A few months back, my family nearly fell apart. Here’s how it all went down from my mom’s perspective. In this post, the prodigal daughter returns from San Francisco.
Note: last week, my dad took over my blog with poems. This week, my mom takes over my blog with an in-depth discussion of how our family imploded and came back together. These are some of the toughest posts I’ve ever published. Except for minor stylistic changes, these are unedited. Love you mom, dad, and sis. P.S. I’m moving out March 1st…cause I’m all growned up now!
Prologue to Living Together as a Family
Our new relationship with Josh was cautious. Everyone was trying really really hard. Lots of perky chirrupy conversations. I dutifully phone Josh every 2nd day as he’d requested but it doesn’t take long for a slight problem to develop.
ME: (On about the 3rd call) So…uhhh…how’s that…uh…broken bicycle light? Ohhh, you replaced it, that is so-o-o great!!! Wow! Wow. Yeah…o-kay.
JOSH: Yeah! Yeah…well, bye.
We spoke ‘honestly’ and decided phone calls didn’t need to be quite that frequent.
In the meantime, I’m nattering on and on to Kent about how wonderful things are. He’s saying, wait. Let’s see. And I realized I’m not totally convinced either. There’s too much back story.
I have two underlying mantras:
- The past is not the past until it’s dealt with.
- Do sweat the small stuff.
Even after our talks, there was waaaay too much in the past that hadn’t been dealt with; some of it was small but small stuff can become a big ol’ painful canker. Lots of work to do.
Sabrina was due back from San Francisco. It’d been agreed that she’d live with us ‘til she gets herself settled back in Toronto. We love our girl and were thrilled to have her back. ‘Til she got a place of her own, anyway.
Then, out of the blue, Josh approached us with the exciting news that he and his sister have decided that we all should live together. In our house. The one Kent and I have had to ourselves for many years. And we should be a family and have regular meals together and get back to being a family; and that the two of them have worked the whole thing out.
So we said, hey! That is so-o-o-o great. What a great idea! I mean really, that is…really…great…yeah. Two adults and their adult children living together.
What could go wrong?
Sabrina has arrived home. Yaaaay! Welcome to Canada! We met her at the train station dressed in red and white, me wearing a fabulous sparkly tiara adorned with plastic Canadian flags. Josh surprises me by totally going along with the silliness. Sabrina fell down laughing and insisted on wearing the tiara for the rest of the day. People in the train station – Torontonians every one – carefully avoided looking at us.
Sabrina admitted she’d been terribly conflicted about leaving San Francisco. But her decision to return home was mostly because she missed her family. My heart swelled.
But when she got home, she hit the ground running and my reading, which, to be fair, she said was a total misreading, was that she hadn’t given herself time to absorb this wrench. She’s very connected with her own feelings so I took her word for it. But still. For the first few weeks she was kinda of, y’know, lumpy. Quick to become irritated with her doting mama and papa (especially the mama one). As with Josh previously, I began to monitor what I said to her, not wanting to offend. We’d always had a warm relationship, able to really talk to each other. I missed her warmth, generous spirit and deep, deep understanding.
Then, because I am incredibly perceptive to the point of genius, I figured out that she – wait for it – needed time! (Sometimes I astonish myself with my own razor sharp perception.)
A couple of weeks later, Josh moved in.
It was smooth going almost from the get-go. Rather than feeling cramped and uncomfortable by their presence, as I’d feared, I actually missed them when they were not around. Which, with their jobs, social life and other interests, was a lot.
FamDin again, Josh’s turn to be chef, co-starring Sabrina as sous-chef. He’s decided to keep it simple. So here’s the menu for family dinner this particular Monday:
- Duck done 3 ways:
- Soup, a clear broth with diced veggies and chunks o’duck
- Slow fricasseed wings/legs
- Roasted pieces of breast
- There was home-made polenta baked, cooled, then covered in cornmeal and sautéed
- Fingerling potatoes sautéed in duck fat
- Asparagus spears
- Fresh blackberry reduction
- Dessert was individual apple pies with a brown sugar and butter caramel sauce drizzled through the apples and a home-made pastry, latticed on top.
Can’t say much more. Am in an altered state.
Yeah, yeah I know, you’re saying, like is that all??
There was much praise for our Joshie, lots of fun chatter (meaning I missed watching Jeopardy again but sacrifice is what I do for my children.) And this time we carefully avoided talking about emotional topics.
But there is a small cloud of trouble in paradise. Sabrina’s in a bad way because three of her dear friends – coincidentally all at the same time – have had truly dreadful things happen to them and Sabrina, because that’s who she cannot help being, feels she must be there and do something for them. She’s taken a couple of days off work to deal with her despair. Her boss offers a depth of understanding and sympathy. At dinner, big brother Josh, who loves his sister fiercely, gently, with much concern points out that she can’t take the weight of the world on her shoulders.
More little signs of fraying. Josh’s job requires that he work at home. He, like his sister, is also involved in many other activities including spending lots of time with his lovely girlfriend. But when he’s home, he goes to his room. Except for family dins, he eats all his meals inside his room and keeps the door shut. He almost never spends time with us downstairs.
Which is okay but for me it can’t help but conjure up that long, awful period of time when he didn’t communicate with us and things were so awful. I am amazed how easily I’m thrown back into my previous fears of losing him.
Am I wrong? Or am I just looking for something to go wrong?
Image courtesy of Sabrina Bowman.
In Part Four, some of the day to day struggles. Tomorrow…