I should not be allowed out of the house without adult supervision. And perhaps a leash.
Back from the Brink

Ties that bind.

I get asked all the time about what I won't blog about. Is there anything I keep to myself? Anything I purposely avoid?  It's easy to assume there isn't, since I'm pretty open and transparent about a lot of things here.

But I do have one ready answer to that question: I don't blog about my family. Yes, I've written the occasional entry here and there. My parents' health, usually, and I think I've made some vague references to our general fucked-up-ness, and while it's tempting to mine that fucked-up-ness for Sedaris-family comedy gold, I don't.

My family is the one situation I have a hard time finding the humor in. I used to jokingly describe us as "the Brady Bunch, except that everybody hates each other."

I don't make that joke anymore.

And I don't blog about my family. Which means today is tough, since I've been home in Pennsylvania with family since last Tuesday.

Sigh.

We're a family that repeats the mistakes of previous generations -- the very mistakes we always swore we would never make. We hold grudges for years. We forgive but we do not forget. We expect too much and give too little.

We're a family that avoids confrontation at any cost. We're a family where people grab their car keys and storm out the door when things get ugly.

We point fingers with one hand and hold full glasses of wine in the other.

We take sides. We manipulate and guilt trip. We gossip. And we finally explode and yell and cry. The floodgates open and decades of hurts and slights come spilling out, and every delusion and pretension about who I am and where I come from are crushed under the weight of my family's daytime-talkshow-like baggage.

Then we all sing Happy Birthday and eat cupcakes and pretend none of it ever happened.

We're a family with certain members who, after realizing that family is really all we've got in this world, have opted to go it alone instead.

We're divorce at its worst.  At its most painful and scarring.  We're alcoholism and obesity and abuse and co-dependence and cancer and mental illness.

We're also Christmas mornings and homemade stockings and laughter and old movies and pulling together in a crisis. We're inside jokes and ten of two and grandbabies and the very best of intentions.

I don't tell stories about my family here because even though I'd like nothing more than to hear that we're not the only family like this, I need to believe -- for Noah's sake-- that none of it really matters, and that one day he'll have happier stories to tell about us.

Dsc00239

Comments

katbliss

Ya, me too.

Suzanne

That smiling child at the bottom says it all.

I started my blog to vent about issues. My mom dying of a cancer that was totally preventable, my son's autism, my husband's lack of hours at his job...

With my mom's dying and subsequent death, the friends who couldn't understand why I first moved three hundred, then a thousand miles from my family got the front row seat to the dysfunction.

Unlike you and yours, I won't even pretend that I like the people they are. You've got a lot more strength than I do!

Cheryl

I used to think I had the best family and we were all happy and gooey. Then I grew up and realized there's a reason that we only see each other once a year. Maybe. And I almost don't mind that.

Starbuck

I know how hard it can be. One side of my family is just like you described and the other is grudges for years. I always feel in the middle, since family is more important to me than holding grudges for years.

Noah will have much happier memories as long as you don't repeat the cycle, intentionally. Nobody is perfect and no parent is perfect. It's so hard to break cycles like that, but our kids are so worth it.

As Paula Deen says, "Sending you love and best dishes".

ninasmom

Well said

Aimee

Distance can make any situation seem "not so bad" until you're back in it and HAVE to face it (read: that once a year gathering).

You aren't the only one. That's why we get to pick our next families. Your hubby and Noah are a great trade.

Love that swinging pic.

Becca

Sweet pic! And I love my family and consider them pretty "normal". But there is a reason you grow up and move the heck out of there.

jodi

Whose family isn't like that? I think it' jut degress.

I hear you on not blogging about the family though. When I first started blogging I had entries about the crazy that is my in-laws, and a few months ago I deleted them. I was sick in living in constant fear that they would find them.

Lisa V

Ugliness in my family too. Especially in the last five years. Members not speaking to other members for years. Addiction, rehab, lying, and cruel accusations. And those are the good parts. Thank god we never had paparazzi documenting every misfortune, because there has been plenty. There are happy things in my childhood, and early adulthood, but they get overshadowed by the last few year's bullshit.

Like you I hope my four beautiful children will more than tolerate each other as adults, and that they marry people who treat them well. And that "this family" ours, turns out better than my family.

Starbuck

I was giving this subject some more thought. And it really is hard to have kids exposed to things like that. My mom has held grudges against 2 of her 3 sisters for years. She is trying to get past them all, but family gatherings suck so bad, my Aunt and I have been tempted to not go to anything any more. It ruins our days amd my kids are in this horrible environment. My son, especially, is old enough to be aware, but hasn't asked much about it.

On the other side, my dad cut me out of his life when I was 14 (I'm 37 now). And he only speaks to his mom and my brother.

Of course, there are no easy solutions to families like these. All we can do is determine to not live life with bitterness and anger.

Avalon

That's my family......minus the cupcakes and happy birthdays. We're just all about the dysfunction without the making up.

Amanda

The worst part, for me at least, is that you have to NOT blog the stuff that is actually the most compelling part of your life. The stuff that would make the very best blog entries. I have a GOLDMINE of stories about my crazy mother that I just can't tell.

Emily

That little mug there makes you want to try for perfection, doesn't it? In our family it was my mom who broke the chain and she made sure that we had a much more solid family growing up than she did. Every day I'm happy and thankful to her for my childhood and for the childhood I can guide my kids through because of her hard work.

Miss Britt

There is a sign you can get in artsy craftsy stores that says "The Story Starts Here..."

Maybe you should pick one up for your yard. :-)

Erin

I always try to love my family members because of who, and not how, they are. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who really understands just how manipulative, snarky, and back-stabbing they can be.. but also the only one who can see how selfless, understanding, and devoted they can be. I'm either wanting to smother them in hugs and kisses or roundhouse kick them, Chuck Norris style. Some friends can be the same way.. and I got to CHOOSE them. go figure.

missbanshee

The amount of drama that has been teeth-clenchingly silenced in my family throughout the generations could fill a thousand encyclopedias. We are AMAZING at not addressing situations that really, REALLY need to be addressed. Hang in there and concentrate on that sweet little face in that swing.

anne nahm

Take care.

Jackie DeGan

I got chills because I felt like you were describing my family... I have the same hope for my kids.

Amanda

Hey, are we cousins? Your family sounds JUST like mine!

cursingmama

Still falling into the Bershon at 37 - need I say more?

earlyduckie

My family is fairly "normal" (whatever that is) and my hubby's is the complete opposite. I struggle all the time with wanting Will to know his families but with wanting to shield him from the "crazies." Follow your gut - just looking at Noah's sweet face is enough to know that you are doing a great job as a mom!

teachbroeck

"Children gorw into the intellectual life around them." Lev Vygotsky
That is my hope and mantra! Because really my daughter doesn't need to remember Marsha and Bobby.

teachbroeck

And since I can't spell GROW take pity on my child!

Broad

As if growing up in one family like you've described isn't bad enough, try having another one find you and thrust its 10-times worse dysfunction your way. Makes one very glad for caller ID, I tells you.

That's why I tell everyone I was born in the Cabbage Patch.

the reluctant ADDult

I've always said: families are God's way of forcing us to have relationships with people we would otherwise not have relationships with.

Sometimes the healing has to take place outside of the family of origin. You are creating a healthly new family. It is easier to change yourself than others, although turning the cruise ship of family history around can be hard.

I think you have put into words (quite elegantly, I might add) what many of us have experienced--still experience--with our families. It is good not to write about it, though; better to keep your focus on what you want to create in your home.

What a beautiful child you have there! That happy face says it all.

Leah

There must be a universal toddler swing face. Check this out: http://flickr.com/photos/sweetjuniper/133971692/in/set-72057594086576965/

Mary

You're not alone. A nasty custody drama involving my husband's mother and sister (dealing with his three kids from a previous marriage) caused him to finally say, "Screw you people," and we haven't spoken to any of them now in almost a year and a half. It's been the most peaceful 18 months of our marriage. They fit the description you gave of your family to a T, so much so that it gave me the willies and made me bust out laughing at the same time.

Hang in there, kiddo. With work and keeping in mind what you had to contend with growing up, you can give Noah some awesome memories and experiences, without all the "Jerry Springer" drama. That's what I want for my 2-year-old, too. Keeping him away from my in-laws is a good first step.

jonniker

Oh yes. I know intellectually you know this, and you know that there are lots and lots of families like yours, but it doesn't hurt to hear that you're so not alone. A lot of us are trying to break the cycle of pain and divorce, and really, I think our generation is going to do it.

That picture of Noah is the best ever. The best! EVER! Extra exclamation points!

!!!!

Kyla

I hope that, too, Amy.

Tessa

Amalah I first want to say how MUCH I love your blog. I don't think I've ever commented here but I read you daily and you make me laugh and think on a regular basis!

As for today's post, all families have their own brand of ugliness. While wanting to shield your adorable lil' man from it is normal I almost wonder why we try so hard to protect our kids from that aspect of our families and ourselves. I think its important for them to see people for who they are and relationships for what they are. It helps them become more rounded as a person themselves and more capable of handling those situations when its their turn to do so. Hiding the uglies may give them unrealistic expectations as to people and families and love that they can't quite overcome later in life. I'm not saying, yanno, throw him in the middle of it and let him deal with it NOW, but seeing it, even at his young age, isn't necessarily going to scar him. It all depends on how he sees you handle it. That's where he'll get his understanding and his coping mechanisms for his future relationships. :) ... then again... I'm prolly fulla crap! heh

mswas

you are such a great writer, even when NOT writing about stuff

big hugs to you from NJ (yes, the one with NEWARK penn station) ;)

Alyce

A wonderful post, even in all of its vague glory. Bittersweet.

Anne Glamore

That's exactly what I don't blog about either, and Lord let me say, there are stories to tell. In fact, there's a show on TV now that's pretty close, but not as bad as my family. I emailed the writers to tell them that if they ever run out of ideas for storylines, just call.

But you're right, it's you and Jason and Noah that matter, and I think our generation realizes that. Perhaps we recognize it in a way that our parents did not, and will be the ones to break the cycle. That's my hope, anyway. I've learned as much about how NOT to parent as how to do so from my family.

andrea

It all sounds so familiar. My family has it share of issues and none of us are very good at apologies so things never seem to get resolved, just swept under the carpet until the issue arises again.

My husbands family on the other hand is out of a television sitcom, perfect from every angle. Everything I always thought I wanted, but now that I am part of it I find I miss the raw honesty, however dysfunctional it might be, that my family possesses.

If nothing else I know that the most important thing is for all of us to come together and show my son all the love in the world, and be a little less critical of all our faults.

Love the picture of Noah, the baby swing is out favorite place on earth!

Marilyn aka callistawolf

I don't blog about mine either. And... for what its worth... yours isn't the only one. BELIEVE ME.

HollowSquirrel

Our families were fantastic until my father-in-law married an evil woman. The last time we saw her, I vowed never to have Jojo around that kind of ugly again. So, we don't see my father-in-law as much, but I'm fine with that. And we'll always tell stories of life with Opa before the Evil One.

Amy the Mom

I feel exactly the same way. I am separated by 850 miles from the insanity that is my family. I love to tell people "someday, I'll write a book about all of this" but in reality, I just can't see the upside to venting about their bullshit on the Internet or in a tell-all tome. Better for me to focus on how I want my kids to be raised and what kind of family life I want to create for all of us.

Incredible capture of Noah!

Amy H

one of my brothers? totally cool and fun to be around. The other brother? polar opposite. Holds grudges, talks bad about people who use drugs and then gets arrested for it, doesn't have anything nice to say--ever.

Still, every summer we all gather at our beach house (my parents, both brothers and wifes/kids, and my husband/baby) and spend a week together. By the end of it we are all talking about each other behind our backs. But for that first day--or few hours--when everything is good it is all worth it.

KJ

I hear ya. No family is perfect and there is no such thing as a functional family. Every family has some sort of dysfunction.

It is especially hard when you live away from home. I lived away for 10 years and moved back about 2 years ago. It was really tough to be around all the drama on a more frequent basis and not be able to leave and go back to my non-family life in California, far, far away from it all.

I now understand the meaning behind the saying that you don't pick your family. Because you don't. You're stuck with them, like it or not.

You're doing a great job with Noah and it sounds like you're giving him the best upbringing! I mean, look how happy he is!

Hang in there!

Jenny H.

That is a tough one. I recently wrote an entry about an episode from my past and have since deleted it. I almost wish I had never written it. Too late...

My family has it's own special brand of crazy. I won't go into it because it is a long, fucked up mess. Suffice it to say, our families are very similar. You are not alone.

I am trying to make sure my children don't have that kind of life. It is difficult. Especially since my parent's live close by. You just have to do the best that you can.

Noah is a very lucky to have such a good mama.

coffee stained

Word.
I know that Noah will have much better stories to tell. I hope the same for my daughter and I fight every day to not repeat mistakes already made by previous generations.

I also wish that I could use blog therapy to help get past my family issues and personality dysfunction, but I know that putting it all out there would do more harm than good.

Elle Kasey

Yeah, we're totally related.

When I got married I kind of freaked because I cannot believe how utterly uneffed up my husband's family is. It's not normal to be that normal. I figure they're hiding something big - like Jimmy Hoffa and Anna Nicole's baby daddy.

cagey

Last year, I actually scoured my blog of unseemly material about my family. Now, I keep it to actual things we joke about it - if I can't laugh about it WITH THEM, then I try to keep it out of my blog. It is really, really, really hard though because my mom's family is not dysfunctional, they are actually UNfunctional. I used to call her mother the Crazy Leavenworth Grandma because she IS crazy and mean-spirited and constantly does wacky things to hurt my mom's feelings. But, as I've gone fairly un-anonymous now, I dropped the "crazy" from her moniker.

Sarahd

Thank you for this post. What a humbling post.

I think everyone has said everything so far in the previous comments.

Zu

When it all gets too sucky, just look at that incredible little smiling face of Noah's and give him a big hug. Believe me it is the best therapy in the world.

Tracy

Dude. We're totally related. My family is much the same, although, I DO vent about my mother on my blog...cuz it has to come out somewhere.

The hard thing is trying to explain to my husband why, even though they make me insane, I won't move away from them. Guess you have to grow up in that to understand it?

BOSSY

Bossy doesn't mind blogging about her extended family because none of them can afford high speed internet.

Steph

Sounds just like my family, expect for the yelling part. We never actually release any of the anger. It just stays and festers forever. I wouldn't give up my family for the world, though.

Melanie

Are we related? Because you just described my family right down to the ground.
It's my fond hope that my daughters will have "happier stories to tell about us," too. And I think they will. I think they'll have just as many fucked up stories to tell, but somehow that's necessary, to my way of thinking. Family isn't all rainbows and ponies and lollipops. My family is made up of real live human beings with all kinds of flaws and foibles. I love them all for it, even as I am completely, disbelievingly pissed at them for it.
Great thoughts today.

Jessica

I'm right there with you. I look at my daughter and husband and wish with all my heart that the past won't repeat itself. I have to believe it really, there's no other way.

ivonne

Sounds just like my family

melissa.in.london

You must be like a long-lost cousin of mine. Seriously.

Theresa

Not perpetuating the cycle. Those 4 words are what my mother must have repeated to herself daily as I was growing up. Though she made her own mistakes (and who won't, as a mother?) she did not make mistakes that had already been made.

And beyond that, what I really admire her for, is that she let me have a relationship with her father that was all my own. It would have been so easy for her to project her antipathy onto her small child and deny her father access to his granddaughter. Instead she let me alone, let me have "Grandpa days" and my memories of him are happy and innocent because of it. As I grew up and became aware of the dysfunction on my own, I went up to her and thanked her for letting me have my Grandpa on my own terms. Even though he was a bastard to her, he was so sweet to me and I know it must have taken such strength on her part to let me form my own opinions.

I hope I can do the same for my kids when it comes to their grandparents (My mother-in-law is a one woman horror show when it comes to dysfunction and my father in law drank himself into a coma, during whence we found out about his woman on the side. Good good times, I'll write a book someday) Part of the reason my husband and I are waiting to have kids is because some hurts are still too raw and I know I wouldn't be able to keep from brainwashing them with my opinions. Lord grant me the strength of my own mother.

Marie

I think you've just described the "any family."

And you MUST have been eavesdropping on our Thanksgiving extravaganza!

gorillabuns

there is no such thing as a perfect brady bunch family. if someone thinks they have one, then they are ignoring the alcoholism, obesity, anger and closeted relations.

Gry

Clearly (from the earlier comments) we all struggle with crazy-ass families to some degree. When my dad died, I established my life priorities as my marriage, my health and my family, in whatever order needed the most attention at the time. Is it any wonder that my family tops the list most of the time?

I don't blog abut them because a) I'm scared to death of hurting feelings (that may really need to get hurt) and b) there isn't enough bandwidth across the entire internet to accommodate the things I would have to say.

As I get ready to have my first child in September, I have to believe that we can break the cycle. Our generation has more emotional awareness and social knowledge (for lack of a better term) than any generation previously. That's got to be an advantage, right?

GM

I gave up believing we were "normal" when my dad divorced his 2nd wife at about age 70 to run off to Oklahoma with his highschool sweetheart who dumped him when he went into the Marines.

Oh, and my brother-in-law's family considers fresh road kill to be a food source. Every family has its own special crazy. I guess the best we can do is learn from history.

bird

I'm with you on that one.

leelee

ditto all that.

only i'm moving back to the same town as my crazy...woohhhh.

Lori

My GOD! WE ARE ALL RELATED! Or maybe everybody has a family that's just a little bit fucked up. I remember when I thought I was the only one who had a family like that. Then I got married.

BaltimoreGal

I'm there as well- lighter on the divorce and cancer but an extra helping of untimely death, depression and addiction.

I rarely talk about this facet of my family in any detail unless I am with those who I know well (and trust). Other times, it takes a like soul- sometimes you can just tell they're "in the shit", too.

It used to be because I didn't want our family "issues" to hurt our facade= dad's career, our social standing. Now- I just want to try not to hurt each other.

What does that mean? I don't talk to one brother much, even though I love him with all my heart. It just hurts too much to know what goes on, since I can't do anything to help. Or I refuse to tell my sweet mom again why her well-meaning words sting so because it hurts her too much to hear it- so we aren't always as close as we could be. Or I walk away from my dad when he starts ranting and raving about political things that he hears from others that I know he doesn't really believe in his heart, rather than beat my head against that wall.

What can you do, though? Commiserate and move on, I guess. Thanks for this, Amy.

Wacky Mommy

Mary Karr ("Liars' Club," "Cherry") said in an interview once that she was blown away by how many readers came up to her at book-signings to tell her "that's my family you wrote about!" And she was like, really? No, really?

Heh heh. Yeah, we can all relate.

lynn

I remember once when I was at a Christmas party, it was all women, mostly Moms,we had to go around the room and talk about our a holiday tradition our family had when we were growing up. The first few were the traditional, you know, baking cookies, shopping with Dad to help pick out gifts for Mom, stars on trees, ya da, ya da...then someone broke the ice and asked if dysfunction was a tradition and we all laughed. Stories were told of family grudges, too much wine, not enough wine, arguments over whether fruit salad is a side dish or dessert, (mine) you know, important crap like that. My point is,
and I do have one, is that the little boy in the swing is so lucky to have parents who are looking out for his memories.

NTE

Yes, this sounds quite familiar. But you've got your hope, sitting right there in that swing.

Rhonda

Hi Amy! De-lurking to say that I started to read your blog a week ago and I've read through all the archives and am convinced we are two of a kind. After reading this I'm positive! Funniest part is it seems everyones family is just as f'd up as the next and I for one wouldn't have it any other way! By the way...you ROCK!!(Way too many of these !!!!!!!, sue me)

nicolemarie

feels kinda stupid to comment since what I want to say has been said like over and over. but anyhow..

you're family sounds like my family.

thanks for this post, it really hits home and is a good reminder that I'm not the only one with a family like this.

Jerri Ann

Hey, I made the mistake of blogging about my family and it was not a good thing...really really not a good thing.

Hey, if you are feeling gracious, I could use a link to a new blog I have...I"m lonely over there...www.lifeinreality.com

Stacy

This post was really touching. Thank you.

That picture is a most happy boy who obviously has happiness in his lovely self already. And you'll make more for him because you know why you should.

And hey, that's a really big thing.

Isabel

Family...aghhh!

Thanks for sharing this with us. It sounds like, from the comments, that no family is safe.

And look at the mug. What a sweet little guy. Good thing he has you and Jason.

Mariana

I honestly think we might be related, cause you just described my dad's side of the family!
But, I too, like to believe that in the grand scheme of it all, it doesn't matter, cause at the end of the day, it is the laughter and the christmas morning stockings that really stick to our memory!

Tracie

My husband and I always comment about how we hope to hell that our kids never talk about us the way we talk about our families when they get older. This is one of the many reasons why we have started their "therapy" fund right alongside their college fund!

Whenever I get down about my family and the crap they decide to pull at one time or another, I look at my beautiful children and my loving husband and have comfort knowing that THIS is my true family. THIS is what truly matters to me and not the BS of the latest drama in either one of our families.

Good luck to you in whatever it is you are going through. And thanks for sharing that darling picture of Noah! I think he's a very lucky little boy to have you as him momma!

Julia

I was lucky, I grew up in the Leave it to Beaver family ~ really. But I married the polar opposite. and boy has that been hard. good for you for being observant and caring so much for your son that you are starting a new story with him : )

Melissa

great post!

DirkStar

Wow, are we related?

suitep

You reeled me in slowly with this post, and by the end...I was crying.

the bee

We must be related. Our generation decided to kick the crazy out of our lives and the kids are being raised differently. The healing takes a lifetime but I have forgiven . I tell my nieces and nephews I love them every day.
One look at Noah's happy baby boy face and you have answered your own question. He is one lucky fellow. the bee

christina

You are preaching to the choir about family fucked-up-ness! Just found your blog... I'll be back!

Audrey

I am officially delurking. This was an amazing post, and without giving too many details, it gave us a sense of what you're going through, and how you're feeling.

What I wanted to say was that I am from "second generation" dysfunctional families. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc -- All crazy (although a few have gotten a lot better over the years). My mother and father and brother? Not dysfunctional. A little odd, yes, a little quirky ... Not perfect by any means. But not on the same level as my parent's parents.

I understand that this is your goal for Noah ... And I just wanted to say that it is totally possible to create a healthy, happy home when you grew up in a dysfuntional one. I was aware of the craziness of my non-immediate family. My parents were always very honest about it with me. But I also viewed them on my terms ... Grandchildren are treated differently than children. It's a different relationship. And luckily for me, it's been pretty good (although we've had some ups and downs).

I'm sure Noah is going to have wonderful memories of his childhood. Take care!

Charing

You have described my family exactly the way we are. We must be cousins.

cce

Have you seen Running with Scissors. I watched it last Saturday and feel so much better now about my own family. Really, it's a must see for those that have anything approaching a dysfunctional family life. Still not convinced, go read my send up of it last week:
http://www.madmarriage.com/blog/2007/03/19/90/ and see if it doesn't tempt you to rent this doozy.

William

It's that kind of writing about family that says it all.

Jen

I read your blog almost every day but have never commented... until today. This entry really struck a cord with me. I, too, avoid blogging about my family as yours sounds much like mine.

Not to get into too much detail, but I have a three-month-old daughter of whom my family has never met. We haven't spoken for nearly a year and despite my efforts long ago to work things out, I doubt the situation will ever be resolved.

A lot of families are disfunctional. But I've learned to take all the hurt I've felt over the years and turn it into that much more love for my daughter and husband, for MY family's sake.

Thanks for the humble reminder. :)

Secha

Families are... they just are. That's about all you can really say about it. My family is "normalish", but we have a relative that no one talks to, because she stole stuff from my great grandmother, and then she supplied alcohol to my alocholic grandfather in his assitant living place. Plus numerous other backstabbing incidents. My dad was the last one to speak with her. We haven't talked to her in a good 5 or 6 years. And she's in for a hell of a surprise when she finds out she's only getting 1$ from my grandfather.

My boyfriends family, on the other hand... he has a stepfather who mentally and emotionally abused him from the time he was 9 years old. His stepfather hasn't said a word to me in the 9 months we've been dating. His mother has no spine to stand up for him. His father was a recovering alocholic who is now married to an alcoholic who got him drinking again. His brother is adicted to oxycontin and marijuana, and dating a marijuana dealer.

Needless to say, should we ever have kids, they won't be subjected to this. They might see our children on holidays, but neither of us want our children growing up around that. They don't need to be subjected to any of that.

Families just are. You are a strong person for knowing what you have to do, and how you have to try to not repeat things. =)

paintingchef

You aren't the only family like this. We are passive-agressive somehow twisted up with unconditional love at its very finest. You get the family you get dealt. And you can either learn to love them and deal with them just as they are, try and change them, or just write them off. I think you chose the right approach. You aren't alone. And I promise you this... If there is ever possibly one bad experience Noah would have to talk about, there will be one thousand good ones. You're doing just fine.

Alexandra

It really is only about what you do today, right now - that is the ONLY part you can get good at. I have some family stuff myself and yet I have managed to raise (so far!) a wonderful, loving, smart young man (15). I take nothing for granted, but I have to feel good about what I have done so far, and so should you!
XOXO

Pink Herring

You are SO not alone on that one, Amy.

Christina

Thank you for this post. I know 86 other people responded by little response may not matter but I totally appreciate. I stopped talking to my family when my son was a few weeks old because I could no longer do this and like the first person to post on here feel the same way in varying degrees. I want my son to know my side the family but on the other hand, it might kill me. I am working on reconnecting but I refuse to deal with the BS that they bring. As the PP said, you have more strength then I but I do appreciate your words since they brought tears to my eyes as I try to decide how to deal my family...

Chantelle Burke-Allman

I've been a loyal reader for quite some time. I've shared your joys and heartbreaks as have all your readers. I have never felt the need to post until now.
I too, have a family that is ill.
The holidays, with fake smiles and kind words, are simply a band-aid for the wounds that never heal. For every good thing that we share, 10 bad things grow. Abuse, neglect, mental illness, vindictive and cruel words and actions...these are not a part of all families(do not let other people fool you...)We belong to a "special" group of kids who were born into it. No one knows until they've actually been there.
The scars from this life, are imprinted on our souls just as surely as a tattoo on skin. We carry the baggage with us wherever we go, and yes, it touches the people around us, and sometimes leaves a mark on them as well. You are worried about Noah- and with good reason. your only job in this world is to sheild him from the bullshit this world wants to dish out. I have a son too, and when I was pregnant, I honestly contemplated not keeping him, because I was scared that the sins of my family, would somehow touch him. And they did. But to my surprise, in wonderful ways. When he was placed in my arms, I just knew that I had found a purpose. That all the pain of my life, had made me tough and hard, so that he(Oliver), could make me soft...I hope this makes sense to you(I have a feeling it will).
Oh god amy, the love that pours out of people like us is unreal. It's like we have an over-abundance of it because we never got the chance to use it before.
I too, went through a mental breakdown a few years ago. And it showed me two things: A)It's o.k to let someone in to help fix the things that are broken and B)Love can kick anything's ass...
Word !
Take care and thanks for being there for me, even though you didn't know it...

Mo

You just blogged about your family.

Sorry, sorry, couldn't resist the poke.
Seriously though, hope you're hanging in there ok and getting some sort of fulfillment out of your family visit.

And might I say, a finely written post, Amy.

Robbi

I just have a question. How is it that you are 100% okay with blogging every detail of your son's life, but you steer clear of writing about your family? How is it any different? Not being judgmental here but I don't get it. Your son will be able to read and use the internet one day. You aren't worried about embarassing him or worrying that he'll be upset that you shared his every waking moment with the world?

some girl

Hi Amy,

It's funny you mention this now. I am just coming to the realization of how truly fucked up my childhood was, and even though I vowed to not be like my mother, I see so much of her in me that I don't like. I think it takes actively identifying the cause of the dysfunction and actively preventing it from happening in the future through constant mindfulness. I realized that I was determined to not repeat the cycle, but I just thought that was enough to do it. Kind of like someone who is determined not to get fat, and thinks that the determination is enough. Now I know that my mistake, and my mother's mistake before me was not finding out HOW not to let it happen again. The worst part of my upbringing was that she thought she had ended the cycle of abuse, and would tell me I was a spoiled brat if I ever complained, since she had it so much worse. I'm happy now that I've got the tools to make change along with the drive, so hopefully I won't fuck up my kids like she did and think I was a great parent.
Sorry this was long as hell.

Danell

I think it's Toddler Smiles that are causing Global Warming...because don't you just feel your heart get all toasty when you look at that picture?

Emily

I just wanted to join the chorus of "you are not alone" and "I so understand honey". Sending you hugs and love the occasional margarita.

QofD

All families are like that. We're all fucked up, and we're all wonderful, and we all deny the fucked-upness in theface of the wonderful and vice versa.

Rahn

I wanted to say something clever, but all I can think of is...

Well done

Love the entry

carrie

That was lovely. And interesting. I just wrote an entry mentioning my screwed up upbringing and my psyho step father and how I am still making sure that I don't follow that path, or do anything to scar my beloved daughter because of things that happened to me. It's a deep fear that I have, what "they" say about not being able to break the cycle and raise your children the way you were raised. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one that even thinks about that. Although, heh, I think you're pretty safe! Just look at that beautiful, happy, little face.

Vid Digger

Sounds like a normal family to me. Now if I told you about my family, you may never blog again.

Noah looks happy, so you must be doing something right!

Jen

You caught me on such a day where your blog made me start crying, because it is everything that my family is also. Thanks for keepin it real and letting me know that mine is not the only dysfunction!

Missie

Quit posting pictures of that first grader and give us some shots of Noah.

Kendra

Thank you.

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