29 Jul JUNE – Check in on family
Check in on Family
My family is complex and stretch far and wide. It is made up of clusters from many different people in my life. My immediate family is my sister Georgia, her husband and her kids. With no parents around, she is my go to. She plays 3 roles – a mother a father and a big sister. Then, there is my extended immediate family, consisting of my other siblings and their children. I also have my extended family – my aunts, uncles and cousins. My in laws are there too. Throughout May, I had developed relationships and connections with my family simply by making more of an effort to contact them. This month, like my resolution to ‘check in on friends,‘ I’d wanted to deepen connections with family members.
I appreciate the importance of family. Although, I am the first to admit that I am much better at connecting and engaging with my friends. Mostly due to the fact that I don’t have a solid connection with much of my family on my father’s side and also because of the generational age gaps that exist. My strategy for checking in with family was the same as my friendship resolution. I was hoping that by using the grid to check in, that I could foster closer relationships and keep us in contact. My nieces in Melbourne loved touching base. I had seen them in December and made the call to go and visit over the June long weekend. They were pumped! I made it part of my resolution to check in with them in the lead up to my visit and continue the connection after my departure. This trip to Melbourne was mostly to reconnect with my oldest sister. We had drifted apart in recent years and I was grappling with issues regarding our father and thought that she may share much of the same angst that I do in regards to his mistreatment of all his children. The trip to Melbourne was just what I needed. We were able to deconstruct my father’s actions, and in a way – I found peace in the situation and have let it go (for now at least). Moving forward, I need to continue to ensure the communication pathways are clear with this side of my family through maintaining this resolution.
It was much simpler to check in with family living in the same state as me. I had discovered throughout May that it is easy to touch base with my adult relatives like my sister Georgia, her husband Mark and my in-laws who only live 2 hours away. Although on the other hand, I fell short with engaging with my younger niece and nephew (even though they live here in Canberra!). Being a teacher by day, also makes me a terrible auntie by night. I have zero patience for children outside of school hours and relish in the opportunity to engage with adults as my days are spent talking to children all…the…time! I had a think about this analogy. It’s not fair on my family that my chosen profession means I miss most of their little lives. I thought back to my commandment to ‘use time wisely.’ I would never be able to get this time back! I knew that later in life, I would look back on this time and wish I had been more present – when they actually liked me! I decided to take more action and make the effort to regularly check in with what they were up to.
Always remember, someone’s effort is is a reflection of their interest in you. In order to put more effort into remembering what was going on with everyone, using the recording grid proved successful in keeping up with everyones busy lives. This worked well for the adult family members and prompted me to maintain contact, pick up where we left off and ask questions about upcoming events. It wasn’t as useful for checking in with the kids. All they really had going on was sport. Sometimes they told me about the odd party coming up. It was like getting blood from a stone in regards to asking about school and friends! I tried a few times to chat to Ava over the phone but typical of a 10 year old, she didn’t give much away! I reflected that maybe she didn’t feel comfortable telling me much because I wasn’t that kind of confidant to her… I thought that perhaps in upcoming months I needed to make more of an effort to be present in her life and not a weird aunt who bombarded her with a million questions once or twice a week. This wasn’t a strategy that worked with a 10 and 8 year old. They needed a different kind of connection, like shared experiences or playing with them side-by-side. I know I needed to take this further in upcoming months and be more present in a fashion that was applicable to them. I decided to set this as a resolution for the following month.
It’s not what we have in life, it’s who we have in our lives that matters. For so many years I have battled an uphill slog as I faced the heartbreak of losing my mother and then my father abandoning all parental responsibility. I rode the downward spiral into self-pity, so strongly focused on all that I lacked. I wallowed in my lack of parental presence and hung onto my past. When I actually took the time to look around and see that I HAD, I saw a loving sister, who dropped everything to look after me and support me. Her little family regarded me as part of their household and went out of their way to include me in everything. I had a husband who did his best to give me all that I was missing. His amazing family, who scooped me up and welcomed me with open arms. I had siblings, extended family, nieces and nephews – ones who genuinely wanted to connect with me. I decided to pull myself out of the funk that I had created for myself and look around to appreciate the abundance of love I that was around me.
I no longer regard myself as a victim of my circumstances. I am surrounded by an abundant amount of love.
I have all that I need to be happy.