Monday, August 16, 2010

Spending Time With Other Families

Last night I dreamed about our Hawaii friends...again. I dream about them a lot. I think my subconscious is obsessed with them.

Anyway, in the dream we all went to Disney World. We (Tim, Jack, and I) kept eating in the room, and our friends kept going off to eat in fancy restaurants. We didn't know whether they didn't like our meal choices, so were simply choosing something alternative....OR if they were avoiding us.

I know why I dreamed it. Well, I don't know why I dreamed my Hawaii friends were not spending time with us. They're not like that. But I do know why I dreamed about going with another family to Disney World.

I've been reading my old (now private) LiveJournal entries on a daily basis; and this week I've gotten to the part where I took Jack to Disney World with my two sisters, my nieces, and my mom. My mom and younger sister shared a room while I shared a two bedroom apartment with my sister, her two daughters, and Jack. I had remembered the trip as being pretty awful, but the journal entries have reminded me about terrible it was for me. I actually thought reading old journal entries would show me that things in the past weren't as bad as I remembered. But actually, the opposite has been happening.

The problems started pretty much immediately on the trip...mostly because I'm the type of person who needs my space. My sister is the type of person who likes to have almost constant companionship. We are NOT a good traveling match. I mentioned to my sister, that if Jack woke up early, I'd probably take him to the parks, and meet her, my mom, and my other sister later. It's hard to wait around in a hotel room, especially with a young child. It's usually much easier to take them out...go somewhere, do something.

My sister was furious about this, and reminded me that she had two children, and couldn't handle them on her own. She couldn't take a shower without another adult watching. This was fair. She did have a toddler, and it could be dangerous to leave that child alone while in the shower. I suggested she take a shower at night while me, my sister, and my mom were all there to help babysit. She didn't like that idea, so I bargained with her. I would stay while she took a shower, so she didn't have to worry about that. THEN Jack and I would leave.

This didn't make her happy, and I wanted to avoid her wrath....so I stayed and watched the three kids while she got ready. We woke up the next morning at 8:00. We didn't leave for the parks until 11:30.

Well, okay. Honestly. I did abandon my sister and her kids at one point. I needed to go buy a toothbrush. I considered leaving Jack with her for a few minutes since I had already done a lot of playing with and watching of her two kids. Leaving Jack there would have made things more even and fair. But I figured since she found it so hard to watch two kids, she wouldn't be happy watching an extra. So I decided it would be best to just take him with me. Jack and I left for a few minutes to hop down to the store and get a toothbrush. Later, my sister complained about this. You left me! This was supposed to be a FAMILY vacation, and you left me!
I responded by asking her whether next time we needed to take all seven of us down to buy a toothbrush.

All this eventually escalated into a huge fight. I think it was resolved with the decision that I didn't need to spend every waking moment with my sister and her kids. My mom and other sister took over. They spent the whole week helping my sister....in the parks, and at the pool. While in the apartment, I helped take care of the three kids. It was kind of sad for me and Jack because originally the trip was supposed to be my mom with just the two of us. But for some reason, it ended up that my two nieces needed three adults taking care of them. Why? I don't really know. But Jack really didn't get much bonding time with his Mimi.

I later got grief from my mom about not following the rest of them more. I am selfish that way. I'd rather go my own way then follow someone constantly. To my defense though, Disney World with Jack wasn't easy at the time. He was terrified of ALL rides and all characters. So while the rest of the family went on rides, I'd take Jack to a playground or to one of those fun toddler water things. Then sometimes it was hard to find each other again. My mom reminded me that it would be easier and better if I just WAITED for them while they did their thing.

I reminded her about the time Jack was crying and terrified of the character meal. I had to take him out. Not one of the other adults offered to skip the meal and come with us. I understand that it would have been wrong for ALL of them to leave. One of my nieces loves that stuff, and it would be cruel to force her forgo the event. But my other niece didn't like it, so one or two adults could have taken her away, and joined me and Jack. Then the leftover adult could have stayed with the character-loving niece.

Anyway, I mentioned this to my mom, and she quieted down about me needing to join in and cooperate more.

With some people, it's not just a matter of follow-me-all-the-time-and-never-leave-me-alone, but also a matter of them wanting you to do whatever THEY want to do. You should be there ALWAYS for them, but they don't need to be there for you.

That story is one side of the coin.

Later, I got another side.

Our moved-away Fort Worth friends wanted to come back for a visit during Thanksgiving. We gave them the okay. It wasn't the first time one or all of them had stayed at our house. They often used us as a free hotel. Frankly, I was getting kind of sick of being used that way. But Tim believed and insisted that this time they were coming to see US. This was a visit, not just a free stay.

Now these people had a lot of friends in Fort Worth. I completely expected them to want to spend time with people besides us. And of course, me being me....I needed that. I couldn't stand to be with people constantly. I need my space.

Well, these particular "friends" gave us way too much space. They DID spend the first night with us....ate dinner. I give them credit for that. Tim cooked them a nice meal. He's awesome that way. And I think he cooked them another meal the next day...or the day after. You'd think since these people were guests at our home, they'd be polite/kind enough to repay the favor....take us out to dinner, or cook for us. Nope.

Despite staying with us for Thanksgiving, they didn't have Thanksgiving with us. They went off and ate with relatives. Uh...then why didn't they just sleep at the house of the relatives for the week?

Good question!

For most of the week, we didn't see them. They would rush off in the morning before we woke up. They didn't leave a note about where they were going, or when they'd get back. Then they'd get back at night....just before their baby's bedtime. They'd close themselves into their room and work to get their baby to sleep. Then we'd often be left in charge of watching their preschooler.

We felt VERY used. I understand wanting to go out and see other friends. But would it have hurt for them to spend the mornings with us? Or how about coming back for dinner?

A few weeks ago, some people, we were spending time with, asked if they could go to Disney World with us. It sounded pretty awesome, and we pretty much said yes. But I did warn them that I need space. We made sure to ask whether or not they were the types of people who had to go EVERYWHERE with the other family. They (or at least one of them) assured me that they were not the suffocating type. But I think I also added that we need/want to spend SOME time together. I don't want to go to Disney World with another family, and then never see them. But I also don't want to have to feel that we have to follow the other family around like obedient puppies.

Like the Goldilocks story, I have two extremes of badness, and then one story that's just right. Or one family.

That's the Hawaii family. We've done three trips with them, and they've all been very pleasant. Well, the first was in their home in Tasmania, so it wasn't a holiday for them. But it was one for us. To be honest, in Tasmania we did spend almost every waking minute together. That's because we had only three days together, and we didn't have our own car. It's not like Tim, Jack, and I could rush off and go do something on our own. Plus, since we had only three days together, we didn't really want to separate much. We wanted to be with our friends. If we had been there for longer, we would have probably rented our own car and ventured off a bit. We did though spend time apart within their house. None of us felt an obligation to sit together every moment of the day.

It was NICE.

We later spent a weekend together in Sydney. We spent about 80% of our time together. We slept in different buildings, so that made it harder to spend more time together. And we also had times where we wanted to do different things. We felt it was best to just split up for awhile.

In Hawaii, we spent a lot of time together. There was lots of happy bonding happening there. We had to share a car, so there was more cooperating than splitting up to do our own things. But there WERE times that we split up. Some people went on walks or shopped while other stayed back. Inside the house, we'd go off in our own little areas to watch TV or surf the Internet.

When we got home, I strongly missed my friends, and sometimes I regretted those times apart. Why didn't I go to Walmart with them? I missed that opportunity for us to be together! Why did I spend time looking at those websites? I could have done it at home. I should have spent every waking moment with these precious friends! We shouldn't have had a minute apart!
But truth be told....if we didn't have those moments apart, those friends would probably be much less precious to me.

I don't know why I had those dreams last night, or why I'm writing all this down.

Maybe it's just to vent.

Maybe it's a warning to others.

Maybe it's a reminder to myself to be careful about what families I travel with...or to at least lay out expectations before we do multiple-family traveling.

Maybe it's a reminder to myself to be thankful for my Hawaii friends, and to wish/hope that we travel again together.