A Renewed Effort: Blogging, Family, and Mother’s Day

My family, some 17 years ago.

After a long hiatus, I’m blogging again. Personally, I blame my failed juice fast for my absence. I’ve come back to the blog partially because I think it’s an important outlet for non-academic writing, and also for more cynical reasons: I need a job. After an attempt at “test blogging” as part of an application process, which went miserably, I’ve realized that burgeoning writers really need to have active blogs these days. So here goes… again.

Today is Mother’s Day, and I’m already feeling like a pretty bad daughter. I sent the obligatory email this morning, complete with a colorful large font declaring “Happy Mother’s Day!”, but I haven’t gotten her a present and she called me before I got a chance to call her. I’ll make it up to her after my exams are over. But this whole family oriented holiday thing has got me thinking more generally about my family, and their role in my life. Right now it’s a pretty small one, but I’m hoping to change that soon, ideally without suffocating in the process.

I’ve always been close with my family, but since coming to college I’ve drifted away from them. My parents live two hours away, which is just close enough for occasional visits, but I usually let them come to me. Otherwise, I go home for major breaks and a little bit during the summer, but that’s it. I’ve spent my summers elsewhere for the past three years, and this year I even managed to spend my fall and spring breaks on vacation with my boyfriend, leaving only winter break at home. Over those few weeks, they managed to find out that I smoke, confront me about drinking too much, and generally make me feel like an all-around disappointment. Of course, they don’t think I’m a disappointment; the problem is, I have a bad habit of always interpreting their perceptions of me as negative. I have a huge guilt complex when it comes to my family, so I always assume that they think I’m guilty too. Guilty of what, I’m not even sure.

This summer I hope to go home for a short amount of time, find a job, and move away for good. Far away would be preferable, although logistics are pointing towards DC, which is only two hours away from home (I can’t decide whether this is a good thing or not). But either way, once I get the full independence from my family that I crave so much, I want to bring them back into my life as a source of support that’s purely emotional – no financial support, no educational support, no help with housing or income – just emotional. I will call my parents and my brother voluntarily, and I will keep them updated on my life. I have trouble doing this now because I feel like when I let them in, they have control over me; but once I’m out on my own for good, I will be able to appreciate their love and support without feeling quite so obligated to actually do what they say. I can’t pretend that familial obligations will ever disappear completely, but I think that with my independence, I will gain more control over the relationship.

The truth is, I have a wonderful family. They’re loving, supportive, generally intelligent, and occasionally batshit crazy; but above all, they’re fundamentally good people. I’m the one who has the issues, who induces all the guilt and stress on my part. It’s probably because I fear any intimacy that’s non-sexual, non-romantic. Anyway, I’m entering a scary new stage in my life, and I know my family will be there for me through it. So with that bit of sentimentality over, time for some pictures of the people who shaped my childhood. They’re mostly of my Dad’s side of the family, because I snagged a bunch of old photos that my Dad was scanning once. Here they are, roughly in chronological order:

My paternal grandmother in Tahiti, where she met my grandfather.

My paternal grandparents, holding my aunt as a baby.

My Dad and my aunt as kids. They just don't make 'em this cute anymore.

My Dad riding his bike.

My Dad's family with their new Rolls Royce. My grandfather (who I never met) bought it on an impulse. He was a little crazy, and even though I never met him, his presence has always been felt in the family.

My Dad.

My Mom and Dad, before they got married. What a foxy couple.

My Dad and my older brother, before I was born.

My Mom, my brother, and I in Maine when we were kids.

My uncle (Dad's younger brother), being a pirate. Which he is.

Hopefully I’ll get a similar batch of old photos from my Mom’s side of the family sometime. These don’t quite seem holiday appropriate, given that they’re all of my Dad’s side, but the old ones are just so gorgeous that I had to post them. Anyway, Happy Mother’s Day!

All photos courtesy of my family’s collection.

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