Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional

When my whole family gets together, which is not that often these days, about the only thing we can agree on is nobody wants to sit next to our mom. She loves to talk, bless her heart. Thank goodness for grandpa and the grand kids. It's funny because even though she drives me a bit crazy, it didn't occur to me that my brother and sister would have the same attitude. My brother has always been closer to her, while I was most definitely daddy's little girl, so it was my little brother's attitude that surprised me more. Embarrassingly, I often still am, when I need money or a job, but my dad seems to think it's time to grow up, gosh darn it. My mom always has good intentions, but we can't help but hope it is not our kids, or our spouses, or ourselves, who's actions make them her current target of complaint. Is it wrong to be secretly thrilled to hear her go on about my niece and nephew drinking soda while my kids stick to milk and water? Who cares if the truth is she buys them all soda when they're out, like the spoiling grandma she is, even if she thinks she's stricter than her own kids? She manages to skirt around and take a very roundabout approach when it comes to criticizing the person she's actually talking to (Donovan is doing so much better than last year, we just give him anything he wants and he's stopped throwing fits.)

As strange as my mom can be, we had a pretty normal childhood, a pretty good one I have to say, although we both question why it is that two of her three kids can't seem to support themselves? Was there something they could have done? I like to think I am examining my childhood more not to blame my parents for anything, but to make sure I emulate the good and make changes as needed. My mom protected me from death, from illness, from most bad things. It was clear by my late teens and early twenties I had been over protected, and I'm glad my husband has chosen a more direct approach with our kids. When our neighbor died it took all my courage to walk over to console her widower. I then proceeded to hem and haw about how to tell the kids, approaching my husband with my dilemma. "Diane died" was his answer, after sitting the kids down. "Where is she? She's in the ground." Done, and done. We took them when we had to put our dog to sleep, which would freak my mom out to no end. It gave them closure, though, and while they may not exactly understand death (who does?) they feel comfortable talking about it.

We have a pretty functional family, with just enough crazy and disturbing anecdotes to create laughter and shock, but we are not even close to the league of the family in Jonathan Trooper's novel This is Where I Leave You. We've had divorce, infertility and an abortion, but have bypassed infidelity and punching each other or anyone else in the face. As I mention in my review over here, I'm a bit envious of their directness, their raw emotions that spill out during their seven days together. My mom may have had the Joy of Sex on her bookshelf, but none of us want to hear intimate details of each other's lives. I'd like to think I'm raising my kids to be somewhere in between.

This is part of the Silicon Valley Moms blog virtual book club. Head over there for more stories inspired by this captivating book. And full disclosure, I got a free copy of this book.


  1. LOL. I thank goodness for the grandkids at every family event. Especially inlaw events.

  2. "She manages to skirt around and take a very roundabout approach when it comes to criticizing the person she's actually talking to"

    Oh my gosh. Do we have the same mother? :)

  3. Your mom actually sounds really cool. Or maybe it's just a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence.