They can be frustrating, dogmatic, overwhelming, annoying, and outrageously negative. They criticize, critique, judge, and feel the need to voice an opinion on every single subject discussed.
Not only that---due to unfortunately choices between my parents and siblings, some of us aren't on good terms with my parents. We're talking but not easily, words a bit forced, certain subjects avoided, people generally unhappy with the way things are but neither side willing to give.
I know that who I am has been greatly impacted by my family, the people I have been surrounded with for years. Even though I don't live with my parents any more, I still find myself thinking a certain way or doing certain things that I know are habits instilled by them.
(Like only getting gas from Canadian Tire in order to the get back the Canadian Tire reward money. My dad seemed to live by that rule and now it's the only place I feel I should pump gas from.)
It's not necessarily a negative thing, being so profoundly impacted by the family around you. I feel lucky that we're not a family that has been quiet, tiptoeing about each other, everyone busy doing their own things and lacking the care for each other. Sometimes it feels like the other way around--people care way too much about each other's business. They need to learn to back off during certain moment...but there's pros and cons to everything.
Tonight though, S and I headed over to the family house to have supper with them and generally shoot the breeze. J is going to visit C in Asia for a month so we were wishing her well, taking time to talk to her before she leaves.
We sat down with several pots of Earl Grey tea and played Skip-bo, Phase 10, and Uno. We talked, laughed, made crude jokes, drank more tea, argued, played more games, laughed, lamented our poor luck at the games, listened to music, and generally carried on like so for a few hours.
S and I were talking about how we would be financially tight for the next couple months (due to our move coming up), and before we left my Mom gave us two bags of random groceries and said they were never going to use them. Of course they would have...tuna, cream of mushroom, spaghetti sauce, spaghetti noodles, Alphagetti...every one in the family would have consumed those things at one point or another, but that's my Mom for you...sometimes she seems ungenerous in her soul because she won't give or compromise regarding certain issues, but then she does something quietly like that, and we're struck anew at how gracious our parents are.
They must worry. They must worry about our eternal souls, our finances, our relationships that might drag us down, the fact that we don't go consistently to church, our physical sicknesses and needs...they must lay awake at night and wonder where we are and what we are doing, whether we are safe or in a potentially dangerous situation. Once you're a parent, you never stop parenting. You never shut off that concern and love for your child.
JM comes over to S and I laying on the kitchen floor wrestling with M. He kisses each of us on the cheek and M hugs us. There's so much love covering the house, and it should be able to flood through the discontent and frustration. The grace should reach past the disagreements and differing opinions.
How do we get so caught up in these petty squabbles and little things, that we forget how much we love each other? When did we grow up into these people that are loud, opinionated, and a bit malicious and hurtful to each other?
I know one thing for sure--the love that is so strong should be strong enough to reach to each other in times of hurt, fear, and confusion. Perhaps we just need to learn how to show ourselves better...perhaps we need to become more transparent with our individual lives instead of being so independent and separate. Who knows the answers. I do know that I love my family despite all the rage and sadness I might feel due to them.
I love them. The ties that bind us, the blood ties are stronger than anything in the world. We're connected through shared childhood experiences, through the jokes and the tragedies, through the easy and difficult learning, through everything...We're a family and we might hate each other sometimes, but we love each other all the time.