Thursday, June 28, 2012

Family Dynamic

As promised, and in keeping with the family theme, I'm back with yet another Thirty Things post. Rather than focusing on the parents, this time we're focusing on the whole entire family.

Before we dive into the question, let me introduce you to my family....

First we have my Dad's side of the family. From left to right, you have my little brother, my dad, and then me. On the far right is my half-sister (from my dad's first marriage) and her two boys. Although she's my half-sister, I've always considered her a "full" sister because she's always been in my life.

And then we have the rest of the family. Well, sort of. My mom and stepdad weren't included in this picture. But, you'll recognize me (of course!), my brother, half-sister, and her two kids from the first picture. On the left is my stepsister and one of my stepbrothers (my other stepbrother and his four kids couldn't make it to the wedding). And scattered amongst everyone are their children. I should probably point out that my little brother does not have any kids of his own; he's holding my stepbrother's youngest.

Now that you've been familiarized with my crazy blended family, I think it's time to address the original question about how our family dynamic has changed over time. Because I can only speak for myself, I'll be describing the dynamic as I saw it and as it applied to me. I'm sure my siblings and parents might describe it differently than I do, but that's okay.
  • I played the middle man a lot between my mom and dad. Planning visitations. Relaying messages from one to the other. Trying to maintain a happy balance between Dad and Paul.
  • There was always lots of jealousy and arguing amongst my parents. Jealousy between Dad and Paul on many different levels. And of course, any time you have blended families, there's going to be differences in opinions on how children should be raised. Thus the arguing.
  • My brother and I got along as well as anyone would expect from a brother and sister. Me being the oldest, I always tried to "mommy" him and take care of him. Some might even say I tried to boss him around. Who am I kidding? I bossed him around. He of course liked to do the opposite of everything I told him. But again, what else would you expect?
  • My half-sister and I have always gotten along fairly well. There is a 6 year age gap between the two of us. But that never really seemed to matter. We didn't spend a whole lot of time growing up together - she always lived with her mom or our grandparents. But, whenever we spent the summers and holidays with Dad, we'd always spend time with her too. She was definitely a role model to me when I was younger.
  • My step siblings and I didn't get a long well at all. There was a lot of "them vs. us" in our family. My brother and I have always lived with my mom (and stepdad when he eventually moved in), but our step siblings came and went between Paul and their mother. So there was never a constant living arrangement. So, every time a new stepsibling came into the picture, things would be turned upside down. I think part of the problem also lied in the fact that there was such an age gap between us (there is an 8 year difference between myself and my stepsister, who is the youngest amongst her biological siblings). Granted there was an age gap between my half-sister and I, but the big difference is that she was always a part of my life - my stepsiblings really didn't enter the picture until I was maybe 10 years old.
  • I don't have to play middle man between my parents anymore. They're actually relatively civil now to one another when they have to talk. Granted, now that all of us kids are older, there is rarely an occasion where they need to talk. But, for my wedding everything was very cordial. And even now when dealing with my little brother's living situation, my parents have been able to handle things like adults.
  • My mom and I get a long better now that we don't have all the family drama in the way. For the most part my mom and I were always on the same side and of the same opinion. However, drama tends to put strain on any relationship.
  • My brother and I are civil to one another. He's done a lot of things in the past that has led to a lack of trust. I'm trying to look past all of it and let him grow up and right his wrongs, but its really hard to trust him again. The older he's gotten, the worse his temper has gotten, and it's simply just too hard to talk to him anymore.
  • The relationship between my half-sister and I has remained relatively the same. She made some bad decisions in her past as well, but she's learned from them and has rebuilt her life. I'm so proud of the way her life has turned out and the mother she has become to her two boys.
  • I get along really well with my step sister. She and I can hang out and do things together without arguing anymore. I feel like we've both grown up and moved past all of the childish things we use to argue about. I just wish we had done that a lot sooner; I feel like we missed a lot growing up hating each other.
  • My two step brothers on the other hand.... I don't talk to them. Period. For many reasons. Too many to get into. One brother lives in California, so I don't really have to talk to him or see him very often. The other one that lives locally - I only see him if we're having some sort of family function at my parents. and even then, I'm civil and I try to avoid talking to him or his family. He's done and said a lot of insulting things over the years and has never apologized. I try not to hold a grudge against him. But, I've resolved that I'm not going to put myself in a position to be insulted or hurt again.

Well, there you have it. An in depth look into my family. Rereading everything, it's probably more than I really should share over the internet. But, I don't want to pretend like I came from some sort of perfect family. I felt like this was one of those posts where "keeping it real" was better than giving you some "prettied up" version.

So forgive me if this is getting too personal, but what is your family like? Do you get along better now than you did years ago? Or do you wish things would go back to how they use to be? Or maybe you came from a Leave It To Beaver family? It's okay, sometimes I like to pretend like I did too. :)

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