Cheers to No-Drama Family – Aug. 21, 2021

Stages of Life

Over the years, I’ve found tremendous comfort in the stability of my in-law family, especially with my sisters-in-law and, as time has progressed, their husbands. My own family is pocked by constant drama. It took me a long time to recognize exactly how not-typical my own family is and to realize that someone doesn’t always have to be mad at somebody. I can count on no hands the number of times my wife and her sisters have been genuinely mad at each other since I’ve known them, on one hand the number of times any sort of upset lasted more than a few hours.

This stands in stark contrast to my own sibling, who embodies the word “volatile” and seems to think I have as many redeeming qualities as Ted Bundy. My sister is not alone in sipping from the tree of volatility, especially on the female side of my family. So yeah. That’s what I grew up with. That’s what I grew up around. And to say it didn’t help shape me would be to ignore the “nurture” part of the nature-nurture combo.

We spent this afternoon at Wifey-Poo’s little sister’s house. She’s married to a fantastic guy who’s made a great life for Little Sis and their three kids. So there we were, Wifey-Poo, Big Sis, Little Sis and all the husbands, bobbing in the pool and talking while sipping some adult beverages. We’ve gone through so many stages of life together. Wifey-Poo and I were the first to get married. Then Big Sis did — to another great guy. Then Little Sis. So there was the wedding phase. Then the kid phase. Then the toddler phase. Lately, it’s been the teen phase and the getting-older phase. All of us seem to make noises when we sit down and get up now.

But this afternoon we talked about caring for aging parents. My mother-in-law is slowing down. Big Sis’s father-in-law is having mobility issues and keeps falling. We talked about the challenges of parenting a parent, of having to lay down the law on certain things when they’re too stubborn to do what’s in their own best interest, how we can’t keep being the person who picks their parent up when they fall if they’re too vain to use the walker they truly need. We’re the sandwich generation now.

And here’s the thing: It was so calm and relaxed, all of us talking as friends and relatives without any fear that someone was going to explode and cause a family drama. We could just be. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really learned to appreciate being around people with whom you can just be. I need to work harder at shrugging off whatever nature/nurture combo makes me a person around whom others can’t just be.


The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day

‘Did he just sing that he likes Cheeze-Its and America too?’

My niece, after listening to the first verse of ‘Free Fallin” by Tom Petty

Today’s Reason to Keep Living

Driving with my mother-in-law isn’t the easiest thing. She is the very definition of the backseat driver, and she sees huge threats from cars and trucks not even in the same ZIP code. We drove her out to Columbia for the family gathering, and, mercifully, on the way there, she slept.


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