Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Family that Camps Together

Most of you know that I recently returned from a family vacation.  A mom and dad, siblings and their spouses and spawn sort of vacation.
And for the most of the time, it was an enjoyable, if not eye opening time had by me and my own immediate family.  Specifically speaking, my own spawn, Olivia.

When I arrived at the campground - where cell service dies and nature takes over - after a three hour long trip that left my feet in such bad shape that I all I wanted to do was cry, I bit back the tears and said a happy and grateful hello to everyone as I saw them and as they arrived - car after filled up car.  All of them smiling back and returning hugs and asking the same old questions, "How was the drive?"  and "How have you been?"

Just three hours after arrival, a true test to the camper in everyone came in the way that only Mother Nature can give.  Rain.  And not just tiny annoying drops of drizzle either.  I mean, heavy and torrential rain.  Rain so hard that when my sister and her clan finally arrived, they sat in their van for a good solid hour till they felt comfortable enough to set up without getting too wet.

So, with 14 people, all getting wet and soaked underneath of one small canopy start talking and catching up, that's when the eye opening began - for me at least.  It was a simple request.  One, that as a mom I had every right to demand.  It was a simple, "Take this umbrella, go out to my car, open it up and get a fresh change of clothes.  Put them on and get warm and dry."
Sure, it's almost impossible to get warm and stay that way when the rain is relentless and unforgiving.  But, Olivia was soaked to the bone in her clothing.  And all I wanted to do was make sure she at least got a fresh change of clothes on.  If nothing else, to make me feel better.  Let's put aside the wet feeling and uncomfortable "ness" of being inside of wet clothes.  And despite her wanting to appear tough in front of all of her cousins, I felt it necessary to put on some dryer clothing.
But, that's when it started.
The "it" in the above sentence refers to the mixture of misspoken or misinterpreted things said by either me or people around me.  And days and days of it started to get rather annoying and very unpleasant.

Olivia eventually did go out to my car and eventually did put on dryer clothing, but it wasn't without argument from ~not just her~ but from others in the immediate ear shot of the whole mom-daughter battle of wills.
And when some of what got said mostly got put out of my mind (because let's face it, most of what comes out of my siblings mouths is either ignorance or plain stupidity) I did let some of the weeks goings on get under my skin.
I am not trying to be mean. Just stating facts about being a mom on a vacation ~a mom who is in at times unbearable pain~ but also being a single mom on a vacation (because poor John couldn't join us for this week of family fun) and having a teenager daughter to deal with.  Although I must say, that even though Olivia is definitely a teenager and she does give me lip from time to time, her behavior out shined her cousins rowdy and (at times) unbelievable actions.  Sure, girls mature faster than boys, but please, lets not make that the sole reason and only excuse for being rude and unthoughtful.
And it seems that whenever my whole family is together, that most of the other adults in the vicinity turn into the sole guardians of the two eldest cousins of Olivia's. When it comes to parenting the two boys, I have no doubt that my brother loves his kids, but is also totally blind to their behavior towards others.
I am not saying that he is a bad father. Nope, not at all. I know he would die for his kids.  But he takes advantage of those who are around in his assumptions that we don't mind disciplining and watching after his children~ without a thanks or any gratitude at all.  And I think that's what bothers me most of all.
John and I took (and still do) take great care in the raising of our only child, and we both know we aren't perfect.  But we are definitely trying to be as present and as involved in her life as we can.  No matter who is around to help us out.
So, as far as hanging with my whole family is concerned, I am going to take a nice long big break from it.
It's the little things that count ~at least to me.
And when I need to repeat the same sentence five times because I am being ignored or when I am just forgotten about all together (with the exception of one or two) "Please, don't let me stop you from your fun. I am just trying to fix my broken back pack here. But hurry up, you may miss something vital if you don't bother to wait for everyone in your party"
I don't know. It seems to me that I wouldn't have even been missed had I stayed home with my husband. A decision that wasn't made lightly either.
My family has no idea the lengths my husband goes to when it comes to me.  What he does to make sure I am comfortable and in as little agony as possible.  I made the decision to be with my family, (people I do love, but who are entirely ignorant to my health needs and pain) and left the only person who really and genuinely cares for me. I left him behind to get talked down to, to get disrespected, to be belittled and to be unheard.
A mistake that I can promise you will not happen again.
It seems that the family I love and adore are the quickest to let me down.
And no, it wasn't constant let downs. And no, the entire trip wasn't horrible. In fact, I have some fond memories of this past week with the fab five and their spouse's and spawn.  And it wasn't everyone either that let me down.  Just a few here and there ~ just a few people that left me more opened eyed than before this trip happened.
Like I said, next time the entire family is getting together and John cannot make it, I will not be attending. John is the only one that keeps me sane and collected when there is so many people talking at once. He is the only one that truly cares for me ~when I say care, I mean cares for me in the way a disabled person needs care...
I thought I did a good job of making it without him though. Some of the time, I didn't even need my walking cane. But, pain killers in high enough doses will do that to someone.
So, let me end this with this;
I do not hate anybody in my family. Siblings and newbies alike. I have a deep and unfailing love for everyone. I just know that the extended time with them has left me with hurt feelings (and perhaps it's because I have always worn my heart on my sleeve) and has also left me with more questions than answers. Questions like, "If I decided to stay home, and not killed myself on this trip, would I have even been missed???"
"Can I really count on everyone in my family when and if it really counted??"

Oh well.
I suppose every family has this problem. Someone who feels left out and perhaps unheard. I just never thought that someone would be me....