Sunday, October 31, 2010

How My Life Is/Is Not Like "Parenthood"

I love the show Parenthood.  I love how the whole family is tangled up in each other's lives, supporting each other and helping each other and having fun together.  I love how the show always ends with the entire family, all four grown kids and their children and spouses at Zeke and Camille's house for dinner, sharing all of the trials of the week and laughing and drinking wine.  I love it.  I have always wanted that kind of family.  I know that takes work and I have worked at it.

We enjoy a wonderful relationship with my parents.  My parents are a lot like Camille and Zeke, they are supportive and generous with their time, they love being with the girls.  My mom gives the girls sewing lessons once a week.  My dad came up to our house in Connecticut almost every weekend to teach and help Jason with our home renovations; now my dad often makes big pots of soups and stews and brings them over to share.  Actually, I think my dad and Zeke would get along very well.

We have a great relationship with my grandmother.  My grandmother is a pip.  She is a riot.  All of my friends who have ever met her adore her and ask about her all the time.  She is hysterically funny, she loves to have a good time and she really tells it like it is.  I make an effort to have her over for dinner often and the girls and I are thrilled that our co-op is right down the street from her house so we can stop there for a cup of tea on Monday afternoons...the only problem is that we enjoy our time with her so much, we have a hard time leaving!  There really is not anyone in the show of my grandmother's generation, but if I were to say which character she is most like, it would be Sarah.  My grandmother has certainly seen some hard times and she certainly has her share of concerns and worries, but she always has fun.

I have always been close with my mother's brother and sister.  They are such special people to me.  When I was a little girl, they took me to see the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center and to see Annie on Broadway, they took me to museums and the Central Park Zoo.  One of my favorite childhood memories is going to Manhattan with my Uncle and just wandering around and then going to Serendipity for a lunch of pecan pie and ice cream sundaes--oh, and frozen hot chocolate, of course!  Jason adores my uncle as well, they share a love of cooking and wine.  One of our favorite things to do is to have my uncle over and spend the day on an intricate menu, drinking wine and listening to Edith Piaf!  Although my aunt and uncle are older than most of the characters in the show, my aunt could easily be cast as Julia and my while my uncle is not really like Crosby, he could be the Crosby-like character.

Jason's family has never really been the kind of family that spends a lot of time talking together.  I had a really hard time understanding this.  For years I tried to make that relationship into something cozy and warm and happy and supportive, and at times, it was all of that and more.   It may sound like I am really clueless, but it is only in maybe the last year that I have come to realize that no matter how much I want something to be a certain way, no matter how much work I put in, sometimes it just is never going to be that way and I need to accept that.  Jason's family doesn't like to leave their home, they won't accept dinner invitations or come to the girls' birthday parties or to our home for a holiday.  It used to hurt me, but now I realize that I have to accept that.  I never felt accepted by them, so I guess maybe to make a comparison to Parenthood, they could be Jasmine's family, since her family does not accept Crosby.

Unfortunately, my brother and sister-in-law are really not that into the extended family thing.  When we were kids and family came to visit, I enjoyed sitting around talking with everyone and listening to their conversations, but my brother would go off and do his own thing. My sister-in-law is very close with her parents and sisters and she and my brother are kept busy with my sister in law's family.  We've tried to be there for them, we hosted their baby shower, and watched their daughter for a summer, but when we invite them over there is often a conflict.  For years, I thought that I could work on the relationship, that if we helped them out or if we invited them over, we could develop a relationship.  After over eleven years, I have come to realize that I need to accept that is not to be.  It seems that almost every time we invite them, there is some kind of an issue and we are at the point where we don't want to be exclusive, but our relationship can't really take much more upset.  We know we didn't want it to be this way, we know we tried and now we need to accept our family for what it is.

If I could be anyone on Parenthood, I would want to look like Christina and have Christina's home, but Julia's life.  Christina is beautiful and her house is my dream home (I love Craftsman-style homes), but is struggling with the realities of dealing with an autistic son.  Julia has a successful career, and her husband stays home to take care of their gifted daughter, but her husband is getting tired of being the stay at home dad, so she has problems too.  I started out thinking that the characters in this show have a sublime life.  Maybe my life is more like the television show than I realized.  I have a great marriage and great kids, a cozy home and we love our life.  I am so thankful that I am able to homeschool them, to be with them and experience this with them, to watch them grow and blossom before my eyes.  But I still have problems...I guess we all do.