I only ask because I had a rather interesting — and somewhat disheartening — experience while my mom was in Europe last month, and, well, it’s made me think about a lot of things ever since. Things like family and togetherness and other people’s opinions on said togetherness. Needless to say, I learned A LOT about these things while my mom was 4,300 miles away!
On the day she left, I posted a status on Facebook about how much I was going to miss her and how I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do for an entire week with her gone. It was a genuine expression of exactly how I was feeling at the time — sad, afraid, confused, like a part of me had come undone.
Friends and family commented with things like, “Oh, you should be happy for her!” and “It’s so important for you and your mom to have separate lives…” Now, I’m sure everyone had the best of intentions with these comments, but, honestly, they all just sort of rubbed me the wrong way.
This is what I heard…
–Don’t be selfish
–There is no reason you should feel that way
Throughout that next week, it started to really sink in: The three of us have worked hard to get to where we are. It wasn’t always easy and at times, things certainly got ugly. There were dark days, days when I wasn’t sure if we’d ever see the light again. Sometimes it felt like we were clawing our way out of the bottomless pit we all fell into after my dad’s death.
We’re not like other families and that’s OK. It’s something I’ve stopped apologizing for. There is no such thing as a normal family and it’s time we stop reinforcing the idea that there is. Because the beauty of family lies in its uniqueness — that’s what makes it special.
It’s not that I wasn’t happy for my mom — of course I was!!! I can be happy for her and still acknowledge that the experience was hard for me. Plus, I think some of it highlighted my disability for me, which I don’t usually even notice, and brought up some issues on that front.
It was enough to make me wonder: When did it become such a bad thing to be close to your family? And why are we sometimes so quick to say that it is a bad thing? My family knows me. They’re the only other people on this planet who have walked this journey with me, through the good times and bad, through the highs and the lows. That’s something I’m going to celebrate instead of feel guilty about.
In the end, it was my mom, naturally, who swooped in with some salient and comforting words just in time!
“There are a myriad of issues affecting our family. It’s all OK. Your feelings are your feelings…we have all come so far since Brian died. I think we are doing great!!! I’m proud of you and of Janelle, and frankly, of myself for how we are all doing.”
She also quoted Frasier, which made me laugh: “‘We’re an odd little family, aren’t we?’ Lol. We are just like the Cranes!”
Are you close to your family, friends? What do they mean to you? How has your relationships changed over the years? I hope you’re able to spend some quality time with them today — be sure to give them a BIG hug for me!! xoxo
[Top photo via We Heart It]