Sunday, January 13, 2008


There's a saying: You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family. I don't think this is precisely true. My personal belief is that your soul does pick your parents. If your parents are abusive or assholian towards you, their children, this is not your fault - it is the free will of the parents. They are not supposed to be abusive or cruel; they are likely in a situation where they are supposed to resist violence. If they don't, they'll have to deal with this conflict in the next lifetime. Or the next. Hopefully parents are kind, loving and compassionate towards their children. I think everyone can agree on that.

Our parents are who they are, flaws and all. Some of us come from loving homes with kind, nuturing and supportive parents. Some of us come from homes that make the Manson family look like Father Knows Best. I'm sure most of us fall somewhere in between.

The more I think about family, the kind I came from as well as friends' families, the more I've been thinking about the kind of family I want to have. Me, Mr. Right and the Bee. That's our family right there. Mr. Right and I have been talking about this a lot, too. We like the Cleaver kind of family setting, but updated: Happy, productive Dad, nurturing, guiding, firm but loving. Handy around the house and enjoys fixing things: taking things apart and puts them back together, good as new. Happy, domestic Mom, cooking, straightening up (good Lord, who has time to clean! Subcontract that job out!), working nearly full-time, takes time to play and read with the kids. A firm, loving teacher who also knows that putting her needs first is not only important but essential. Once your own needs are met, you can happily see to the needs of everyone else. I learned from my own mother what not to do: putting everyone else first, thereby creating deep seated resentment for everyone in your family which you then use as ammunition in any argument. ("I ALWAYS put you kids first!" shrieked while squinting eyes and clenching teeth). Happy joy.

We spent Christmas Eve at my In-Laws, as we do each year. It was a little cold, and they seemed so high strung with the Bee, now 21 months, running around. "No! Come here! Don't touch that! Here! Come here! Sit with Omie! No! Sit!" Yeagh! The tension! When we left, Mr. Right let loose what had been bothering him about the visit.

"My father barely said two words to me! He was so cold and distant - he's always been moody. Yet he hovers over the Bee like a sticky shadow! And what was with them freaking out over everything Bee did? Calm down. Give the kid some room already! And you know what? You are absolutely right to wait to eat until everyone is seated and has been served. Absolutely right! It's just common courtesy! They never wait! They're like scavengers! Would it kill them to wait and start the meal together like a family?!"

Mr. Right grew up in a household fraught with tension and anxiety; screaming matches were the norm, usually lasting 4 or 5 days out of the week. His dad would be gone for days at a time, and his mother would endlessly complain about his "useless" father. Not something a boy needs to hear growing up.

I grew up in what I thought was a normal household. I didn't find out until later that it wasn't normal for your mother to tell you she wanted to kill herself all the time. My father didn't really know how to be a dad, but he learned. He was loving and at the same time, not amused by the usual-kid antics my brother and I pulled off. "I fail to see the humor," was his favorite refrain we heard most often. But he also went to my father-daughter dance my junior year in high school when he was sick as a dog with a fever. At least he keeps learning and getting better.

We can't control the kinds of families we came from, but we can create the family life we want to have. For example, we have dinner every night as a family. Either Mr. Right or I cook (depending on our schedules), we sit down together, say grace, and enjoy conversation over dinner. Obviously, we don't expect the Bee to wait to start eating, especially if we get started a little later, but he holds our hands as we say grace and says "Okay!" after the amen. We were not really a say-grace-before-dinner family before, but it seems like such a nice way to start the meal. And, of course, to give thanks for the food we are about to eat.

Bee sees common pleasantries exchanged between his parents on a daily basis... Please and thank-yous have always been said, we laugh a lot and genuinely enjoy each others company. Our household is relaxed and easy going. We're affectionate, hugging and kissing frequently. The only time we have the television is when we're watching something with Bee, or put something on to accomplish a task ( Nem.o, Rata.touille, Toy Sto.ry and the like).

I do wish I could be home with Bee more often, but I need to work. As in, we couldn't afford to hire someone for the work I do. Unless, of course, Mr. Right did all my work, too, in which case he would never see Bee and we would be two ships passing in the night. Naturally, this is not acceptable to either of us, so we are truly fortunate to have Mr. Right's dad watch Bee during the day. He's not ideal, but he's far from a bad choice and we have to work with what we have.

Naptime has really straightened itself out, by the way. As of my typing these words right here, he has been sleeping for 1 hour and 22 minutes. I put him in his crib, when he said "Stay," I said I would certainly stay for a while. I put his little blanket over him as he got into his favorite position, perpendicular at the top of the crib. I sat down on the floor next to him and told how how much I loved him, how happy we were that he choose us and was a part of our family. Within five minutes his little thumb started to slide out of his mouth. I got up, put the monitor on and left the room with the door open just a crack. 1 hour 28 minutes; not bad. I know my in-laws do the exact same thing, so it really works out. That's a huge relief for me.

Gotta run- Bee is up from his nap: 1 hour, 35 minutes. I'll take it! I hope you all are well. Good afternoon, good evening, and good night.