My Imaginary Family

It turns out the family in my mind and the reality of my family are two different things.  The family in my mind is hurt that they aren’t all at the birth and excited to be there just after.  They have to be fought off constantly.  They are audibly excited to be aunts and uncles and grandparents.  The reality is that they have to be asked to come visit and they are more than happy to visit later, much later, after the child is born.  After he is several months.  Even then, they are open about the problems that visiting will cause.  The pets that have to be boarded, the method of transportation.  The number of people coming.  They offer subdued congratulations and only sometimes remember to call.  They are not audibly excited.

This probably makes them sound worse than they are.  I know they are looking forward to meeting Vegas and I know they are excited.  After all, they are already aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, grandparents and great-grandparents.  We’re practically the last to add to the extended family.  I would blame it on this – the shadowed weariness of the second time around – but I think it has more to do with their very reserved nature.

I don’t come from effusive huggers.  I don’t talk to my mom every day.  We’re not best friends.  My sisters and I don’t have long gabs while painting our nails and shooing our husbands from the room.  My father didn’t give D permission to marry me and there wasn’t an aisle for him to walk down.  My grandmothers did not bake cookies, did not giggle with me in a fort, did not let me braid long white hair.  My sisters’ husbands don’t come over to barbeque.  We don’t all live in the same town, same state.  This isn’t Cosmopolitan, Family Circle or Little House on the Prairie.  I’m not sure why I expected them to be different.

And since I’m related to them, it’s no surprise that I don’t want them here for the birth, that I’m happy to have them come later.  I’ve always been more independent.  After so many years, it would only be surprising if they hadn’t learned that.  But it does’t stop me from wanting it all somehow.  A tiny slice of each bit would be welcome – a little enthusiasm, a request for a picture, discussion over plane tickets.  It isn’t forthcoming.  I love them for what they are, but sometimes I wished they lined up to the family in my head just a tiny bit more.

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3 Responses

  1. I just had this very conversation with my therapist after my fathers funeral.I told her that once again i got off the plane waited to be picked up from the airport and greeted with over the top enthusiasm.The enthusiasm of “we missed you”.i let my head go to wanting them/us to be the Huxtables and all i got was disappointed,again.

    No bear hugs,no faces covered in kisses or streaming tears of joy. Just hey.

    We’re southernly formal,about everything.

    When do we stop wanting someone else’s family?

  2. likety like like like

  3. This hits home.

    When my wife and I got married, I was kind of let down by my family’s reaction as well. They didn’t really react when I told them we were getting married, and they never asked about our planning, or how things were going, or anything like that. On the other hand, they did come out for the wedding, and they did bring both my brother and my grandmother (which was quite the task), and they paid for us to have a reception on the east coast as well. So, I think that was their version of supportive (and believe me, we greatly appreciated it). But I’ll admit, I was kind of hurt for a while that at least at the beginning, they didn’t seem to care about what was, to me, a fairly major life event.

    I really don’t know how they’ll react to becoming grandparents, but I don’t see them going all-out overboard or anything. I think my wife’s parents are more likely to go that route, but then, they already have 3 grandchildren, all of whom live near them (which we don’t), so we’ll probably be less of big deal for them, too.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really want them here right whenever our eventual child is born. It would just be nice to feel like they want to be involved. And I don’t know how much of that we’ll get, either.

    Also, if it makes you feel any better, the only time my parents call me is on my birthday. Other than that, I have to call them, although my mother will e-mail me if it’s been more than a couple of weeks since we talked.

    Probably none of this is useful, but you’re not the only one in this boat. Sometimes just knowing that helps.

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