Family. It’s a complex word isn’t it? When I was asked about the visit with my family by friends my response often started, “I love my family but…” And it’s true. I love my family but. But they are exhausting sometimes. And this visit was no exception.
It was the first visit where the three of them (my parents and grandmother) were not crammed into my tiny apartment. It was nice to have time to unwind after each busy day and take that time and prepare for the next day.
I did notice that for the week my family was here I was falling into old routines that…well they aren’t the best things to be doing. I found myself getting frustrated at their lack of knowledge, knowledge that I shouldn’t expect them to have. They were frustrated that I wasn’t able to locate exact places for them or know exactly how many blocks the lunch place was. I walk here all the time or take public transit. I’m used to walking a few blocks and it’s not a big deal but I forget that my family doesn’t walk and my grandma can’t walk more than two blocks without having to sit for a break. Which is not a big deal if she would just let me know she needs to stop.
I forget that my parents don’t live in a big city and they certainly don’t live in a “walker friendly” or “public transit friendly” city. Those differences created a tension between everyone. I was frustrated by their complaints of always walking uphill and wanting me to find the “flat way” to get to the restaurant, store, whatever we were going to. I tried to make comparisons to San Francisco and how hilly that is to walk and this is no different. There aren’t “flat” streets that I’m avoiding on purpose to be a dick.
We had a good time. I showed them lots of good places to eat. We saw movies and went to some pretty good gardens and parks. We did a little bit of shopping and hit some good second-hand shops.
The last day of their visit I had to work and after a week everyone (myself included) was tired and ready to be back to their own routines. I ended up having to work a bit late due to some meetings that went longer than expected and that did not go over well with my family. My grandma got very passive aggressive and there was a lot fighting going on in the car on the way to the airport.
Before they got on the plane we had burgers and milkshakes and my family seemed to forget the fighting that just happened ten minutes ago. I forget how extreme my family is sometimes. Fighting one minute and happy-go-lucky the next. I forgot how exhausting that can be.
I love my family. I love spending time with my family. But the fighting puts me right back into the child headspace and I react to it like a child. Instead of remaining calm and trying to ease the fighting I play into it and cause more problems than I fix.
After seeing them onto their plane, everyone smiles, I took the hour and a half ride back home and reflected on everything. The good, the bad, and how could I have created a different outcome. It was good to reflect back on everything. I feel like I learned a lot from this trip that I wasn’t able to learn from previous trips. I was able to recognize some of the patterns present that lead to dysfunctional behavior and I have some ideas for ways to stem the tide when those behaviors start presenting themselves.
Although maybe the answer is to have everyone visit separately so I’m not feeling overwhelmed catering to everyone’s differing ideas of what to do. But the important thing is that they really only visit once a year and overall it’s was a great success. Everyone eventually went home pretty happy.
So, until next time…