Monday, June 22, 2009

Family Dynamics

This weekend, between admiring my newly brown bathroom, I was thinking about family relationships and dynamics. I only have 1 child right now, and as you know, he's a boy. I have 2 sisters. No brothers. Having a boy is a lot different than having multiple girls, at least based on my experience to date. Being married has also taught me this. Let's take for instance, male and female reactions to an upsetting event:

Male reaction: "This sucks. Moving on..."
Female reaction: "*&%!@$ *Months* of analysis with sisters and girlfriends about the cause of aforementioned upsetting event, and placement of blame. Possibly tears on multiple occasions. Creation of a new music playlist based on the event, and at least 1 glass of an alcoholic beverage consumed with a highly caloric item of food.

I'm generalizing obviously, but the point is, most of the time, females are more emotional and take things harder than men do. It's just in our nurturing nature :)

So, growing up in a family of 3 sisters, I'm very familiar with this phenomenon. I'm the middle, in case you're wondering, and no I don't have a complex. I like being a middle child; we're happy to please and pleased to be happy. My sisters and I are also spaced apart in age. My older sister is 5 years older than me, and our younger sister is nearly 9 years younger than me. So, there's been drama in our parents' house for a LOT of years :)

And despite the fact that we're all married and have been adults for a LONG time, we still resort to a certain child-like state when anything emotionally trying comes up. We gossip and comfort amongst ourselves, and hide things from our parents. I know it sounds ridiculous, but we do. All 3 of us adore our parents and have good relationships with them. But there's something soothing about having a sisterly conference call or online chat prior to addressing the issue at hand with the parental unit that has not dissipated with time. It's different as adults, certainly. But we still do it. And often times, it leads to sticky familial situations.

I encountered one this weekend. I get an innocent phone call from my wonderfully loving mom. We exchange pleasantries. And then I get the questions that all sisters dread:

"So. Have you talked to *your sister*? Has she told you what's going on?"

Ok. So, right at the outset of these simple statements, I know several things. I know that:

(1) I can buy myself a few seconds by innocently querying: "Which one?" and,
(2) I have no earthly idea what she is talking about. However, I can guarantee that,
(3) Whatever it is that she's talking about, not only do I already know about it, I have the complete detailed lowdown and week-long analysis on it. *But*
(4) I knew about it before she knew about it, and if she knows that I already know, she's going to feel left out be very unhappy. Thus,
(5) Even though I already know, I cannot let her know that I know.

Inevitably, this leads to me being vague, which leads to a follow-up slew of pointed questions. In the end, nobody is happy, and yet another sisterly conference call is initiated. And the cycle starts anew.

I always smile when I think about an anecdote my mom told me once. I was away at college, my older sister Rhonda already had a job out of town, and our younger sister Shauna'h still lived at home. My mom was on the phone with 2 sisters at once, me on one line, Rhonda on the other, and Shauna'h was in the room with her. All 3 of us were crying about different things. It's just the way it works with 3 girls. Lots and lots and lots of hormones...

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