I spent a large portion of my childhood trying to make sure that everyone in the family was happy. Or at least it feels that way sometimes. Can’t spend too much time with dad, mom gets hurt. Dad gets annoyed because we want to be with mom for the weekend. Mom gets upset because all she wants for Christmas is everyone to be together (difficult to manage with 2 kids, 2 step kids, 2 sons in law, 3 step grandchildren, jobs, life, and oh yeah dad’s family too). I frequently felt like I had two adding machines in my head that had to have an equal total at all times.
As I have gotten older, that feeling of making sure everyone is happy hasn’t gone away. My mother, however, has taken a different, passive aggressive approach, now telling me that “I pull this crap every year and she’s tired of it”. No, I don’t pull this crap every year. I feel this way every year, have ever since I was about seven. Holidays, Graduations, Birthdays, you name it. I still remember my mom getting all angry and complaining that she was the one that did all the work and then my father’s family got to be the ones that went out with my brother after his high school graduation leaving her to go home alone. And that was almost 15 years ago. Can you blame me for being tired of it?
Tomorrow is my birthday, which as far as I am concerned is also known as Tuesday. No big deal. I had planned to go to work, do my usual Tuesday immunotherapy on my lunch hour, and then come home and work in the yard. I had even conned B. into coming over to help. Instead, I found out today that my brother is going to come home, let’s go out to dinner. Great. Thought it would be just the two of us, maybe join my cousin and his wife. Now my parents are coming, possibly even others, and it’s Christmas holidays all over again. Do whatever you want, it’s your birthday, but we better be there and it needs to fit our time table and be in our price range, blah blah blah blah. Just make sure that brother spends some time with us while he is here, you can’t keep him all the time, etc., etc., etc.
Can’t I just go back to having it be a Tuesday? I was looking forward to my day of digging in the dirt, hanging out with Beth, getting a hot shower and getting to bed early. Don’t get me wrong, I really want to spend time with my brother as I talk to him less now as he lives two hours away than I did when he lived 12 time zones away. We haven’t had the chance to seriously catch up on the big stuff (job, love life, etc.) and I’m looking forward to being able to just chill out. Then he’s going to help out with the front yard, so, score. But I am instead feeling the pressure to be a hostess, make sure everyone is happy, make sure everyone is able to choose something from the menu that they like, that it is in everyone’s price range, blah blah blah blah.
I know that there is no Cleaver family in reality, and I don’t want that. I just need to find a way to be at peace with activities in my family. Spending time alone, spending time with my family, I shouldn’t feel any sort of guilt about this sort of thing. It’s an interesting conundrum. It always turns into some sort of drama. I am in my mid thirties and still single, and feel like it’s a crime. I feel like I do my best to be a dutiful daughter, yet when I want to do something for me or that makes me happy it’s inconvenient. I feel like I’m being torn in two sometimes, and it’s just a mess.
I can’t be the only one that feels this way, but I just want a drama-free, chaos-free, guilt-free existence within the group. Is that allowed at all?