"That is the hardest thing of all. It is much harder to judge yourself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself, it's because you're truly a wise man." The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Most nights we just read to M Bug. He still likes that even though I know he can read just fine on his own. He needs help with the bigger words but I am quite certain he could figure it out if pressed. He likes the closeness and comfort of us being near. He likes story telling so that it is no surprise to me that we still read to him. The books are longer now. Novels, The Harry Potter series, are the current favorite but before that the Kingdom Keepers and The Tree house series. Lately after reading, he wants to snuggle and chat. I think it is his way of unwinding, of asking all the questions that crop up in his mind during a day but he gets so busy or the time is not right to ask them.
We were discussing a serious topic the other night. I asked him why he says he hates his sister all the time lately. I really wanted to know. Partly because it makes me feel like I am failing as a parent but partly because I needed to know how I can effect a change while I might have a chance to do that. I did not want to lecture him or tell him he should not say that because dude we have all felt this way, let’s be honest. I mean I know my siblings were not always super fond of me. In fact, I know I was the typical annoying little sister who made them crazy. We got to talking about how he feels about Missy. How she sometimes makes him crazy because she is always copying him and how she always bothers him in his room when he is trying to be good and quiet and how she can just be so… so… annoying.
As we were talking, the discussion turned to my sister and brother and what I assume I know they thought of me when I was young. I was almost ten years younger than my sister so that when I was six she was almost sixteen and my brother is a solid six years older. It is funny how time and space zaps your memory, changes things, softens the hard edges. I knew the questions would come, the ones about this mystery aunt and cousins he’s never met. This aunt who held him when he was only hours old and that was the last communication he’s ever had with her. There is an internal struggle that I often down play when it comes to my family. It is almost Shakespearean. To hurt or not to hurt, that is the question. I want so badly for my whole family to be warm and close and yet the pain is palpable for all of us when we are together I find it is not worth that any more. To break that cycle of pain, I feel like I am in this place now and since there is no other more poetic way to say it, this place can often suck.
M Bug asked me why I do not talk to my sister and what about my brother and why it that they are so far away and how do I tell my sweet baby boy to foster a positive loving relationship with his sister when I cannot do that with my own flesh and blood. So really what came up were not only the questions of am I doing the right thing right now but also how do I as a sibling, a sister to these two adult people who live very far away, to these two extremely foreign and very different people from me yet, show my son what it is to be a good sibling. I want so very much more for them then I had with my own. I do not want to jam a wedge between them like I feel my own mother did to us. I want a happy functional family versus the feeling of isolation and discontent I felt in the very midst of my own family of five. In that moment of talking to M Bug, I sat back for a singular moment and took in the world that has been created around me. The fact is that I cannot undo years of pain and anger and rage and upset nor do I want to try to explain that to my six year old son. It was almost too much for me to take and I stuffed it away because that is how I roll.
I did not come from a particularly horrific family. There are far worse families and situations to be in and by contrast my family was just the run of mill dysfunctional family unit with issues and anger and I suppose the worst of it was hatred and control and simply not enough skills in the parental unit’s toolboxes to be really effective when it came to the negative things.
I used to rage in my head and often times out of my head about my family. Coming full circle, I just do not want to any more. Sometimes my mother raises my ire and my father certainly threw me for a loop last summer. I think if I let them, no more aptly if go back to being in the same place as I was when I was six, it sucks. When I was six I felt I had no control, no say, I was nothing and nobody to them, just a pesky little kid who arrived much to late on the scene to really matter, the big family “oops”.
Living far away gives me the distance to see that while that might have true then it is not true now. I try with all my might to just simply say my sister, A, and I are very different. And we are. Yet we are so similar. But different. I would love to have a great relationship with her and P. I would with all my heart but it is like my mother and father. Every time I let it happen, it crushes me to bits and pieces and after the fact I spend so much time picking up my heart and soul from where they were left trampled that I miss out on my life, I lose myself in them versus enjoy what I have…
I murmured to M Bug that I love them and I do, that is not a lie or some made up half truth because with all of my heart, the very fabric of my being, I do love them but we are different people. I whispered softly to him that we did not have a good chance at having a great relationship, a good start so it has made it hard in life to stay close which is why I want to even talk with him about this, why I want him to try harder with his sister because she will not always be the way she is right now. She will grow up and soon she will be six like he is now (to which he added I will be almost ten, right?) and nine and 12 and he will always be the older brother but they will learn to see eye to eye, one day. I said that I want him to know he can always talk with me like this about her or anyone and I will listen without judgment because I was an annoying little sister once but I want better for them.
"One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry