My family is far from perfect. We have our own garden variety dysfunctions—communication issues; some lingering, outdated ideas in some members of the elder generation that frustrate some of us in the younger; a predilection for sending members off on guilt trips—but those issues have settled in and become part of our big family. That is, I think we are all pretty aware that it is exactly how we function. We gingerly maneuver over and through these obstacles that litter open and honest love. And we do love each other. Relatively peacefully. With lots of laughter and fond memories, respect for and appreciation of the multigenerational extended family that gathers still for every holiday, we are a big happy family.
I was reminded of how fortunate I am to have this relatively peaceful family when I was at the pool the other day and a young woman, a guest of someone in my complex, came into the pool area with her two boys—one around 12, one 3 (not yet potty trained). For the entire time she was at the pool, she accosted someone on her cell phone. It didn’t qualify as a conversation because it was a whole lot of screaming and excessive dropping of F-bombs. Tell that f*cking wh*re he’s my f*cking husband and she needs to get the f*ck out of my f*cking house! Even I, Queen of Expletives, was offended. But mostly, how my heart broke for those boys, especially the older one who was old enough to understand, who was left to take care of his little brother (half brother, it appeared) while his mother went on like a lunatic and pretend everything was okay…when, really, it was hideous. Eventually, she grabbed the younger boy who had stepped out of the water when she barked at him to, and told the older one she was taking his brother to feed him some lunch.
“Will you make me a sandwich too?” he asked.
“We’ll have to get take out or something later,” she snapped back and hurried off. In other words, no.
It haunted me, haunts me still. I wonder if the older boy ate lunch that day. I wonder if every day is like this for them. I wonder if those boys will ever know love without chaos.
The craziness in my life is sane, I realized. I am fortunate that I have never had to live with this kind of chaos. So much so that I will happily pack my own bags for my next guilt trip.