Ah, finally. I am (finally) home, with my husband, and my dog, and my calm and wonderful life. Until this most recent sojurn East - and the longest period of time spent with my parents, brother and his family for...a long time - I did not realize just how much we had made our own life out here in the middle of nowhere.
Seriously - I always thought that my life was pretty much a mirror of my mother's. At least, I always thought that about our home life. I do a lot of the "indoor" chores, my lovely husband does many of the outdoor things - similar to the way my parents split chores. We (my mother and I) clean regularly - do wash regularly - have high-ish standards for the appearance of our homes. Etc.
But now? Having spent a week+ with them, and my brother and his family? I can safely say that we live very differently from the rest of my family.
I am kind of glad that N wasn't with us for the week (he was only there for the cousin's wedding the first weekend) - because he probably would have died a little bit each day.
It was bad enough that we shared a room (a "suite") with my parents the night of the wedding. That deserves its own post. The next week, my parents very nicely treated us to a week at the shore - something that N and I, certainly, will not be able to afford for many many years. And I'm not saying I don't appreciate their treat.
But the sharing of the bathrooms - and other personal space - and kitchen. The mess. And the noise. And the people. And...good grief. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed our quiet lives - our adult conversations and our calm and peaceful home. Not to mention our clean bathroom (even when it needs to be cleaned, it's tidy), and our peaceful evenings.
I also didn't realize just how much I disagreed with my brother and sister in law's childrearing practices. I saw our niece and nephew much more frequently when they were babies - and they were sweet, adorable, funny, biddable babies. (Tangent...what a funny word, "biddable". But anyway...) Now? Now they are 5 and 7 and my god...I am really glad they are not my kids.They don't listen. They laugh when asked to stop something irritating and/or dangerous. They yell. They say "It's not fair" constantly. I know a lot of it is developmental...but at the same time? A lot of it is a lack of discipline and structure. I knew my brother and sister in law were "unstructured" in their parenting - and I always thought that the kids would turn out just fine regardless. But now? I'm not so sure.
And this time? All of this hit me a lot harder than it has in the past. I think the whole infertility thing - the realization that we are not going to have biological children of our own - made it all worse. I used to think - well, at least we (N and I) will raise our child(ren) differently. At least we will make different parenting decisions. But now? We will not have that opportunity. And the closeness I felt with my niece and nephew has pretty much evaporated. Part of that is distance - and time - and their ages. But part of it? Is that I don't really want to spend as much time with them. I get stressed out - and I don't enjoy it. And that is an awful, awful thing to say (which is why I am saying it here). I always thought I'd be the fun auntie. But until they get a bit older - or a bit better-behaved - I will have a hard time being the fun one.
If someone is reading this - I know that there are people who will say that I don't *have* children of my own, and I *can't* make these kind of judgments about other peoples' kids, because I'm not in their shoes. To them? I would say that I observed these kids fairly regularly for the first four years of their lives - we're talking at least monthly. And I know parenting styles - even if I am not a parent myself. I also know child development. I have spent my professional life around children from birth to 22. And I know that these kids? Are not being raised the way I would raise a child...nor do they act the way I would expect a child of school age to act. And how very frustrating that is - knowing that I will not have that chance. Knowing that the next generation will not include OUR child...