Let’s just start by saying, if you don’t have challenges in your family, you are wrong… you do. Everyone does. The only way to get through life is with family, or people you might consider your family, and the fact of the matter is… families are challenging. Am I being too politically correct by using the word “challenge” and not just calling a spade a spade?
The first thing that I’d like to explore during this topic is sports. I am from New England. My husband is from New York. There lies a “challenge” in itself, but then throw in the New Yorker complex, where more is better, and add a 2nd or 3rd team for all major sports: baseball, football, hockey and basketball. Really?? (I just thought it was baseball and football that had multiple teams, until I did a quick little google search for “why NY needs 2 or 3 of everything”). New York is not that big, it’s really not, look at a map. New England is made up of 6 small states, but is 20,000 square miles larger than New York state and there is only ONE baseball team, ONE football team, ONE basketball team and count ’em ONE hockey team. So amongst any given New York family, you’ve got constant rivalry. Throw in a homegirl from New England and look what you’ve got…
My dad’s speech at our wedding was actually based on the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry. It was pretty funny. A moment I will always treasure. He opened up by saying that I will do ok among a bunch of New York fans because I had to grow up with one in our house (my mom’s “lifer” Bobby is a random Yankees fan – he lived in Albany for like the first year of his life… that’s some serious patronage to the home land).
During this current football post-season Casey and I have been keeping it light and betting on who will win the games. We tied last weekend. I got the Pats and the 49ers and he had the Giants and the Ravens. TIP #1: Throwing fun little bets into any situation that could potentially contain “challenging” material is a great way to keep it light with the fam.
The next area I’d like to explore is the Art of the In-Law. This is an inevitable part of life. If you get married, you will have in-laws. Some will have more than others. Even if you don’t get married, but you have siblings, you’ll likely obtain in-laws. I call it an art because it is. (I know – I am so profound.) To learn how to accept your partner’s habits, ways and means is a “challenge” in itself. To learn how to accept the extension of your spouse is a feat of great magnitude. This new family is not very likely to be like your own flesh and blood, but this is a good way to broaden your horizons and try new things. The Art of the In-Law is the ability to accept those you love for who they are. TIP #2: You love your spouse for a reason or two, so remember that your in-laws likely made him to be the person whom you love and you can thank them for that.
As you now know, my husband’s family is from New York. Their volume is a little higher than what my family’s volume was on a day to day basis growing up. But it’s ok, because I can get loud, I can get opinionated, and I can merrily join in with the best of them when the occasion arises. Plus, for all of my seriousness and quiet-time, I can always use a little more action. When I first showed up on the Canevari front, it was said that I could “hold my own” with them. That was important, because if I was to take the Canevari name, I had to be able to fit in!
Now, don’t forget about the other type of in-law… the brother or sister-in-law. I get along great with my 2 brothers-in-law. They are really wonderful, warm-hearted individuals. But as you do the math, you’ll realize that my mother-in-law has 3 BOYS. And at the moment she only has 1 daughter-in-law (yours truly). Can you imagine having THREE daughters-in-law? Yowser!
Welcoming the spouse of your brother or sister can be tough, especially if it is before you yourself have the opportunity to become an in-law. It is hard for a sibling to understand this new relationship with a person that eats up your beloved family-member’s time, and who is perceived to be possibly changing your sibling. Before going through it yourself, you don’t understand that a spouse doesn’t change you, they enhance you. Lifestyle changes can be hard to accept, especially when this new person in your sibling’s life and family is different from that of your own. But your sibling’s new life is what makes them happy and that is all that matters. I have 1 brother and 1 sister-in-law and it wasn’t always smooth sailing. But over time, and through many uphill battles, everyone came to accept one another.
There are plenty other things that create challenges in family. I hesitate to get too “heavy” so I’ll keep it short. Divorce is probably on the top of the list. I went through a divorce when I was 9 years old. It wasn’t too bad for me at that age, but it was much heavier for my brother who is 2 years older than me. Now having 2 children of my own, I can’t imagine our lives if we got divorced. The thought of not spending every day and night together with my kids makes my stomach churn. It gives me some serious perspective into my parent’s lives, and it makes me think twice about picking a fight over dirty laundry or a tv station. I am glad that my parent’s separated because I truly believe that they were not meant to be together. I believe they are better people separate and I love that I get to spend time with them individually. I often refer to their divorce as the “perfect divorce” which is a complete oxymoron. But in this case, I couldn’t be happier for the outcome. Except…
That brings me to a whole other topic… Holidays! How on earth are you supposed to keep up with your entire family on the holidays? Here’s a list of “challenges” that we face with our family during the holidays:
- We live in Florida and our parents live in NY, NH and MA
- Flights are expensive
- Driving with 2 toddlers is a nightmare
- Everyone drinks too much
- Everyone buys too much
- Everyone eats too much
- Ahhh, forget the list… just read ‘Tis the Season!
Family… we miss them when they’re gone… we can’t wait till they go home… and we love them through thick, thin, up, down and all around. We can’t live without them, and we need them no matter how hard we try not to!!