Sunday, December 27, 2009
For much of my life I spent the holidays obsessing about not having the perfect family. I’ve always been haunted by Brady Bunch like visions of the big happy family. My family of origin was small and dysfunctional. And continuing the family pattern I went on to two unhappy marriages. I finally got the marriage thing right the third time around but the dream of the perfect family still eluded me--a loving partner, wonderful children, and a large, supportive extended family.
My husband I did not have children (which was the right decision for us) but one consequence was putting the Brady Bunch dream further out of reach. And my little son was stuck shuttling back and forth between 2 households in a tension- filled joint custody arrangement.
For the most part, I haven’t wasted too much time feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have this dream family. But the holidays always brought these anxieties to the foreground and there were years when I really dreaded the holidays.
Yes, I know how rare it is to have a happy marriage and to have an extended family free of tension, in-law problems, and ancient, unresolved quarrels threatening to disrupt the family dinner. It’s not like the whole world has something from which I alone am shut out.
For reasons I don’t fully understand I’ve gotten beyond my dream of the perfect family. I have my wonderful husband, my son, my sister and her family, and many wonderful friends. I will never have that huge happy family I’ve always dreamed about, but I’ve made my peace with that. And one consequence is that the holidays are no longer an ordeal to be gotten through.