Monday, September 24, 2018

The Flowery Journal My Sister Gave Me (Part 22)

I was skimming through the rest of the journal and saw that I filled in (and dated) some things AFTER 1996.  My guess is I filled in a lot of the book when I first received it; then waited to fill in more, because the book was asking about later-life events.

SO...on this page, I think I wrote part of it in 1996...or maybe 1997. Then I later added more stuff in November 1999.



Moving to New York was very scary for me. It was horrifying to think that I wouldn't be going home for the summer anymore. My visits home now would always be short.

This took awhile to get used to..

Now I am very used to living away from home. I think officially moving in with Tim helped a lot. Having my own apartment made me feel lonely. Tim visited often, but it wasn't the same.

Now with Tim and Mooshu, I feel like I have a real family. I miss my other family, but I am satisfied with visiting them. I don't have a need to live with them.

At some point we changed the spelling of Mooshu to Mushu.

He was actually named after the Chinese food and not the dragon from Mulan.

How do you spell the food?

Well, I just Googled and am finding it spelled both ways.

It makes sense, since the real way you spell it is with Chinese letters.

We probably spelled it whatever way we saw it most often in NYC.

As for the rest of what I wrote, I think it's generally the fear that goes along with change and growing up.

November 1999-Now Tim and I are planning to move back to Texas. I want my children to have their grandparents nearby, and I want to be near my family. I think I'm also doing this for Tim, or more precisely, Tim and I are doing this for him. (Some stuff needed to be edited out here).

Basically...This wasn't a case of a person being dragged along to live among their in-laws. I think from very early on, Tim became very close to my parents, sisters, my sister's husband; then later my other sister's husband and all his nieces and nephews.

He is as close to them as I am...sometimes often even closer.

And he is as close to my family as he is to his own.

My parents would probably be so delighted to see what I said about wanting my kids to be near their grandparents.

In some ways, I'm glad we made that choice.

I think it IS special that Jack has his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins nearby.

I'm realizing, though, that I'm weird about it.

I'm actually very white about it.

I have a hard time accepting this culture in which see extended family so often. I'm perplexed when we're invited to birthday parties of older kids and teens. I can understand when kids are very young. But I never had my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents at MY birthday parties.

I thought it was odd that we were practically required to go to my niece's middle school graduation.  I never went to any graduation of any of my cousins.

BUT I'm trying to open my mind about this.

I think a lot of cultures have close extended families. Children aren't raised by their parents alone but also their aunts, uncles, older cousins, grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, etc.

Why do I have trouble accepting and dealing with this?

I think part of the problem is feeling suffocated. I think that's partly in my own head. But sometimes it IS more than that. Sometimes it's about getting invitations a little too often, and knowing it's often not seen as okay to say no. There will likely be bitching behind our backs or a passive-aggressive silent treatment.

I said a polite no recently to a last minute invitation.  There was no, That's okay! We'll get together another time. Or, I understand, but we'll miss you!  My no was met with silence. And it might have been my imagination, but the family member acted a bit distant from me a week or so after that.

It's also the grief I received when I wanted to move to Australia, as if it's not a nice bonus that we all live in the same metroplex but a crime against humanity to want to do otherwise.

The other problem-Or cause, really-of these feelings is the fact that I grew up so differently.  Our nuclear family began in Chicago which had my mom's parents, my dad's parents, his siblings, and our cousins.

But we left when I was a toddler.

We saw most of the Chicago people on a yearly basis, but they felt like relatives...NOT day to day family. We didn't attend birthday parties. We didn't attend graduations. We didn't meet their friends. We knew very little about their day to day life, and they knew little about ours.

Was my childhood way the right way?

No probably not.

If anything...

I think it IS better when family is defined not just as parents/children/siblings...but the whole large package.

That's not to say anyone should feel obligated or required to stay in the same city, town, neighborhood, house, etc. But if this does happen....

Well, I need to stop seeing it as being abnormal.

Because it is definitely NOT abnormal.

As for feeling suffocated, I think by losing this misguided idea of what's normal and not normal, SOME of these feelings will be alleviated.

Instead of thinking things like, It's really odd that we're expected to go to this, I might instead think, this is really awesome that we all live here and that we have an opportunity to go to this!

And then I need to make my own boundaries.

I need to say yes when I want to go to something OR when I feel reciprocal support is owed (which at this point, it is very much NOT owed)

I need to say no when it gets to be too much. And for me it does sometimes get to be too much.

If someone has a problem with my no, I need to make it stay THEIR problem. I shouldn't make it my own. If they want to complain about me behind my back or give me some kind of silent treatment, so be it.

So...in conclusion.  I think it's usually a blessing for a family to stay together rather than separate once the children are grown up, married, and have kids of their own. But it's okay-and sometimes necessary-for there to be boundaries.