Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Family Get-Togethers...Gotta Love 'em

So, as promised, I'm writing a post on some of the heartwarming moments at some family gatherings this holiday season.

Before I get too into this, I want to point out that I'm a big believer in letting things go...not holding a grudge.  I think the holidays are the perfect time to let bygones be bygones, and just enjoy the opportunity to be with family.  I'm old enough to know that when you put a large group of people together in a space normally only used by 2 or 3 people, and then add alcohol, there's going to be atleast a few things said that would have been best left in the vault.  But, like I said, I try very hard not to hold grudges.  And on top of that, I know that my husband and I are living our lives completely differently than our family members have.  We're crunchy, they're not.  And I've put in more time researching our choices than they have ever spent researching theirs (pretty sure they haven't spent one single second looking up any information to back up their opinions).  And so I can go into these family functions and normally just let their words just go in one ear and out the other.
It's only a couple of times a year I have to deal with these people...the world won't end if I have to smile and nod when every fiber of my being wants to start handing out "stupid" signs.

So, even though I am going to complain about family, I DO love them...even though they do say things that aren't very thoughtful.  I'm big enough to let it go...once I've bitched about it.  LOL

First there was the phonecall from my mom.  (Not technically a gathering, but still related to the holidays...otherwise she wouldn't have called.)
One of the first thing she asked me was "Are you still nursing that baby?"
Well, yes.  I am.  She only just turned 13 months old on Boxing Day.  I plan to go to a MINIMUM of two years, and she'll be choosing for herself when she's done.  She started solids when she was ready, she'll nurse until she wants to stop, and she'll be in my bed until she wants her own.
My mother just can't understand why I'm "still nursing [a baby that can walk]".  I think really that's her big problem with it.  The baby can walk over to me and say "bub bub" (which to her, means boob).  My mom says she thinks it's time I "stopped this silliness".
Yeah.  I'll get right on that...
(or NOT.)

She started this non-stop complaining about my breastfeeding when the baby was about 6 months old.  (It was the same with my son.)  At the time I
 told her that the baby would have to be on formula for at least another 6 months, and she'll give me the pissed off sigh, and say "Yeah, I guess." 
Why she cares so much, I just don't know.  (Maybe because I found out after a lifetime of being told she nursed my brother, that she in fact only breastfed him for 4 months, and maybe she's upset because she thinks this is a competition or something, and she's not winning?)
I give her credit for breastfeeding at all, when clearly she sees it as something that is unnecessary and just plain "silliness".

When I told her that I was still breastfeeding, she said, "When you were little I just did 'whatever', we didn't worry about things like you do now.  I guess I'm just not one of these new moms."

It's one of those things that could have just gone without saying.  Obviously she doesn't agree with 90% of the things I do, and was the total opposite kind of parent than I am with my kids.  I honestly could have lived happily without that comment...and the tone of her voice when she said "new moms" was kind of cynical.  She thinks her way was the right way, and as her child, and a parent of three, I can tell you that it was probably the best she could do considering the environment we lived in, and the childhood she had...but it was FAR from ideal.

This isn't a contest.  I'm not perfect.  I'm learning as I go too.  But the difference is that when I see a better way to do something, I can admit that the way I was doing it was NOT the best way...and then I change things; make them better.  I don't sit with the knowledge that I'm not doing things the best I can do them, and just leave it at that.

 Anyways, clearly it peeved me right off to get that call.  For the record, there's nothing she can tell me that will stop me from letting our daughter wean on her own time.  This isn't about being a new mom, or an old-school mom.  This is about what's doing what's best for my children.  Period.

The next fun time this holiday season was going to a meal with my husband's dad's side of the family.
The house they live in is big enough for a few could probably comfortably fit a small family in there.  But when you have over a dozen adults, and 5 little ones running around, it gets a bit crowded.
We showed up at 5:30pm, just like we were told to.  When we got there, it was pretty clear that everyone else had been there for quite a while.  The food was cooking, and the aunts and uncles were drinking.
As soon as we got in there,
Aunt Schoolteacher was sitting at the table (which had been moved into the livingroom), and didn't even say hello.  She just got this nasty look on her face as the kids ran past her to go and see Nana.
Whatever.  Fine.

The evening was pretty much typical for the most part.  But then, before the presents were opened, my husband and I took the kids down to the basement.  My husband's uncle...
Aunt Schoolteacher's husband...came down and they were discussing our family Dr., and the events that have taken place in our lives the last month and a half.

My husband mentioned that we have chosen not to vaccinate our children, and suddenly
Uncle changed his tone.  What was just a completely normal conversation then turned into "Why don't you vaccinate them?"  My husband told him that I've done a ton of research, and we've decided that we're not going to vaccinate them against diseases that can be prevented, treated, or that are completely safe for children to get in childhood.
"Well, I'd vaccinate them", he said.

He went on and on about how vaccines are "preventative", and that "children need to be vaccinated to be healthy".  He made sure to say atleast a dozen times that he'd vaccinate them.

I got up and left.  I'm not going to let anyone make me feel like I need to justify doing what's best for my children.  I've done years of research on this.  I'm sure
Uncle has done NONE, and so his opinion means nothing to me.

I am glad I know his opinion on the whole thing, though.  I'm glad he was a dick about it, too.  I'm glad he made it so easy for me to decide whether or not he'd be a suitable guardian for my kids.  With those words, he went from being our #1 choice as a guardian in the event of our deaths, to being stricken from the list entirely.

Anyways, after opening presents we all went back upstairs for a bit before we ate.  My son had to pee, so went upstairs by himself and used the bathroom.  When he came out of the bathroom, his pants were at his ankles, twisted.  He needed some help fixing them, and because I was sitting on the couch nursing the little one, my husband went to help.

From behind me I hear, "You'll never pass kindergarten if you take your clothes off."  I turned around to see it had been said by Aunt Schoolteacher.
I wanted to punch her.  
He didn't "take his clothes off", he had problems with getting his pants back up!  He's only 3 1/2 years happens!!!

But he hadn't heard her (he was still standing upstairs), so I let it go.  I took the higher ground...even though all I wanted to do was tell her to stfu.  We all ate, and everything was fine.

After supper everyone was talking, and the kids were still pretty excited about all the new things they'd just gotten for Christmas.  My son picked up a Thomas book that had a steering wheel on it (and about a dozen buttons that each make a noise), and ran to show Uncle Mustache [which is actually what the kids call him], across the table from Aunt Schoolteacher.  He sat for a few minutes, then got up and ran off.

At that moment,
Aunt Schoolteacher said to him "You'll never pass kindergarten if you run around!"

At this point I was IRRITATED.  I SO badly wanted to say "have another glass of wine you DICK!"

My husband was sitting across from me in the livingroom, and I just looked at him and said "I think the kids need to go home and get ready for bed."

It took us about 1/2 an hour to get everyone situated, and the presents in the van before we started loading up the kids.  While my husband and the kids'
Sweet Auntie (who is actually their 2nd cousin, but is a little older than my husband and I), packed up the van, Uncle picked up our daughters as Aunt Schoolteacher took pictures with them together.  Not one of those photos were of them with our son.  Not one.
Clear favoritism?  I think so!

If I needed a second reason to strike them from the list of potential emergency parents, that would be it.  They have no ability to understand my son, and have no interest in trying.  (He's amazing, and it's THEIR LOSS not to see that!)

Sweet Auntie
came over to our house right after this lovely get-together, and mentioned to me that she noticed how her aunt (Schoolteacher) and uncle are with the kids.  She also mentioned that she noticed that her aunt will STILL not hold the baby.  (Just recently she was offered the baby to hold, and said, "You know how I feel about babies.  I like them when they're older and I can sit on the floor with them, but I don't like holding them.")  Wonderful quality in a person, eh?  Strike three.

**If there was anything good that happened at that gathering, it was that I spoke to my MIL's daughter...a nurse.  She told me that she doesn't believe in 90% of the vaccines they give children, and that the flu shot is a waste of time and money.  She is a wonderful peaceful parent, and it's always lovely to see her!  : )

The next day, after all of this fun, we had a family gathering at the King's Buffet across town. 
My twins were tired, and refused to nap before we went.  It's pretty common knowledge that they hate the food there, so I wasn't expecting them to eat.  When we showed up, their
Other Auntie (who is actually a family friend) was there already with her fiancĂ©.  Just the way they'd sat down, my son ended up on the end of the table, on the outside...I knew it was going to be bad the second I saw it.  The baby was at the very end, and I was across from him.  

It took him about 20 minutes to get entirely bored, and then he started sliding off of his seat (he was "melting", he said...LMFAO!), and getting up and walking over to the enormous fish tank about 10 feet from his seat.
The restaurant wasn't busy, and hell, he's 3 years old.  Who cares.  No one is going to lose a limb if the boy wants to look at the fish.  But his
Other Auntie kept trying to go and drag him back...only to have him run right back over there.
So, after letting her struggle with him for a bit, I switched his seat for my seat, so he was kind of blocked in by the
FiancĂ© and the baby's highchair.  That worked for a few minutes, but he REALLY wanted to look at those fish.  So I had him climb under the table and the two of us went and looked at the fish.

Now, what's crazy here was that some of the other adults at the table with us were kind of in shock that he wouldn't just "sit still and be quiet", and that I let him get up and go look at the fish.
It seems like they have forgotten what it's like to be a kid...full of wonder, full of questions, and full of energy.  Children have this ability to find the ONE fun thing in the room and want to be part of it.  I wasn't upset in the least bit.  It kind of makes me feel good to know that my children feel free to ACT like children.  He was fascinated by those fish, and who am I to say he couldn't look at them?!

By the time everyone else was ready to leave, I had all three kids with me, looking at those fish.  We named them (all of them got the name "Spotty"), and they left happy.  THAT is what matters.  I couldn't give a flying monkey's butt if the adults at that table liked it or not.  Kids are only kids for such a short time, and it's not like they were doing anything wrong.  They were looking at fish.  That's it.

We've also had a gathering here at our house, and were to another one at my husband's Aunt's house (he has a huge family), but nothing too exciting happened at those ones.

We still need to have our Christmas thing with my was supposed to be this coming weekend, but my husband has to work, so it'll be a few weeks from now.  I'm sure THAT one will get it's own post.  My mom's house is always "exciting" say the least.  Stay tuned.  ; )

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