I am So Tired

I did one thing on Saturday and one thing on Sunday and I could have slept like the dog. I just need to make it through these two weeks and I’ll have some semblance of a vacation around Christmas.

My parents are concocting some plan for us all to go down to my brother’s house for Christmas so that his girlfriend can cook Christmas dinner for us. We’ll have to talk more about it this week, but I’m of the opinion that this simply is not going to happen. They can’t afford those kinds of groceries and it seems really grossly unfair to expect someone–again who is not related to us or legally tied to us–to make us dinner, especially without asking.

I will say, though, that I find it more interesting to watch at 40 than to live through at her age. They really, truly, do expect that some woman is just going to fucking do all the shit and that the person who has to do all the shit is a woman and is the woman least capable of telling them to go pound sand.

I felt like that when I was going through it, but I didn’t have the perspective to know if it was true.

But man, I’ll make Christmas dinner, at my house, where people who have a small child can watch that child and relax and not work any harder than they have to. And by “they” I mean “she” because that’s the truth of it.

I don’t know, I mean, I guess we’re all bags of dicks in our own ways, but my parents want something from my brother’s girlfriend (which I find irritating and uncool) which will then make them feel like they’re getting something from my brother (again, uncool, but poignant) which they are never going to get. I mean, even if she were up for it (and it’s impossible to be up for. It’s soul-crushing.), getting your emotional needs met by one person doesn’t make you feel whole with the other person.

What they want from my brother, he can’t give them.

5 thoughts on “I am So Tired

  1. You’ve written about this before, B. It strikes me as awkward, and I’m intentionally using a mild adjective here. As someone who’s always more or less been free of parental expectations, I don’t understand the feeling from either direction. What do they think they are getting out of what they think they want to happen? Why is that goal, however unattainable or undefinable, so important? The way I see it– from my ivory outhouse, of course– it’s far less traumatic and far more rewarding to just meet people where they are, or at least where they’re comfortable being met. If I can’t manage that, then I’m better off leaving them alone. Why stress myself and assault someone else?

  2. I think, in our case, it’s that we’ve been through generations of self-inflicted bullshit and every generation seems to believe that their suffering will be rewarded with everyone transformed into some ideal version of themselves and, finally, the current suffering generation will be given the care they’ve always deserved.

    My dad wants to have a good son to prove that he’s a good father.

    But to the extent that my dad was a good father, he had to make up how to be a good father, because he surely didn’t have someone to model for him how to do it.

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but I think my dad needs my brother to demonstrate love to him in certain ways so that my dad can be assured that the way he invented to be a good dad worked.

    But my brother isn’t concerned with being a good son or a good dad. My dad’s lifelong project isn’t shared by my brother. So, there’s always conflict.

    As for why we can’t all just accept each other as we are, meet each other carefully in that flawed space? I don’t know, frankly. At this point, I think my parents think that happiness is, at best, a fraud–something that happens by accident, if at all–and at worst, a sin.

    But if I had my choice between what we went through last year at Thanksgiving, where four of us sat in a hotel room and waited for my brother to decide he wanted to hang out with us while we were all bored with hurt feelings, and this year, where we just had lunch and went home and it was fine and nice, I’d much rather do it like this year.

  3. B., I like what you say about trying to have emotional needs met by another person. In a sense, it’s an essential human need: we’re social creatures. In another sense, it’s something with which each one of us must be careful. Unless it’s fully mutual– by that I mean the willingness to give and receive more than the amount given and received– then it won’t work, I think, and it’s unhealthy.

    Also, in this context I think seeking active validation for our past efforts is both unfair and a terrible investment of energy. Whether you did well or poorly by another, that other is gonna do what he’s gonna do. His actions may or may not satisfactorily reflect your perceived investment in him. It can really suck, I guess, and I can see it being a real drag for a parent of an adult offspring. Maybe the hardest part, for parent or child, is letting go of that expectation of return on investment. I suppose I’ll find out as my daughter gets older.

  4. I’m not a parent, but I think that you’re right about the necessity of letting go of the expectation of return on investment. Especially because… I mean… when my parents aren’t around, the three of us have a pretty nice time together–in part because we don’t really need anything to happen other than for everyone to show up and not be too irritating.

    I think my parents would have a better time, too, if they weren’t waiting around for the things they want to happen and instead just rolled with what is actually happening.

  5. I’m new here, but I just got through being imposed on for t-giving, so I can relate to the weariness. yes the solution relies on lowering expectations and paying grocery stores or restaurants to do some cooking. or pot luck, or pay gf for groceries (hide cash somewhere if you have to, or give a grocery store gift card?). Can you go a day early to “help”? Can you simplify the dishes enough? Would the rents be happy if she served spaghetti and steamed broccoli as long as everyone was together? I’ve been thinking for a year about the void in our family of a matriarch to gather us at holidays; my mother used to do it, but stopped maybe a decade ago when her health made it impossible. Now the extended family gets together at the (annual) wedding. Even from the pot luck years, my mom has stories about the guest who showed up hours late (or never), bearing a crucial dish. But if you’re talking 5 adults you can get a cooked meal (turkey ham or prime rib, 3 sides) for $50, about the same as lunch.

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