Going Home Part II

In just under four months, I am excited to say that I will be briefly returning to Chicago again, this time to watch the first session of the Laver Cup and to see the White Sox play the Cubs on the Southside.  What a surprise it was when Brother invited me to join him and his best buddy for some tennis and some baseball! 

The trip I took in March brought out a lot of feelings. I had, honestly, avoided going back to Chicago because of the conflicted relationship my parents have and because out of sight, out of mind is much easier than to admit to feelings. I admit, I was pleasantly surprised to have any stretch of time during which my parents got along in my presence; sadly it was short-lived. Though most of the news focuses on the bad things about Chicago and I myself spent a good amount of time voicing my displeasure with the politics and policies of the city and Illinois, It was tough to see all of the places I missed. Watching around downtown Chicago is awesome, with many great places to eat, things to do, and just seeing the buildings. I am truly grateful for the time I had to enjoy the city and to see my parents acting like people, instead of people that hate each other. It was also great to see a dear friend with whom I used to work and to chat with her for a few hours on my last day in Chicago.

I living in Central Texas for many reasons, but the food is not one of them. Many people think that food in the greater Austin area is great, and I beg to differ. To each his own. Also, there are some cool places and attractions in the greater Austin area, but Austin’s downtown is not on par with any of the major cities. You have to go to specific areas if you want shopping, movies, and other activities, and this is not just because it is still a growing city, but rather the way it has evolved. It is my personal belief as well that too many people in the  greater Austin area have a slacker mentality, lacking integrity and much urgency about anything. Obviously we have found enough to like about living in Central Texas that we have stayed for almost five years and bought a house, but one of the best trade-offs is the weather and not having to shovel snow as we did in Chicago.  We both prefer the sun and heat over snow and cold. 

Anyhow, I looking forward to not only seeing parents (we are all going to see tennis together), but my brother and his friend, and that we will get to enjoy our hometown together for the first time in five years.  It’ll be good!

 

 

 

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Being the adult child of parents who don’t get along….

I am forty years old, and I cannot remember a time when my parents got along for more than a short time. I imagine my parents must have been happy together at some point, but not in years. I can handle that I have my own life and that my parents have their lives, and that we all make our own choices. They are both good people in their own ways and they often mean well and yet they bring out the worst in each other. It is hard to hard to watch and to hear on almost every phone call.

They did the best they could as parents, each with their own style. I could count on my father to drive me to far away tennis tournaments and to help me with complex homework assignments, while I could count on my mother for encouragement, a laugh, dinner, or to take me to local tennis tournaments or other activities. My father was the strict one; my mother was more lenient but ruled with a look or a quick comment rather than loud, harsh language. I learned a lot from both of them over the years, good and bad, just as I will always have memories of them good and bad. I’m sure that it is the same for them with me and my brother, like all families. Brother and I are both happy, and we wish they would choose to be happy together or apart.

In the three years before I moved to Texas, I started visiting my parents separately because a visit with both of them was either extremely uncomfortable or ended with an argument. My father is loud and verbally aggressive and my mother is passive aggressive, which doesn’t end quietly. I would visit my father while my mother was at church or shopping and I would plan lunch with my mother on a weekday. Did I mention that I have been suggesting divorce to them since I was 12? I don’t know that either of them could live without the daily chaos after all of these years, or that they could afford to separate the house, assets, SSI, etc. There are a lot of things my mother would not be able to manage, and my father has a few health issues, which further complicates this situation. It’s sad to know that both of my parents will live unhappily until their last days.

Even my brother’s wedding weekend, which should have been a joyous and fun occasion, was not without drama. First, my brother and I had to practically beg our parents to hang out with them for a little while before he and I went to the Yankees game and, once we did meet up with the parents at their hotel, my father flopped around on his twin bed when he got upset with my mother or got annoyed with the conversation no less than three times. Other drama included miscommunication with my brother and mother on wedding day, which resulted in me getting cussed and yelled at. I mostly enjoyed the weekend because I spent limited time with my parents, I did what I wanted to do, and I spent most of the rehearsal dinner and reception with my brother’s friends or my extended family. Oh, and I indulged in a few drinks. I had not seen my parents in two years prior to this… go, family!

I wonder if I am the only one who limits contact with their parents because they don’t want to deal with them trash-talking each other worse than NBA players or because they don’t want to play referee. Am I the only one who cringes a the idea of a big family holiday , anticipating a shouting match at the extended family’s home every single time.  My aunt has almost had to drive my mother home because my father got mad and began to drive away because they couldn’t agree on a time to leave. The last Christmas I was home for ended with me and Boyfriend (now Husband) leaving because we couldn’t take the arguing. We even asked them to behave so we could enjoy the dinner we had prepared for them… too much to ask. 

I have accepted that they are who they are, but I try to avoid absorbing any more of their negativity, so we probably talk 2-3x a month. For every great, enjoyable conversation with either of them, there are probably five when my father criticized the conversation in the background or texted complaints while I was on the phone with my mother. With my father, we connect well sometimes and sometimes we don’t due to the limited topics he will talk about and our different hobbies. I love to hear the good in their lives and wish I could share more with them, but it’s hard and often out of my control.

Feel free to share, if you can relate or have a method that works with families such as mine.

 

 

 

Lessons From Childhood

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt on 05/29/15: “Childhood Revisited.” Sure, you turned out pretty good, but is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?

A child is like a sponge because he or she absorbs the good and the bad around them, from kindness to meanness,  open-mindedness to racism, patience to impatience, you name it. Even though we are all born with certain genes and traits, we unknowingly observe and learn how to become people from family, friends, teachers, caretakers, neighbors, etc. Me and my dog

In my experience, I learned how to be loyal and hardworking from my parents but I also learned that staying in an unhappy relationship is ok because that’s what they did. After a few unhappy, conflicted relationships as a young adult/college student, I learned that they are wrong, and that things can get complicated. I learned that people often don’t care  or pay attention if your feelings are being hurt by other kids because “everyone gets teased.” As an adult, I have learned that people with that opinion are either narcissistic, a bully or some similar variety of maladjusted. I learned that honesty should be the best policy but sometimes can be held against you, yet you should be honest if possible so you rest with a clear conscious. I learned that you should see the best and worst-case scenarios when you dream and make plans for your future. I later learned that, if you make a plan A and a plan B, you can reach your dreams while avoiding the worst-case scenarios and still getting close to your best-case scenario… Most importantly, you should go for IT, even if it means you work your way up and out of a Podunk town to the big leagues. I learned that parents love you (ideally) and although they mean well, they are not even close to having all of the answers. You have to learn from their good example and bad example, and find positive role models to guide you if your family can’t.  I also learned a little later on that you can’t choose your family, and sometimes you need to keep your distance if they are unhealthy, toxic and detrimental to your freedom and well-being. Chrellie with  Brother and Paternal Grandparents

I wish that I would have embraced my differences and that I would have realized that I was the special kid that my paternal grandparents told me that I was. I sometimes wish I would have punched just one bully from my wonderful Roman Catholic grade school because the teasing that teachers didn’t address would have stopped. I would have gladly taken the punishment. I wish I would have moved on and taken my own path sooner than I did because I held on too long to friendships that had grown apart. I am glad that I was an avid reader and writer, and that my family and paternal grandfather took us to zoos, museums, and to the Grant Park Symphony. I’m glad they taught me how, to get around Chicago. I absorbed a lot of great memories, and the rest made me the unique person I am.

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