It’s never quite as I expect…

It’s the holidays, again, and I am instilled, AGAIN, with a minor desire to resurrect a blog that is meant neither to attract or inform. But is meant more as a place to be, hidden away from others where no one would think to look.

My son, Luke, is headed to Hong Kong on Monday to study abroad for six months. Last night I had greatly anticipated a fun, family reunion dinner–one of two this weekend, before he leaves. But he gets home from his dad’s and yells at me about being in his business. [I have spent hours over the last several weeks helping him organize medications, immunizations, etc.–all which he procrastinated then asked me to do.] Quit harassing him about his immunizations–he’ll take care of it. The typhoid immunization–four pills to be taken every other day–won’t even be completed before he leaves, and since they’re live bacteria and sensitive to heat, may not even be fully functioning by the time he finishes them since he refused to take any last night to get started.

And so it goes that the family evening–and the family dinner–always has a curve ball, some sort of unexpected, that somehow I can’t figure out how to cushion against. Years ago it was my stepdaughter who threw those curveballs as I sat completely unexpecting. A former girlfriend of Luke’s once commented [something like], it’s weird…like we’re all having a normal conversation then she says something snotty to you. And I’m like, where did that come from?

Now the curve balls are different. My stepsons’ complaints, or pushing food around on his plate, or picking through the rich and lovely parts of the meal to pull out strands of plain pasta…and later starting to spoon everything he didn’t eat back into the family serving bowl as I freak out. The girlfriend with her knees up, pulling apart prime rib with her fingers as it it were the zoo. The conversation usually swirling about on topics for which I have little interest (thank god they aren’t all in the same high school anymore…at least now they all have different frames of reference to share and no common ground from which I’m solidly excluded).

And so last night, the meal I had carefully planned, and anticipated, and tried to play-off as not working too hard (else the kids might freak out) was, well, disappointing. Consistently. That is the one thing that is consistent in all the meals…they generally are disappointing.

So, then, how do you have those meals? The ones on television where everyone sits down happily and has generous, inclusive conversation and laughter? Is it just in waiting for the growing up? Is it in adjusting my expectations? Both? Quit planning meals altogether and order pizza? Would that make everyone happier? Me? Or is it that everyone else sees these meals the way I would like to see them, and I’m the only one dissatisfied?

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