Fonticulus Fides

Friday, June 27, 2003

Well, we're gearing up for a weekend visit from my parents.

I think I've mentioned before that I don't come from a very close family. We all live in different states now. My eldest sister actually lives in another country if she can (her husband is in the military). I talk to my siblings each about twice a year -- I call them on their birthdays, and they call me on mine. Or at least try to. Sometimes we only speak with answering machines.

I see my parents typcially once a year. It used to be twice, but travelling 9 hours by car with small children isn't exactly fun. If you travel while they're sleeping, then you're left bleary-eyed and exhausted and trying to keep track of them while they run amuck after being strapped into unyielding car seats for so long. If you travel while they are awake, you have to stop more frequently and they are so easily bored. I know a lot of people get those nifty dvd players to install in their cars, but I've got a little girl facing backwards still, and a boy who really needs to be physical, so that sort of thing wouldn't work for long.

I wish my relationships with my biological family members were better. Healthier maybe. In all honesty, it's just easier not to talk to them because conversations take so much effort. There are all these unwritten rules about what you can say, when you can say it, how you should deliver it, blah, blah, blah. I never feel like I can be myself with my family, and that's a real shame.

I'm sure they all feel the same way about me, too. Some of them think I'm pretty heartless, because the things that devastate them don't bother me at all. And I've been the "wacky religious" member of the family for quite some time now. I didn't bother to inform any of them about our conversion to Catholicism at Easter, because I was pretty sure none of them would really care. Every one of them has a different approach to religion. My mom was raised Catholic and my dad converted in order to marry her, but they don't practice, not even a little. Well, they do participate in Mass when it's somebody's funeral or something like that. Otherwise, they have their own ideas about God and Jesus and reincarnation and all that, and they're quite comfortable with them.

When I was a brand-new born-again Christian, I shared a lot of what was going on in my life at the time with my parents via telephone. I didn't necessarily try to convert them -- I was just so excited and enthusiastic, it was all I could talk about. My dad finally got ticked off enough to tell me I could never talk to them about religious things again.

It's lightened up in the last 14-15 years or so. Sometimes on the phone, my mom will offer to pray for me about something I may be concerned about, like whether or not I'll get a good deal on some kid's clothing. I always feel awkward at these requests -- it's not that I think Mom will "pray wrong" or pray to somebody other than God or that her prayers aren't valid. It's just that religion is so NOT a part of our relationship, that it feels strange to join her in prayer. And somehow, I think that shouldn't be.

Another factor that makes visiting with my parents difficult is that they don't really like my husband all that much, and he doesn't really like them. They all got off on a wrong foot. I tried to bring my husband home to meet them for Christmas, shortly after we started dating & knew we were going to get married. My mother balked and said I couldn't bring "strangers" home for the holidays. My husband-to-be said, fine, he would take me to meet his family instead. And that's pretty much been the whole of their relationship. My parents clearly don't want to get to know my husband, and my husband would rather spend time with just about anybody else. I can't blame him for that -- I feel the same way. Isn't that awful?

It's not that I don't love my family. If any of them needed a kidney, I'd offer mine up gladly. If I had money to spare and one of them was destitute, I'd give every dime I could. But it's not the cuddly, good-to-see-you kind of love. And I'm like 99% sure that they all feel exactly the same way. It's just how we are.

I often worry about this lack of relationship with my family, though I can't think of any reason why I should fret over it when the situation really is mutual. I guess I haven't seen any Scriptural or Church teaching that tells me I have to be emotionally attached to my biological relatives. Just seems sort of strange that I'm not.

Anyway, I'll be away for a few days while my folks are in town. See you soon!



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