Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Wouldn't Choose Them

What is it about family that makes us so crazy?  Every time I spend more than a day with either my family or my husband's family, I feel like I lost a fight with a steam roller.  I'm always left wondering: "Am I the only one?  Am I the only one who has a love/hate relationship with my family?"  Certainly there are people out there who love every minute they spend with family and never get irritated or frustrated, let alone spitting mad, and come away from the experience feeling refreshed and full of life.  Surely those people exist, but it is my belief that they are from a different planet.

Family members are forced together, either by birth or by marriage, and many times the people in our families are not the type of people we would normally choose to hang out with.  I know this is true for me.  I love my mom, but she can drive me to insanity faster than a bad day with my kids.  If we were strangers, the chances of us becoming friends would be slim to none.  (And slim just left town!)  Put simply, she's just not my type, I wouldn't choose her as a friend.  The same goes for my dad and my brother.  If I wasn't forced to share my life with them, I wouldn't even choose them as drinking buddies.  And then there's my husband's family.  That's a bag of crazy I would normally carve a wide path around.  After a week with them I look at my beloved and think, "How did he turn out so normal?"  Then I have to remind myself that to them he's probably not normal at all, and neither am I for that matter!

I think that's the whole point.  Stick a bunch of wildly different personalities together and force them to find a way to get along, and eventually learn to love each other.  If we were always surrounded by people we chose to be around, then we would never learn the invaluable skill of finding common ground with the one person who would normally reside in the "narcissistic asshole" part of our personal rolodex.  It might also make us a little more tolerant of those we actually choose to be a part of our family.  My husband can make me so mad I just want to kick him in the balls, but he can't make me see red the way his mother can.  Even when he's being incredibly insensitive, he never makes me feel as bad as my dad can.

Here's the weird part.  My mom may not be a friend I would have chosen on my own, but she's a great friend.  I can tell her anything.  My dad and my brother happen to be two of my favorite drinking buddies.  Although my dad can make me feel smaller than a gnat, he can also make me feel greater than an Olympic Gold Medalist.  In my book, my in-laws are crazier than the average crazy, but they are also some of the most wonderful people I've ever had the privilege of having to get along with, and I have learned to love them very much.  All of these people, these family members that have been forced into my life and drive me to insanity, have also enriched my life more than I usually give them credit for.  I'm grateful to have them all as a part of my family and a part of my life.  I'm grateful that they too have found a way to get along with me and love me for who I am, no matter how exasperating I get.  So, while I wouldn't have chosen them, I sure am glad they were chosen for me.

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