It’s Monday…

…and I still am not sure what I am going to talk about today. It is a tad frightening to sit before a blank screen and just randomly fill it with information. But, when all else fails, I’ll just write as if I’m talking to you about stuff.

We went to visit my mom this weekend. Since we both have February birthdays my brother and his family and my family generally converge on our mom’s house sometime in February to celebrate. This year, there were many conflicts in scheduling so it was the first weekend in March before we could all be together.

Here is my birthday haul.

Outside of wool and all the necessary tools required to make yarn then make stuff with the yarn, these represent my favorite things. Vintage dishes, magazines, earrings, books, cool drink ware – especially when the decorations are created just for me – note pads, and anything related to vintage travel trailers. I don’t own one, but I’m sure trying to figure out a way to make it happen! Also notice the cover of In Her Studio – a mobile fiber art studio would be so amazing. I could travel to shows and carry my work with me. So many dreams, so little time and money.

By comparison, mom didn’t get nearly so much stuff. Her Christmas gift was a greenhouse so that also counts as birthday and Mother’s Day this year. That was from my brother’s side of the family, along with the labor of putting it together. From us she got a wood cart/work table for her new little plant house. All in all a very lovely celebration.

Family Dynamics

Families are funny entities. In many ways they are each a small bureaucracy. What is a bureaucracy? In its basic form, it is something that involves a lot of complicated rules, details and processes. An intact biological family really doesn’t realize how complicated of an organism they really are. I suggest that the given definition of bureaucracy could be applied to all families, and all of them function about as well as expected. And then something happens to shake up the status quo.

Have you every asked a bureaucrat to do something a different way? I rest my case.

Children learn the nuances and all the spoken and unspoken rules as they are growing up. No one stops to analyze why things are done a certain way, or even that they are done a certain way. It is what it is…to quote an over used modern phrase. As the family changes through marriage, divorce or death, new people are often introduced into the inner sanctum of the family unit.

We’ve all been there. It starts with pleasantries, and everyone is on their best behavior and guarded. As that guard wears down and things happen that are not part of the usual family flow, a little heat starts simmering. If not addressed things get worse then all the familial peculiarities begin to rise to the surface.

It reminds me of making a “clean out the refrigerator vegetable soup.” A little of this and that carefully blended and seasoned makes for a beautiful and tasty meal. But if left untended, the soup gets too hot; as it boils air bubbles fester until they finally rise to the surface. Stir the soup and the bubbles go away, but everything is still hot. You have to turn the heat off to let things cool down. Then it must be gently ladled it into a bowl so that each person can receive the nourishment. Sometimes we need to go to our own corners to rest and think, then come back together with a different perspective as we care for those ornery folks we call family.

If the original family members are not ready, the integration of the new folks into the fold can be awkward at best, painfully divisive at worst. In the past year and a half my nuclear family has undergone this process. It has been…eye opening.

The three primary adults (adult children do not count at this point, nor does a spouse) discovered dysfunctional patterns of behavior that we had just learned to work around. The initial introduction of a third woman into this mix of mother, son and sister was, a bit tense at first. Naturally protective, we We all took several wrong turns trying to navigate this new path.

With time and work on everyone’s part, the communication got better, we learned more about one another, and all the rules of the organization became clear to the new member. The process of working together for the betterment of the group didn’t so daunting anymore.

On this visit, we were all relaxed and just had fun. And now that we are adding another new member to the group – a husband for my niece and son-in-law for my brother – the transition into the Perkins Family Bureaucracy will go much smoother. As with other additions this one brings new challenges and learning opportunities. I now have faith we have learned and grown together so that we will tackle any hurdles the future holds for us. We are stronger and better than before.

So now, this is how I think of my nuclear family.

Mom is at the top and then each of us represented by a color that reflects the individual. We are all different, touching each other’s lives in special and unique ways. It isn’t always smooth sailing but we know that no matter what, we have each other to lean on. Welcome to the Perkins fold. For better or worse, you are part of the family.

Until tomorrow…keep looking up, embrace today and go find some fun!

Sheryl

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