Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Apples and Oranges

Relationship, noun. the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.

In my professional career, I'm known for being able to tackle a subject, problem, or task and define it in clear terms.  The latest buzz-word for this is "systems analysis," but I've also done it under the guise of "building ontologies," "relational database design," "information management," or the dreaded "business process engineering."  I'm a stickler for arranging information in its right "bins" and am regularly declaring at meetings that we need to make sure we've got "apples with apples and oranges with oranges."  I'm not an IT person in the least, but I like to collect, analyze and present information in a logical manner and try to understand the relationships between objects, terms, or ideas on my tasks.  It's kinda become my niche and I'm good at it.

I've been thinking a lot about the relationships in my life and my role in them.  I'm a daughter, mom, sister, wife, aunt, daughter-in-law, co-worker, friend.  For each of these myriad of relationships I have different expectations for myself and others.  Those expectations are based on the type of connection I have with that person.  I've been thinking a lot about whether or not those expectations either on my side or the other are realistic.  In my head, I've defined for myself what I want to be as a mother (and aunt).  I always feel like I'm falling short.  I have these romantic images of what I want our days to be like....fresh cooked, healthy meals on the table every night, calm bedtime routines, books to be read, games to be played, kind words and giggles wafting through the air, a tranquility and peaceful vibe.  I place the responsibility to achieve this fully on my shoulders.  But what about the other people in this relationship?  Not that I think that the kids should be perfectly behaved little robots, but I think I've been giving them a little too much slack given their difficult circumstances. They could definitely contribute to some of the peace by listening a little better and helping out a little more.

My relationship with my parents, especially my dad, is really complicated.  I'm a grown women with my own family and professional career.  Since taking E and M in our family the boundaries have blurred for my dad.  I'm not used to having him question my every move as a parent, homeowner, etc.  He even had to comment on the new computer purchase yesterday.  "Why didn't you get a Mac?"  What's difficult is that I want them to back off and give us some space and respect, but at the same time I need my mommy and daddy too.  I need them to cheer me on, hold me up when I need it, worry about me and not just the girls.  I know he is trying to help the only way he knows how.  I could just use less of the anxious grandparents and more of the plain mom and dad.  I'm trying to remember that they are grieving parents.

I expect my sisters to be the kind of sister I think I am.  I'm an orange and I expect them to be oranges too.  Maybe they are just apples and that is just the way they are.  Losing Jeanne shifted all of our longstanding relationships as sisters or in some ways revealed underlying issues that would have most likely remained hidden if the accident never happened.  I'm constantly struggling between wanting our relationships to improve and evolve or just accepting them the way they are.  Is is better to raise issues of resentment, hurt and neglect with S or just let them go and accept that S is who she is and never going to change?  Do I call out CA for all of her lying or learn to just live with it?  Which is more useful, working on me and how I react to them or address the issues head on with them, which may only lead to more hurt and distance between us?  When the boys try to blame others or make excuses for a bad behavior, I always tell them that they can only control what they do and not what others do or say.  Shouldn't it apply to adults too?

I have good friends.  I know that I do.  Things have shifted with many of my friendships.  Some have dropped away, unsure about how to handle us.  Others have stepped up in amazing ways.  I often worry that I vent to much to my friends and the conversation always goes back to our life and challenges.  I have made a point of starting off conversations asking about their life, kids, etc.  Not making it all about me.  I'm not sure how successful I am.  Some people focus solely on the girls and ask intrusive questions about their feelings, etc. (my sister-in-law being the worst).  I guess I'm still figuring out how to navigate the bigger world while treading water in this ocean of grief and anxiety.

My current problems with K epitomize this struggle.  I want him to be more.  I want him to change.  K sits on the couch watching baseball during bedtime because I let him.  I end up doing it all and then resent him for not stepping in.  That's not really fair to both of us.  I'm trying to remember that he is dealing with all of the change too.  I can't expect him to respond exactly the way I want him to.  I can imagine he wishes I would go back to the old Peg...less stressed, less tired, happier.  I know he worries about the boys.  I think it's easier for him to try to ignore it's all happening.  He didn't ask for this.  I know he wishes I was more too...stronger, more capable, more patient, calmer.  I keep thinking about the "for better or for worse" lines in our marriage vows.  I think we're both tired of the "for worse."

Lastly, my relationship with God is non-existent right now.  Yes, I go to church.  Yes, our kids all go to Catholic school.  We say grace before dinner.  I receive communion.  I talk to L about heaven and God.  But I'm just going through the motions.  I feel spiritually lost.  At the time when I thought my faith was supposed to sustain me, I find myself yearning for meaning, peace, truth and only finding a void.  I suppose I expected feelings of comfort.  A clear explanation about why bad things happen.  Nothing.  I wish with all of my heart for something.  Maybe it's there and I'm just not ready or able to see or feel it.  Regardless, I feel spiritually adrift.

I wish I could apply my professional skills to my life right now.  I wish all of my relationships fit into a nice analytic hierarchy that I could rely on to steer me through this crazy life.  Right now I'm just trying to juggle the entire fruit basket and not sure it's working too well.


  1. Excellent reflections here, Peg. I can tell you've really been thinking and working through things.

    I was lucky, my relationship with God was strengthened when we lost Hannah. To that end, I wound up in RCIA and the Church.

    However, as you well know, that's not always the case. I know many people who have struggled with their relationship with God when crap happens.

    Sister Bernice (bless her 95 year old soul) recommended a book for the women's Wednesday group at church, and my RCIA leader passed it on to me. It's entitled, "Where the Hell is God", by Richard Leonard, and I found it a fascinating, easy read. You know, because 10 million people haven't been giving you books and advice on books to read...Oh, the piles of books in my house...;o)

    However, should you ever find a spare moment with which to read (you know, when you get to the bottom of that stack of books from well-meaning friends and family), I would recommend it. :o)

  2. One-click at amazon was just completed for "Where the Hell is God." At this point, I'm willing to try anything and a recommendation from you goes a long way.

    I'm trying to make sense of everything. Maybe if I could feel successful in one of my types of relationships I'll feel better overall. It may sound silly but trying to take a more analytic approach is sometimes easier and not so painful.

    As usual, thanks Rach. You rock,

  3. Just take it one little piece at a time. As you say, if you have success in one area, it's sure to follow in the rest of your life.

    Hang in there.