On December 21st we picked up my Mom and Step-Dad from the airport for what would end up being a fantastic visit for 10 days.
To be honest: It was nothing like I expected it to be.
I expected the worst.
I expected a lot of tension.
I expected some harsh discussions.
I was wrong!
Let me give you some back ground. 20 years ago my Mom married a man that was 17 years younger than herself. This was her 5th marriage. In my mind he was a kid that never grew up.
I will admit, I rolled my eyes a lot during the first few years they were together. I never expected it to last.
It has though. They just celebrated 20 years together.
This is a man that has turned into a wonderful Grandpa for my kids.
My kids never knew any of the other men so they don't have a history to remember like I did. They only know "duck dynasty Santa Claus". (We heard this a lot during their visit--LOL)
My kids look up to him, adore him and want to spend time with him. This makes me smile.
I have some fond memories of times that I spent with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I really wanted this for my kids too. The older kids have had this chance as we have lived around family off and on throughout their childhood. My little kids may not have this chance.
We moved 3000 miles away from everyone. This will create a much different environment for my little kids when it comes to being around extended family.
I am grateful for Skype. With this technology we have been able to stay in touch a few times each week. Isabella and Finnley will be able to stay connected to their grandparents.
We have not spent a Christmas with my parents in over 9 years. This past summer they decided to make plans to visit us for the Christmas break. If you are familiar with my other updates, you know that I suffer from a bit of anxiety with visitors to my home. This sent me into crazyville for a few days.
Not to mention my Mom wanted to come for 2 weeks. WTH! 2 WEEKS--I thought about how much I would be drinking during this time. Kidding (kind of).
We compromised and they booked their flight and stay for 10 days. Driving to the airport I was shaking with nerves. I so desperately wanted this visit to be a peaceful one. I did not want to fight, relive old sorrows and woes or dig up our past encounters (although my first turkey was chatted about AGAIN). I served a turkey that had a raw center to 20 family members for my first turkey and I will never live it down nor will they, since I had a complete melt down (think Christmas Vacation and Clark in the living room)...LOL It is one of those moments that is really funny now but wasn't back then.
My kids were so excited to see them at the airport. We made signs and waited with anticipation as every passenger from the plane passed us by. Pretty soon we could see them around the corner and we ran to great them. This was Finnleys first time seeing her grandparents. She did great. Not a tear in sight when grandma picked her up and showered her with kisses.
We made it home and started planning our visit. We were all open to spending time together, playing games and getting ready for Santa's visit.
I know that people can change. I have changed. I was just hoping that our encounter would not change us back to who we were so long ago. Family has this strange way of time warping me back to when I was 15 years old. It doesn't matter how old I get when I am around my Mom or sisters I revert to old habits. Why is that? I don't think I am alone because I have seen my husband do it around his family too. In fact, I would often give him the " what the hell" look when he started acting like a kid again in his Mom's home. Then I realized I did the same thing. LOL
Well, I can happily report that we had the best time and I did not spend any time drinking. Their visit could not have been more perfect (well, of course the winning lottery ticket that night would have been nice--next time). I felt that my kids will have some amazing memories to pass onto their own families about these two people who they call grandma and grandpa.
So what changed? For my step dad- I believe- had a life altering accident one year ago on New Years Day when he wrecked his motorcycle. He was in terrible shape. I believe he had a lot of time to reflect on the importance of family and what really matters. While visiting with us he often commented about how important family is to him and how happy he was to be with the kids. Happiness and being grateful can definitely change a person for the better.
I personally have mellowed out considerably. I'm half Irish, I used to be a fighter. I used to get my shackles up in a ruckus. I was really uptight when ever I spent time around my family which made me very edgy. I was prickly. I was a brat to be honest, especially to the many step dads that I had in my life. I was on guard-a lot.
I vowed that I would not let "grandpa's" come in and out of my kids lives like "dads" did. I needed to protect my kids. I was in Momma Bear mode.
It wasn't until right before their visit that it dawned on me that Burler was their only grandpa that they had ever known on my side of the family. EVER. I had a new appreciation for the relationship. I didn't know how much he loved the kids until he came to visit us. I regret taking so long to be warm and fuzzy to a person that was rough around the edges but had a heart of gold.
Love is something that I don't throw around loosely. I don't give it freely (except to my kids and husband). It must be earned and then respected. Our previous encounters never allowed either of us to be friends first, we were thrust into a situation that was instantly hostile.
Until this visit.
They were on my turf. In my home. With my kids.
I had hoped I could control the situation and make it a visit that we would all remember. I believe it was. Not because I controlled it but because we all could finally relax, love and enjoy each others company without the stress of outside elements intruding on our time together.
I will say that I can't take back the past, the harsh things said in a heated moment from years ago, but I can fill the future with better memories. I can call more, skype more, have more planned visits together and try with all my heart to make my kids understand that having grandparents that love you is a gift.
Like most families we have struggled, suffered and had strife within ourselves and among each other.
We always find our way back. We find the love that carries us to a higher place and allows us to forgive, laugh, care, smile, praise, enjoy and live.
It is possible to change.
I know this now.
And we had the best Christmas.
We love you Grandma and Grandpa!
|Our elf left us a winter wonderland when the kids came down stairs on Christmas Day. Lots of balloons, snowflakes hung from the ceiling, the tree was covered with tinsel and "snow"...glitter was everywhere. It was awesome!|