Wednesday, December 28, 2005


This was one of the only times I've gone home and didn't mind being there. I would have stayed another day or two if I hadn't planned on coming back this evening. But when I packed my bag on Saturday morning, I assumed I would be ready to leave within four days. I usually am.

My parents have been "having problems" since 1997. Eight, almost nine years. That time has changed me; I've become harder, more cynical, and more fearful of my own future. I've grown cooler toward my father, once the man I so longed to be near at all times. My mother and I have grown close, sometimes so close that she relies on me as a confidante in matters that should not concern a daughter.

According to my grandmother recently, I was "born old". I think most only children grow up quickly. You find yourself among adults often, mimicking them and putting on so that you might appear to be one of them sooner than you should. You may become close to one or both of your parents since they have no other children on whom they can depend. You have to be responsible because there is no older sibling there to look after you and no one younger for you to place blame. And when your parents fight, you are stuck in the middle. The child becomes the messenger, shuttling questions or demands between mother and father. You become an ally to one parent, and you are then used in negotiations and power plays. Or you find yourself drifting to one parent's side because it looks like the "right" place to be.

Having problems at home changed my attitude about being there. I was more reluctant to have friends over at our house during high school and college. Few of my college friends have even been to my house. And only a handful of my closest friends really understand what is going on between my parents. Sometimes I am embarrassed. Or angry. Or jealous of my friends' parents. It has made me not want to go home, to stay in my sorority house or at my apartment rather than visit my parents. People tend to see me as someone who dislikes or doesn't believe in the meaning of family. Holidays are not anticipated. Because I don't elaborate, my friends just think I'm a Scrooge.

I wish that I could look forward to visits home or Christmas at my grandparents' house. I wish I could feel the same adoration for my father that I did as a child. I wish that my mom didn't turn to me for guidance. But as I get older and these problems evolve instead of disappear, I've managed to make the best of it. I enjoyed my time at home this year because I didn't let myself worry or become sad over how strange the situation is. Instead, I spent hours baking with my mom on Saturday and laughing with my family on Sunday. I went to the movies twice with my mom and, as the only grandchild on my mom's side, I made sure to spend time with my grandma.

I kept feeling myself get emotional this weekend, tears welling up at unexpected times. Some of these feeling probably have nothing to do with my family, but I'm confident that some of the tears meant that I was just happy to have them around.


Sub Girl said...

i'm glad this was a good visit for you. I also felt the same way growing up--i wished i had a normal happy family where i could bring my friends over.

coolerbythelake said...

Great post. I'm enjoying your blog! One of my new daily reads!