There are families who spend little time together. I found this out when a friend was shocked to hear his girlfriend grew up eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in her room. Her family just did their own thing. We are not like this, my kids pretty much only slept in their rooms, they were always around and we were always in each others faces and spaces.
There are families who spend every moment planning, outfitting, driving to, practicing for…their kids various sports. Every season, every weekend, hoping and praying for rain so they can have a day off. We were not one of these families either, weekends were spent at museums, playing games, doing projects, chilling at the beach or wandering the city.
There are families who cook together, clean together, do yard work together…completely self-sufficient, not spending a penny on a service they can do themselves. Fix a leaky sink then make a custom ice-cream cake, darn a sock then install the new windows, they got it covered. We are not one of these families, I am in awe of these families.
There are families with weekly rituals. Friday night is movie and pizza night! Hiking and bird watching every Saturday at 6am! Sunday is funday, worship then a church family lunch at the local diner! Not us…at all…we were way too scattered for family rituals, other than holidays which are rituals to the point of insanity.
What kind of family are we…we are a yelling family. We yell, we yell a lot. We yell so much that once our lovely Pastor called “just to say hi” right after a screaming match that I am sure someone called her about. Busted!
We might be yelling BYE I LOVE YOU, YOU GOT THIS, LOVE YOU! or ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND, WHAT MADE YOU THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA, SERIOUSLY? or…worse. Expressions of deep love and deep not so much love, have exactly the same delivery.
The first time Greg visited my family was Thanksgiving sophomore year. It took three trains to get home, no Amtrak on my dad’s dime. We were in art school and beyond exhausted. Studio classes are 6 hours long, preparing for those classes takes days. Anyone who thinks going to art school is a joyride should try to create multiple unique solutions to a problem then be criticized on them for 6 hours straight…it’s no party. We were underfed (no cafeteria on campus), sleep deprived, and in much need of some calm. Ha.
Greg walked into 5,000 square feet of Thanksgiving planning and prep…my family whirling dervishes of excess…too many food choices, too many last minute guests, too many lit cigarettes on various counters, too much “what can I get you”, too many people going in different directions…too much yelling.
One classic moment that weekend was sitting together on the steps in the kitchen while my mom cooked. My 16 year-old brother jumped over us, landed in the center of the kitchen, skateboard in hand, screaming he was going to his girlfriends house. Woosh, he was already out the door when my mom screamed back, “wear a condom.” Welcome to my liberal Queens NY family Mr. Iowa man, get used to it. It was a sitcom and Greg not only got used to it…he loved it. It is also when he started calling us “the yelling family”.
My girlfriend’s home had intercoms between the kitchen and the bedrooms so that they could get each others attention in a civilized manner… we needed no such system, we just projected our voices…born to the stage. Our family could have a full conversation two stories apart (with at least one tv on and some Bowie blasting) and…not miss a word.
When we got pregnant Greg very calmly asked “can we not be a yelling family”.
Well, that hasn’t worked out so well for him. We can be loud…while declaring our love and our unpleasantries. I am kind of over it, I plead, let’s stop…but I created it, so I am learning to walk away, don’t fan the flames.
Every spring, windows open, I think…this must either be very entertaining or worrisome for the neighbors. It’s all good. We are who we are, and at least we eat dinner together. Small wins. Swoon.