imagesFamily is a strange thing.

We all have families.

Whether we’re talking about the families we were born with, or the families we make, they’re a strange hodgepodge of men, women, children, aunts, uncles, in-laws and often, ex’s of one kind or another.

My family is so convoluted that for me to explain it, I need a score card, white board and powerpoint presentation.

I’ve got step parents, step siblings, half brothers, half sisters, and other things in between. God knows, the divorces and marriages propagate the complexity.

I laugh when people on the right talk about the “Sanctity of Marriage”, as a reason to deny gay people the right to marry. I can only ask WTF? Almost without exception all those Sanctity of marriage idiots are multiple divorcees. I suppose that makes them sanctimonious, but not necessarily defenders of the institution of marriage.

UnknownWhen those same people talk about a “Nuclear family” being the best family to raise children in, I blow whatever I’m drinking out my nose.

Sure, kids would probably be better off having a single set of parents who looked and behaved like Ward and June Cleaver, but that family model is very rare and has been even since “Leave It to Beaver” was being beamed into our homes weekly.

As a child of “broken” home I can tell you all that matters is the child knows that they’re loved. Hey, it worked for me it worked for my half brother & half sister, and It worked for my step sisters and step brothers.

Why have I been thinking about family?

I’m at my Mom’s house. She called me and asked for help with my stepdad. He’d been in the hospital since before Christmas.

When he came home, his needs and the needs of the household finally got to a point that my mom said “Hey, I can’t handle all this.”

She was right, cleaning the house, maintaining the pool, dealing with the yard, and doing routine maintenance & repairs are overwhelming me and I don’t have problems getting around.  I don’t have a bad hip,  knees, and somewhat demanding husband to contend with.

I’m glad she called me and I’m glad I came.

My mom deserves better than having all this on her shoulders in her retirement.

My step dad doesn’t mean to be difficult, I can see that he’s trying not to be. But a lifetime of ordering people around, ignoring other people’s feedback or needs, and assuming that his word on the matter however incorrect is blessed by god, is a hard thing to change.

He doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of doctors orders and “HOME BOUND”, nor does he appear to understand things like some of the drugs he’s taking may react with citrus rendering the drugs ineffective.

How about controlling the intake of sugar since he’s diabetic?  For him, he’s alive and the doctors don’t know what they’re talking about. Even though those doctors pulled him back two or three times, from circling the drain known as death.

He’d rather do things his way and then blame others if he doesn’t get better.

And damn! He does like to give orders!

“I want my breakfast now, I want my coffee, where’s my iced tea? bring me this, that and the other thing.”

All these orders are issued with the expectation that his wishes be fulfilled immediately. And all commands are issued only after he’s seen that you’ve settled down with your own meal, or are trying to get some work or research done.

Now I find myself teaching him to live with disappointment. If he asks nicely he gets what he wants fast. If he demands well he’ll get what he wants eventually.

God help you, if  you delay making his wish come true because you took time to wash your hands after cleaning the cat box, before making his breakfast or delivering his coffee.

This isn’t new; he’s always been this way. It’s not been until now that I’ve realized just how much his demanding ways influenced me, and how my reaction to people ordering me around has it’s roots here.

Go on, order me to do something and watch what happens!

I’ve also come to realize that my reaction to someone ordering me around might be a tad disproportionate to the situation. Cool, now that i understand why I become a lunatic I can work at changing my response.

As I’ve been observing the dynamic here, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m often just as guilty of ordering people around. I need to change that about myself. The days when I’m infirm may not be too far off and when they come, I don’t want to be a dick

My family & I have had some rocky times. I guess it’s part of the reason I put 3000 miles between me & them.

It’s not that I don’t love them, it’s that i needed to be my own person and I didn’t want to be second guessed at every turn by people that I often didn’t agree with.

That’s putting the situation politely.

I always felt talked down to, and my opinions were dismissed out of hand.

When opportunity presented itself for me to extricate myself and go create my own family. I jumped at the  that opportunity and honestly, didn’t spend much time looking back.

Over the years, I spent time with the family, mostly to make my mom happy. I could suck it up for 10 days or so. I always felt a great feeling of relief getting on the plane to return home.

It’s not about love, or the lack thereof, it’s about respect.