but she’s getting better. I try to be there for her, and if I hear one more time, I’m “babying” her, I am going to blow a gasket. I’m her mother, don’t take that away from me, I’m not  letting her sit on her laurels while I hand money out like candy. There’ I’ve said it and I am gushing again, my bad.

So, anyway, when I’m done talking with Older Sister, the topic always turns around to bite me in the end. There are others who have had to deal with the displacement of a sibling. Well, of course I know that. I’ll be the first one to ask a homeless person if he or she is ok,  needs a hand, an ear to bend, and my kids are no exception.

The problem seems to be that although oldest sibling’s family lives in a different state, and they do complain that she doesn’t come down that often, only one sibling has made concerted effort to appear interested in her welfare throughout the past 10 years. The other two don’t seem to have time to do anything but pass judgment and talk amongst themselves. Out of sight, out of mind.

DD18 deals with the lack of connectedness to her 3 older siblings, but I know it has bothered her a lot. Sometimes it was her only defense when lashing out at someone, just to make them hurt like she does. Did I mention her confidence? That is such a complex area. I can no longer find a way to help make her feel she is a part of her own Extended Family. It has become painfully clear to both of us that she and I are the Outsiders, and it doesn’t appear that will ever change. No matter what I do or say in either of our defense, my daughter and I will wear the Scarlet Letter “O” as a reminder of where we stand.

So when we are all together, we are happiest -no one is left out, or made to feel less deserving of the bonds of family.

I don’t understand why people who are supposed to be the adults, feel a need to lash out at each other through the children. Is it a feeble attempt to make themselves feel better, possibly as a result of their own parents lost the ability to connect with their children?  Even when nothing is said, there is always that underplaying jealousy, that feeling that “someone else” caused the disruption in their lives, which brings out the beast in people, and the children always end up on the losing end of the argument.
The end result is, the children form their own opinions that we as adults, are pretty much completely nuts and that we have an Off button which they can mentally tune us out with. They distance themselves from all manner of  instigator(s) and go about their lives, all the while developing their hard outer shell that they will need later in life. Then when they go out in the Big Cold Cruel World, they will be better able to handle the prejudice and jadedness of others of their generation.

They will ultimately become like us, but hopefully with a sense of purpose, of change, of betterment. Most parents want better for  their children, but the kids could care less what adults want or think-it’s all about them, and they will do things their way.

I think I spend too much time alone with myself, and it is causing much distress lately. I crochet and knit to forget the pain of isolation. And now I have put my knitting aside-it causes more pain in recent months and is something I need to work on. I’m not done, I’ll never stop crocheting or knitting- I just need to take a break, to think and to forget. And so I crochet in the early morning hours, and ponder the meaning of Family/Extended Family. I will not stop doing what I enjoy doing, even when hurtful remarks are thrown my way, things like, I am “becoming an old lady”, because I crochet or knit. It’s my outlet, I need to keep busy. I don’t go places, other than to town, the grocery store, the Post Office. My circle of friends? I don’t have one-I have acquaintances. I get Girls Day Out when I can get my girls together in one place and the time is good for an outing. Those have been very few…only twice or three times this year, that I can recall. Nothing remarkable, just a trip to Kohls Dept. store to buy cloths, a new bra,  or to look at kitchen gadgets,  in order to use a much-coveted 30% discount coupon, when lucky.

I miss Door County. I love that place, it makes me feel alive again, like I do when I’m in the Sierra Nevadas, wandering among the trees, rocks, beaches. The places are worlds apart, but very similar, and it feels like Home when I’m in either of those places.

Like my musings, I’ll return to Door County, when I am able. It’s good for clearing the head.

Cana Island Lighthouse April 2006

Cana Island Lighthouse April 2006

Have a beautiful evening.



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