Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Failed Family

"See how time makes all grief decay.
- Adelaide Proctor

This time last year I was in limbo between a crappy visit to my home state of Ohio and the death of my mother. I had commented in a blog posts that maybe one day I would write my feelings about all of this but maybe not. It's been a year and I think I'm finally ready. I'm ready to say "Good bye" to certain parts of my extended family that either floated away unceremoniously or came to a fiery end.

A few months after my mom died my grandmother, heartbroken - literally, died too. Death exposes vulnerability in the living and man oh man, sometimes there are some strong reactions. Facebook is a great forum for inappropriate and thoughtless criticisms,  and email is a convenient format for impersonal rebuttal. The result was the severance of a relationship with a cousin. A few months later his mother, my aunt, passively refused to come not but a few miles down the road see me after I traveled across the country to be in Ohio. She's never met Ada and probably never will. Things are no better with my two other cousins on my moms side. One came to San Francisco a few months ago and didn't bother to even make contact.


I didn't see this coming. When I was 8 years old there was nothing you could have said that would lead me to believe that the safety net that I believed without question would always be there to catch me would absolutely vanish into thin air. Gone are the days of masses of people crowded around the table at Thanksgiving or passing out in front of a football game on Christmas day or taking turns kneading the babka for Easter. This big, close family I grew up with who were always just around has disintegrated.
All I have left is an aunt on my mom's side and my a cousin on my dad's side. I don't mean it to sound like they aren't enough, it's just a depressingly whittled down version of what I grew up with. (you're not in this head count, dad. You're kind of stuck with me whether you like it or not.)


I'm sad.

I am mostly sad for Ada who will miss out on all the security and drama of an extended family. She will have Tim's family and they are rowdy and extended and have warmly welcomed me. It's just different for me, though. I can't tell her stories about the crazy things I did with these people when we were kids.


Some good has come of this. While I have craved familial stability since my parents split up I am even more determined than ever to create it within my own little nucleus of a family. I am hell-bent on growing our family to include at least one more baby. Tradition and connectedness are always driving forces behind the decisions I make for my daughter and my family. There are so many questions I would love to ask my mom but I'll never have those answers. That won't happen to my daughter. Leaving a trail for Ada in the form of letters, picture books and this blog are something I'm dedicated to. She will have piles of evidence to prove my devotion and love for her in case I'm not around to do it in person.

Even with these ideals more finely honed, what a disappointment that my established family fell apart when people started dying. We are also failing at growing our own family (pretty sure this cycle is a bust). My failed family. 

Edit to add: seems to be a lot of confusion so I guess I wasn't clear. I do not think that my family in its present form is a failure. Rather, our attempts at adding another baby are failing. It is confirmed - this medicated cycle was not successful.


What about you? Do you have a family? Does your family make you crazy? Do you miss them?  Lay on me...they'll never read this.
Pourin' it out with Shell today.

12 Lovies: said...

Oh Monica! I really wish i could reach through this screen and give you a great big hug. and i'm NOT a huggy touchy feely person! ;)
i'm SO so sorry for all who've you lost. my heart breaks for you.

you said "There are so many questions I would love to ask my mom but I'll never have those answers. That won't happen to my daughter. Leaving a trail for Ada in the form of letters, picture books and this blog are something I'm dedicated to. She will have piles of evidence to prove my devotion and love for her in case I'm not around to do it in person."

this is me and Lovie. my mom is still here but she remembers nothing from my youth (too drunk back then i guess). NOTHING. it's so sad to me. and that's why i blog (privately) to Lovie- though i may share finallyMom with her, too.

i really do hope you can continue to build your family but i also think the three of you are pretty awesome as is.

Judy said...

I am sorry for all of your hurt and pain but you are now a Shepherd and part of this whole crazy family. Don't ever let me hear you say you are a failure or I will fly out there and kick your ass. You are a wonderful human being who already has a great family and when the time comes for another baby he or she will just be added to that awesome family not make it any more successful. Your family is not a failure in any way whether you are pregnant or not.
We love you.

Lisa said...

My family is very small. My mom, stepdad an uncle. I have more family but do to ridiculous fights and arguments (none involving me), I don't see or talk to them other than FB.

My husband's family is huge and they have welcome me with open arms. I never had a big family so I can't relate there, but I can relate to the emptiness and sadness at one of our kid's parties when no one from "my" family is there. And that's how it is going to be for the rest of my life.

Shell said...

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.

My family is not very big and yet full of drama. We aren't close.

Galit Breen said...

I'm so sorry that you're going through all of this. I understand the double edged-ness of not being close to family and yet being fiercely hell bent on tradition.

Mari said...

Hugs and love to you.

One of the saddest parts of IF for me has been that my husband always said that he and I weren't a family, since we didn't have kids. That always made me sad, it does still. Even though he's stopped saying it.

Ada is a lucky girl. What you're doing is wonderful. She is truly loved and she has a very interesting extended family of loving strangers all over the place. :)

Hi! I'm Aitch said...

This post made me so sad.

I have a large extended family attached to both parents, but their divorce, along with geography and political proclivities have loosened familial bonds.

On top of that, as an only child I always longed for a big family. It is why, despite my physical frailties, I am determined to try to give The Boy a sibling. He deserves that much - a try.

I wish you all the luck in world, Peeper. But I curse you for writing such a post while I'm PMSing :P

Off to cry...

Anonymous said...

Monica I am sorry for all that you have lost. I had no idea. My family is crazy disfunctional as is Scot's extended family, but generally get a long when together, even with some I haven't seen since childhood. Ada is lucky to have you, I am reminded that I need to put together more tangible reminders for the boys. You nuclear family though is NOT a failure. I can tell by the pictures of your beautiful daughter. No disrespect to Tim, but she looks just like you and will be happy to listen to your stories even though she will never know the players in person. Love to you sweetie. Becca

Peeper said...

Thanks everyone :)

I should make it clear that I do not and would not ever consider our current little family a failure. I love us as we are and if it is just the three of us forever I will be happy. We would love to grow our family though. After so many cycles that haven't resulted in a pregnancy and one pregnancy that ended early I think we can say that we are not doing very well in the family expansion department! Not for a lack of trying...

Adrienne said...

Family does make me crazy. We've had ups and downs (major) on both sides. One thing I've learned is that God con restore any relationship! No matter how shattered we think it is! Another thing I've learned is that He won't repair unhealthy ones. I hope you get to see his love and faithfulness through some repair, and I also pray that the repairs include healthy boundaries for you. Families can be so complicated!!

I think it's awesome that you are focusing on the only family that matters most. Yours. Building new traditions and creating a new safety net for your little girl is the best thing you can do!

redheadreverie said...

I am so sorry you are going through this. My dad died last spring, and like you my parents aren't together. It's hard when the glue that held it all together is gone, but you need to have faith that you're devotion to family will outweigh the bitter words, the indifference and death. That while you may have titled this post failed family...what I see it is your family united and loving and holding it together. HUGS!

Ty's Girl said...

As you know, I am very, very lucky to have a wonderful, supportive and loving family. It is my hubby's family that drives me crazy! Is there any chance for reconciliation? My grandmother and aunt didn't speak for 20+ (maybe 30) years and were scrambling to make amends when my grandmother's health was failing. I say send out that olive branch and you may get good results. If not, you will know you did all you could. Who could not want to meet that adorable daughter!! Plus, you do have a large extended family that you can tell stories about. I have known you for over 20 years now!!! Love you!