I wish I had an answer to this question, but I don’t. For those of you who want to stop reading now, you should definitely consider yourself to be warned. I’m not feeling especially insightful, and I don’t have any profound knowledge of human nature that you don’t. In fact, I’m probably about as perplexed about it as most of you are, at least most of the time.
This week was for sure one of those weeks. With two kids out of town in new places for school, I have spent a mathematically impossible number of hours on the phone with each of them. Any of you who have been reading this blog for any length of time know that I am a super nest-y mommy. I am the type who, in an ideal world would own land so all of my married kids could build their own homes within walking distance of mine. I would have a diningroom table (or better yet, one in the kitchen, because that’s even cozier) that seats about 50 and we could all eat our meals together. I would have enough bedrooms in my house so that grandkids could sleep over all the time, and my children’s spouses would feel like my own kids. I would homeschool everyone, not because we are glommy, but because we just enjoy being together, and life would be all good.
But, in reality things don’t always turn out how we plan, and I currently have several kids in several places. I’m excited for the opportunities they have, but I miss them like crazy, and judging by the number of phone calls we get each day, the feelings are mutual.
However, that’s not even the hardest part of the past week.
This past week, because apparently I have really bad judgment when it comes to deciding when to open up a vile can of worms, I thought I should have a conversation with my siblings about my Grandma. My Grandma is getting older, and has moved out of her house. This may or may not be permanent. As she nears her hundredth birthday (give or take a few years), some decisions are going to have to be made. And rather than wait until those decisions are right upon us and emotions are crazy, I thought I would open a dialogue with my sisters now about some things we might want to think about addressing. I tried really hard to be delicate about how I brought those things up, but there really is no good way to say certain things, and the fact that I brought it up at all kind of makes me look like a creep. Maybe.
The problem is, if the past is any guide to the future, I can kind of predict how things will play out if we don’t talk about anything now. Nobody wants to rock the boat when things are calm, so everyone has assumptions, whether they are aware of them or not. Time marches on, and since it is forbidden to speak about anything, people just assume that when ultimately something terrible happens, we will all figure out amicable solutions then. But when tensions are high because everyone is in their own grief, and awash with emotions, it isn’t the ideal time to problem-solve. Normal people act irrationally and do stupid selfish things, and feelings are irrevocably hurt. I have an aunt, uncle, and 3 cousins who I have seriously not spoken to in a decade and a half over just such a situation- and the irony is that it didn’t even involve me directly. Yet the situation I am trying to avoid just looks like it will get here sooner if I press the issue.
So perhaps the answer is that it is the hard conversation in itself that makes the time bad, and not vice versa. Maybe the ostrich is right to put its head in the sand and then the bad thing will just pass it on by. Or at least the other ostriches will never blame it for starting trouble.
It’s funny that at one point this week I told my daughter that she should treat herself the way she treats kids she babysits for. I said, “You know how sometimes you will just watch the kids melting down and you know you’ve tried everything you can do for them? You know that what they are falling apart over is so irrational that there is only one solution left? Sometimes you just look at their sweet little faces and say, ‘Okay kids- naptime!’?” My daughter was totally at this point herself. She was completely exhausted and at her wit’s end. I could tell she was past the point of making any sense, and I really felt like it was fruitless to even try to talk her through anything else until she had a chance to rest.
Yet here I was this past week- *h was away on business, two of my kids had just left home, my kids at home were a wreck that their siblings had gone away, and I thought that would be an opportune time to have one of the touchiest conversations possible with my sisters. Over email. Yeah, I didn’t even tell you that part.
So maybe I need a reset. Maybe I need a nap- or 20. Maybe I need one of those magic 8-balls that you shake up and it gives you the right advice when you are about to make a really dumb decision.
Or maybe I should just ask you guys what you think before I make any other life decisions…