Whew! It is over! I am dancing on the inside as a result of that. In some respects, actually a number of respects, this was a good holiday. The best part was that my wife was calm and happy, and if not happy, at least calm! (grin) Our respective families bring out the worst in us. Her sis arrived on Wednesday with her overnight bag in hand and her emotional baggage packed as well. She is not a happy person and strives for happiness by being sarcastic and unkind to others. How many other people are sarcastic when their 4 y/o nephew asks to play Candyland. It amazes me that she has no idea what a gift the love and adoration of a child is. That she doesn't get that there will be times when he could care less that Auntie has arrived. I know she has no children of her own, but still is seems so obvious to me.
Thanksgiving day was punctuated with the excitement of a power failure right as the turkey was going into the oven. Now most of us (me and the 4 kiddos) are vegetarian so the plight of tom turkey was not too big a deal to us. But I knew it would be huge to the rest of the family. We called the electric company and the power could be off they said till after 11 a.m. This would not give a reasonable time to cook the bird so Kirsty and i began making alternative plans. We could still use the gas burners on the top of the stove, so we planned out a nice though unusual Thanksgiving menu. However the goddess was smiling upon us. We got power back in less than 45 minutes though the store 3 houses up from us didn't get it back till 11. So the turkey and all the sides cooked without a hitch and dinner was only about 30 minutes late.
Our gathering on the day was really nice, though it was exhausting. Not just from hosting, cooking and cleaning, but emotionally. Why do families have to bite at one another? It mystifies me and left me in the position of feeling the need to turn conversations to other avenues several times.
The next day my mother was arriving for a visit. My sister called me and asked if she could stop by too so that she could see Mum. OK I should be bigger than this but I was hurt. I was hurt because I invited her to a long planned summer party this summer and she said she would come and then blew us off to go and visit her father. I invited her twice to come to our house on Thanksgiving. She declined and chose to spend the day with her ex. OK fine. Or I try to say fine. But it bothers me that she can't come visit us and really was only there because she wanted to see my mother. So I am left with feeling petty and smallminded and trying to rise above that.
We prepared the house as best we could for Mum's visit. There is stress to her visits. I love her and i love to have her be with the kids here because it is their home and they are able to play and interact in a much more easy going environment than when we travel to her home. Which we do monthly, and the kids are really really good about trying contain their natural exuberance while at Nana's tiny little apartment. But back to the stress. Being as I am the fourth generation to live her, Mum can't visit without finding something wrong with the way we keep the house. Once it was the pellets we store on the front porch. Another the number of strollers we keep in our front hall. I was told our house was so cold she would freeze. (uh huh Mum, may I refer you back to the pellets on the front porch???) My children are critiqued; thankfully not to their faces but to me. My kids are really by and large good kids. But they are kids. They are not good kids all the time. And our house is far from quiet. I try as i know my wife does, to make sure things are welcoming for her. Food is abundent and home made, tea waits for her when she arrives--I know in Maine she hasn't any one to "do" for her and to be pampered a bit must feel good. Her bedroom is fixed and pretty, her grandkids can't wait to share themselves with her. So I visit and smile and wait for the shoe to drop. Because I know it will. It always does. And sure enough true to form, it did. Last night while I cleaned the kitchen after supper and she sat sipping tea and dessert she asked me why the siding hadn't held up better on the house and why there was such unsightly black streaks on the front of the house. I wanted to flatten her. Really, I did. I told her it was from the traffic and that we wash the house and it comes back. You would have thought that would end it. But no, this is my mother. She asks my wife the same damn question this morning. Now I really wanted to flatten her. I feel like she never sees the beauty of our family, the love that we share and have for her and instead is so busy looking to see the family homestead is kept the way she feels it should be. Appearances and all that. It is so shallow and so sad.
Then last evening rather late at night Mum's cell phone rang. Her husband had fallen at the long term care facility and been taken to the hospital for a CAT scan. He was now back at the care facility and his granddaughter was settling him in. He was okay but I know Mum felt guilty being here with something happening there. And I felt so badly for her. We have planned this time together for months and now it was going to be shortened.
And yet a small and guilty feeling part of me is quietly relieved. I don't have to listen to any more veiled comments for a while. I don't have to worry when my kids race through the house playing knights. I can just be. They can just be. And it is good.