Apparently I am back, but lazy.
I have never been someone who thinks that family relationships are the most important ones in my life. A few things have contributed to this: we didn’t have a lot of family nearby, growing up, so we never developed super close bonds with cousins/aunts/grand parents. My parents also never expected us to love them blindly. Sure I love them because they’re my parents, but I want to spend time with them because I respect who they are and they respect who I am. They contribute in positive, loving ways to the relationship I have with them. And they care enough to take an interest in my life. Also, they love Mr. Ponce … possibly more than they love me!
For the past 27 years I’ve lived at least six hours away from my dad. For the past 15 year’s I’ve lived at least three hours away from my sister. And for the past four year’s at least three hours away from my mom. I’ve had a lot of time to develop friendships. A lot of Mr. Ponce and my’s (is that grammatically correct?) friends are defacto family-members. Our commitment to them is equal to our commitment to even our closest family-members. So … we get busy. We get very busy. Summer is even busier than the rest of our year. With our northern climate, this means that we get about 10 weekends of summer weather … once you factor in rain … we’re lucky to get more than 10 days of work-less summer weather. We like to take advantage of those days.
My husband also grew up without a lot of family nearby (his parents immigrated here from Scotland before any of the kids were born). But with four kids, and three-times weekly (!!!) church commitments, his parents had a lot on their plate. Their social natures also did not make for much of a desire to build relationships beyond their immediate family circle. As a result they believe that family comes first, no matter what. To them, not calling once during our recent hell, does not make them any less of a priority in our lives than returning the favour to all the friends who rallied to cook for us, babysit for us, lend us vehicles so that we could make multiple appointments with lawyers and grief psychologists, pick our son up from daycare when those appointments ran late etc. etc. While we’re not actually bitter about their lack of support, we’re also becoming less and less willing to turn our lives upside down and reschedule plans to make it to family get togethers. We love seeing everyone, but if we have other plans, we don’t cancel them to make it to yet another birthday dinner (there are many).
Where am I going with this … I’m not sure. I am just angst-ee. And thought that maybe letting some of this go by typing it out might stop the hamster-wheel like obsession over the insanity of it from turning constantly in my head …
Where things get tricky is that my husband went away from school and chose to live away from the town he grew up in. The rest of the siblings never ventured very far from home. Their main social circles are still their immediate family. And there is a big difference to them as to what relationships matter. They demand that their traditions be followed and turn into bullies when we don’t comply. Mr. Ponce’s brother recently cancelled a get together with us (where we were hosting a second b-day party for their daughter b/c we couldn’t make it to her actual party) b/c he “had a bad taste” in his mouth. Apparently we “don’t seem to care” about his kids. And as they are the world to him (yes, they should be they are HIS kids) we logically do not care about him either.
This is a the culminating stupidness of about three years of Mr. Ponce’s sibblings trying to bully us into their way or the highway. I am mad. I am mad b/c this is crazy. All of Mr. Ponce’s sibblings have kids. The oldest is 13. For 13 years, we have been to every single family member’s birthday. We have missed two parties. Both in the past year. Unfortunately, for the same family member. Last year we had a wedding to go to. This year, the party was over father’s day weekend, and we had plans to attend a music festival. Their parety dates were not reschedulable (where’s my dictionary?) so we made plans to see the birthday girl at another date. We felt this was reasonable and didn’t think it would cause a family rift. But yes it has. And all sibblings and parents are involved. We have received nasty emails at worst and cautions to “try harder” at best.
I’m trying to figure out why all this is bothering me so much. As I mentioned this is CRAZY. It’s illogical. I’m a logical person, so the fact that this is so ridiculous upsets me to the very core and essence of who I am. I am also furious that Mr. Ponce’s brother and sister-in-law would let their nutty emotions interfere with our relationships with their children. Their “punishment” of us, effectively punishes their children by denying them an opportunity to spend time with us. But I think the bigger problem is that I see this with a global/future perspective as an adoptive mom.
I think a lot about what “family” will mean to Ponce. To us it’s obvious that he needs to see that “blood” is not the only thing that makes family. That people who love and support you can also be family. And they can matter as much to you, or more than blood-relatives. We don’t want to be telling him one thing, but living another. Our definition of family has to be well open and ever-changing.
We are also pretty busy trying to forge bonds with Ponce’s bio family. We have in effect added another family to our rotation of commitments. AND this relationship being in its initial stages, we are busy tending to it and growing it. Deepening roots so that the relationship can one day stand on its own.
The room in our lives for nonsense and demands and narrow-thinking people is getting narrower. Despite me hating how Mr. Ponce’s family is acting these days, I also don’t want to grow so distant from them that Ponce doesn’t get to grow up close to his cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. What if he NEEDS those bonds and that stability more than I ever did? What if that kind of consistency in his life is what helps him feel grounded, accepted, and helps move him through whatever adoption-related angst he may feel as he grows into himself. What if having close relationships with all these family members help him feel better about biological parents who may or may not disapoint him (or adoptive parents who may or may not disapoint him!).
At this point so much of our energy is focused on trying to build strong bonds with Ponce’s first family that I am extra-aggravated by the nonsense coming out of Mr. Ponce’s family. Seriously … do they think we need this right now? I’d be more forgiving if this was coming from Ponce’s first family … but don’t tell Mr. Ponce’s family or we’d be relegated to the dog-house for eternity.
I feel petty and small for posting this. This is trivial in the grand scheme of life and family squabbles. I know I should be able to let go of this. It keeps me awake. It interrupts my work. I want to find a way to move past it … but I am also mad that this type of scenario keeps unfolding with Mr. Ponce’s family over and over again. I don’t think they will change, so I need to change how much their actions bother me. I would love to just write them off. But for Ponce’s sake, I can’t. For Mr. Ponce’s sake, I can’t. But how do I keep “being the bigger person” over and over and over again? It would be a lot easier to walk away. Mr. Ponce is pushing for a move that would put days of travel distance between us and his family … pre-Ponce I would have jumped at the plan … but post Ponce … stability and long term relationships seem more important …. we have so many good friends, and like them or not, Mr. Ponce’s family is … well, family.