Living in the shadow of perfection

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-2003
Living in the shadow of perfection
Mon, 12-22-2003 - 3:07pm
Somehow it's comforting to see that I'm not the only one whose family goes a little insane at Christmastime. It really does bring out old hurts and resentment, when that's the last thing it should do! I guess I'm as guilty as anyone.

For years, my brother and his family have been the stars of the "show." I've always been told that there is no room for us to spend the night in the house. My brother's family gets to stay because they "have children and come from out of town." They drive about an hour and a half farther than I do. My mom claims she has always told me that I am welcome to sleep on the floor (my brother's kids are too good to sleep on the floor) but the truth is, I've offered to do that in years past and she has said it would be too crowded. This has been going on for 15 years. My husband's parents do not have a big nice house on a golf course like my parents do. They don't even have much floor space but we are always welcome. The only problem is, it really is uncomfortable there and they only have one bathroom. So my husband and I (no kids, part of the reason for our second-class status) end up doing a marathon, driving an hour and a half to one town for a few hours, then jumping in the car and driving an hour and a half to another town, then driving another hour and a half back home. We end up arguing over who has more time with their own family and sometimes we just take separate cars so we can leave whenever we want and spend just a little time with the inlaws. My sister gets the same treatment I do, but for her it's not as much of a hardship since her husband does not care to spend time with his own family at Christmas (I guess his problems are worse than mine).

Well, this year my dad has prostate cancer and he just had surgery for a nonmalignant growth near his prostate -- had to be removed before he could start radiation. I am buying presents for them to give each other since their shopping was cut short, but it looks like Mother will not arrange the schedule so that I can be there to see them unwrap the gifts. It would be too much of a hardship on my dear brother, who didn't show up for the surgery or even call to see if Dad was ok. My mom had to call him. This is nothing new. I once asked her to wait 45 minutes to open the gifts so I could get there but she refused because "the children shouldn't have to wait." (The youngest was 10 years old at the time.

Sometimes I wonder if my mom is punishing me because I have a career instead of children. It isn't exactly by choice. For years I was on medication for my stomach and could not try to get pregnant. Now I'm doing better and have switched to a different medicine but I'm 39 and we have been trying with no luck. I love my work and would not give it up even if I could. And I can't afford to even if I wanted to.

Well I guess I'm being petty. But one of the highlights of my year is opening the gifts with my family. It is probably the most fun we ever manage to have together. I will probably just end up doing the best I can. I already argued with my mom and I could tell she and Dad were getting upset so I canned it. I guess some things never change.

Even if I were able to get pregnant now, I know my child could never live up to my brother's perfect kids. I guess I just wanted to get it off my chest. But if you have anything encouraging to say, feel free. I could use it! Thanks and Merry Christmas anyway because life is short!
Avatar for lucy4980
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 12-22-2003 - 7:32pm
I don't know that I have any advice or anything, I just wanted to send some hugs and say Merry Christmas. I don't know why some parents act the way they do - favoring one child over the others. But I guess sometimes that's the way it is. Maybe the only thing to do is groan and roll your eyes? I would think that the most important thing would be for you and your husband to be on good terms with each other about the holidays.

Instead of driving so far in 1 day, could you do something like Christmas eve with one side of the family, stay at a hotel in the middle, and then Christmas day with the other side? That's kind of what my husband and I are doing this year. We are driving 2 hours to my BIL's house, spending Christmas Eve with them, then driving an hour to near where my Grandparents live, and staying in a hotel. There are too many people at my grandparents' house already and I prefer to have my own space anyway. We will go to my grandparents' house for Christmas day, spend the night at the hotel again and then head home the next day. It makes for a pretty relaxing trip since we will be able to see both families, and not have too much driving on any one day. And DH and I get a couple nights at a hotel - maybe some romance?