Monday, September 27, 2010

A Family of Families

Are you a hopeful person?  I am.  That's got upsides, like a generally optimistic outlook, and embarrassing consequences, like two failed home businesses.  One of which was when I attempted to sell Halon Fire Extinguishers... let's just say that I'm a much better Internet researcher now than I was then. 


I get my hopes up.  I want to believe things people tell me.  So when the pastor yesterday talked about our church, a group of people following Jesus, becoming more and more like "A Family of Families."  It made me cry.  I thought about all of the times in the last 4 years since our first child was born that I desperately wanted to live near my family.  I need help and the closest family we have is my in-laws who are in and out of town because they are RVers. 

So I started imagining what it would look like to be in A Family of Families

I'd like to be the 50's Housewife of the Family in the kitchen baking and serving up yummy meals surrounded by perfectly dressed children and a clean house.  I'd like my calendar to be full... 4 of 7 nights with guests or being a guest works for me.  I'd like to help if someone is sick or just had a baby.  And yes, I'd wear an apron to do it all. 

Then reality set in. 

What if it's like in-laws?   

Please don't misunderstand, my in-laws are amazing people.  I sincerely love them.  And yet, they're still in-laws.  For example, their version of helping isn't necessarily what I consider helpful.  So, instead of Holidays being relaxing times of rejoicing together, I have panic attacks... really, I had a panic attack last fall because my husband invited his parents for dinner last minute without consulting me.  It took me an hour to come inside and I had to go to the store to buy bread to go with the cold dinner because I couldn't think of a better excuse for being unable to just share a meal.

That's the problem.  I desperately want to be in A Family of Families, but it takes a while before in-laws are as close as your own parents and siblings.  I'm sure everyone's experience is different, but as for me, I don't know how to really let people in.  I don't mind if folks see me with my make-up on and a smile (sometimes fake, mostly real) on Sunday mornings.  But if someone stops by on Monday afternoon (like today), I might have a problem if they were to see me lash out at my kids for not napping or that I'm completely overwhelmed with my life and that I'm running on "E". 

My Family might see all of me
instead of the version of me I allow them to see. 

Instead of getting to be the Betty Crocker of the Family, it's more likely that I'd be the crazy aunt.  You know me, Auntie Momma Drama, the volatile one who drinks too much.  I'm much more likely to blubber on the phone saying, "I've got groceries to put away, a dirty house, laundry out my ears, an obligation tonight, 4 children who won't nap, another obligation tomorrow morning, out-of-town guests early tomorrow afternoon, and the recession didn't end last June... HELP."  (BTW, "help" is pronounced "heh-yulp"... it's a two syllable word where I come from.)

What scares me, too, is that I can't control the help My Family of Families would offer.  I'm sure someone would offer to come do my laundry while I manage my children, but then they'd see my underwear.  I'm sure someone else would offer to take my kids, but my kids might jump on the couches or scream about a toy... my children are loud.  Maybe someone would offer to bring dinner so I have one less thing.  And then, the worst could happen: someone might just say, "Stop blogging and get busy."  No matter what they offer, I hate asking for help... remember, I don't want anyone to see all of me

I wish I knew what to expect so I could either sign up and get my hands dirty - or - run for the hills.  But I have no bloomin' idea what A Family of Families looks like in practice.

Then again, I'm hopeful... maybe The Family won't always be in-laws. 

I'd love some feedback:  Are you in A Family of Families?  Who are you in that Family?  (Remember, I'm the crazy aunt.)  Are you looking for a Family?  Or are you as apprehensive as I am?


  1. Um, yes? To all of it?

    We transplants - Southern or otherwise - do have an issue in building our homes-away-from-"home". I, too, have troubles letting people in - yes, i'm an extrovert but find it hard to move beyond superficial friendships. I think that's a common thread with everyone - as i tell my introvert husband, we gotta start somewhere. If we want to build a community of people whose values we share (and whom we trust to be around our offspring), we need to get out there! I'm impatient and want BFFs overnight but am practical enough to know it takes time.

    Vulnerability, though, doesn't come easy to me. And that's what you need when you put yourself out there to others - it's scary because you might get rejected. We've lived here 10 years but have made most of our friends since Quinn was born (5.5 years ago) - slowly but surely, i'm loving the group of people i've found.

    But you're right in that it's just not the same. I love it here and it's become our Home but i, too, wish our friends and family weren't so far away.

    PS - "Heh-yulp". Snicker.

    PPS - I don't know who i am. The loud mouth, snarky know-it-all? Who is also something of a peacemaker?

  2. Thank you for putting into words what is felt in my heart but could never make it out. We moved here just over 2 years ago and I have been so bitter about it just wanting to get back HOME and not wanting to make the HUGE effort to make friends here. But since the Lord has us here another year and we don't know how many more years He will keep us here, I have decided that we just can't do this alone. So I decided that I would make an effort to get to know people and build a family of friends here. Well, ever since I made the decision Satan has tried to discourage me. So the sermon touched me as well but even still, I don't know where or how to begin. But I am trusting the Lord to lead me on this adventure! :)

  3. I love that your the crazy Aunt! Your work hard to get it all done, but Clara you aren't perfect and neither are your friends and family.

    You Edges definately have a wall around you and as your Daddy would say... "You got it honest!" I'm still working on cracking down your Mom's wall and given a lifetime of memories together, I hope you'll let yours down for me too :)

    As for me, I am an open book. I let you in very easily and I give like there is no tomorrow. But my faults are that I have almost equally high expectations of others (almost unrealistic) that frequently disappoint me and I have a hard time forgiving.

    Having family nearby is a wonderful thing, but when you live away from family, you can't and don't want to go at it alone.

    The imperfections are what make people so beautiful... And people grow more and more lovely with time and mistakes (no matter what your laundry looks like or how loud your kids cry).

    Oh, and the 50s housewife only exists on TV shows. 50s mothers hated their lives and more that likely did not vaccuum in pearls :)

    I think that having a family of families is a wonderful idea. Kindof like what you had when you were growing up. The Spraggins/Gibsons bunch. Bottom line, don't be afraid to nock down that wall. You let in some wonderful people now and then :)

    I'm still looking for my family of families in SA. My only family of families is my Jen and she's in Houston! So if you find the secret to success, share it with me.

    Love you!!!

  4. Oh boy, yes to it all. I wasn't kidding when I said my house was dirty. I'm embarrassed for anyone to do my laundry because they will see and invariably comment on the holes in my underwear and socks.
    I hate to ask for help, and yes-at times it feels like everyone wants to help in all the wrong ways.
    I'm always terrified that if someone sees my house in its "natural" state they won't come back. (And some haven't this year)
    I'm also terrible at entertaining, but I love to have people over. I say you and I have a pajama party.
    The rules are that neither of us will take a shower or put make-up on. Oh, and I have a swing in my living room so the kids can swing on it and jump all around.
    I'm sorry I can't be a better help right now! I feel like such an epic failure having only one child and being so easily overwhelmed but hey, I guess I've just got lots of "opportunity" is the catch phrase.
    I think a family of families is a great idea.