Since John Mahoney of “Frasier” fame passed away last month, I’ve been working my way through the reruns. Along with being a funny show, it was also filled with surprising bits of wisdom. One episode has Daphne asking “Why is it so easy to love our families, but so hard to like them.” Truer words were never spoken.
My Sister and my niece were in town a few weeks ago. They live in Seattle (I know- odd Frasier connection), so we only see each other once a year. As they were staying with my Mom, this meant I saw more of my Mother and Father. Even though my parents live in New Jersey, I try to limit how often I see them. Because, you know, it’s easy to love your family, but hard to like them.
Nothing increases my stress level more than time with my Mother. Arguments abound. We’ve never learned how to communicate with one another. Every conversation turns into a yelling match, and a show down as to who can interrupt the others the most. I don’t think I completed a sentence for four days. It ends with my Mother saying something along the lines of “I’m not screaming. I’m Italian. This is how we talk.” My Father is the opposite though- he sits stoically in the chair and says little. And my Sister, well, she is the Queen of pushing buttons. She is also the most sensitive person on the planet. She thinks every sentence uttered is a personal attack against her.
I love my family. I truly do. But spending time with them is excruciating. I had a headache for the better part of the week because we are truly unable to communicate with one another in a rational manner. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells when we are together. I try to stay calm, but my Mother and Sister often say the most ridiculous things. Ok- to be fair- they may not be ridiculous if you are a stark raving lunatic, but if you’re trying to be a somewhat logical, rational person, their statements may come across as a tad antagonistic. My Mother has opinions on most subjects. If she doesn’t have an opinion on something it’s because she doesn’t think it’s a “worthy” topic. Needless to say, my Sister has the exact opposite opinions of my Mother. And she makes that known. In fact, I believe that all the residents of my 19 story apartment building know her opinions on everything.
But I think you get the idea that the visit was mainly spent yelling.
I love my family. I know they love me and would always be there if I needed them. I just have a great deal of trouble being in the same room as them.
Never fear. There will be a few more posts that detail some of the more fun moments of the trip, as I try to logically break down exactly why you can love, yet not always like your family.