Posts Tagged ‘family dynamics’

Carmen, You Are A

February 25, 2015

Rockstar.

Why thank you.

It did take some rock star maneuvering to get through today, but I made it through.

The mom paid me the compliment.

The grandmother told me I was amazing.

The almost, in three days, five-year old told me he loved me.

The dog kissed my face.

The two and a half-year old had his Meow Meow hug me, his little white cat that is now grey from dirt and love.

Validation.

So nice to meet you.

It is lovely to be so appreciated at work and it’s nice to be busy.

Not too busy, I could use a little more down time then this week has afforded me, but the grandparents leave tomorrow and I have a half day on Thursday, so I can interview for the graduate school program, and things will roll right along.

The upside to being busy is that I don’t have time to be bored.

I am almost always doing something.

“Can I help?”  The grandmother asked as I started unpacking the bags from the market and getting the things for dinner arranged.

“No, but thank you,” I said.

Not because I probably couldn’t use the help, but because it actually, often times ends up being a hinderance to the preparation.

I don’t think in a linear manner.

I try, but often get distracted, and often find short cuts, and often have fifteen things happening at one time.

In the span of an hour and a half I prepped snacks for pre-school pick up for the oldest boy–thermos of milk, strawberries, hulled and sliced, clementines, peeled and sectioned, two small Fuji apples, cored, sliced, sprinkled with cinnamon, box of whole wheat crackers in a little container.

The kid likes having options.

Then I roasted cauliflower for dinner, made a marinade for salmon I had bought at BiRite (two pounds wild Alaskan salmon marinated in olive oil, Meyer lemon juice and zest, one lime, sea salt, fresh chopped flat head parsley, garlic, fresh pepper, thyme, and a little basil), big tossed salad for the whole family, and sushi rice in the rice cooker.

I did a lot of other things too, laundry, clean up, dishes, but I don’t think of it anymore, I just do it.

I just had my five month anniversary with the family and I would say it’s going well.

The almost five-year old celebrated his birthday tonight with his grandparents who fly out tomorrow afternoon.

I was grateful to not have to be a party to bed time.

It was hard enough wrangling the two monkeys after a couple of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes from Mission Mini’s.

It was like a sugar bomb went off in both their brains.

As I stood in the middle of it, watching the dynamic of the family I thought how lucky I was for my job.

And for the experience it’s providing me.

“You are so far ahead of anyone coming into the program,” a friend told me Saturday night, “leaps and bounds, you’ll do fine at the interview and they will take you into the program.”

It’s nice to hear.

Again, validation, affirmation, I am good, I do a good job.

But it was better to have it sink in, from my head to my heart, down to my gut.

I know she’s right.

I have had eight years being at the center of many a family.

I have done my field research to be a MFT, Marriage and Family Therapist.

In spades.

I have seen family’s that blew me away with their love and others that blew me away with their neurosis.

All of them have been instrumental in my own personal growth.

Learning how to communicate without being passive aggressive or manipulative.

When a kid whines, it’s hard to tolerate and there’s a wheedling aggressive manipulation happening.

If I make you uncomfortable, you will fold and I will get what I want.

I can’t handle it much better in adults.

It’s subtler, but really it boils down to the same thing.

And those families I haven’t stayed employed with long.

I have learned about self-care, how to prepare myself for the job and stay serene in my own persona and core.

I have learned to meditate at work, in the middle of the day when there’s a nap time happening.

I don’t always get to, but when I am, the magic is palpable.

I see what happens when families eat junk versus good food.

Or when miscommunication happens or feelings get hurt.

I see that we are all, all of us, me especially, human and I make mistakes.

I see also that I get to make mistakes and that’s part of learning.

“No!  I want you to draw it,” the oldest boy told me, “I can’t do it as well.”

“You will one day, and not so far off,” I replied.  “Just try, you don’t have to be perfect, it takes patience and practice and repetition, you have to start somewhere, here’s a great place.”

He picked up the crayon and drew outside the lines, smashing bright colors all over the page, “it’s my favorite color!”

Yellow.

Or gold.

“Just try, you are safe, I won’t drop you,” I told the youngest boy yesterday at swim lessons.

“I’m scared, I’m afraid,” he said.

“I have you, I won’t drop you, you are safe, and you can be afraid, fear is ok, but you still get to try, come on, you can do it, jump!” I smiled and lifted him up into the air and the splashed down into the water.

“See!” I hugged him and his wet arms wrapped around me and he smiled back wet eyed and beautiful.

I’m going to nail that interview.

I’m going to graduate school.

This is happening.

Never thought being a nanny would lead me anywhere, it was just something to do until the right thing came along.

Who knew it was the thing that would provide me with the foundation to do that right thing when the time came.

Life.

Full of wonderful surprises.

And sweet validation.

Thank you!

The grandma and grandpa said for the photos.

Thank you, you are a super hero, the dad said.

Thank you! The mom called out to me as I walked out the door.

You are very welcome.

See you tomorrow.

I have some more research to do.

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It Was Good

January 15, 2014

It was hard.

But in the end, it was good.

Now, it’s good to be home again.

Home in San Francisco.

“Next time, I will come to you,” my mom said, “are there any hotels around you that are reasonable?”

There are.

And I am happy to have her.

It will be some time, she’s older and aging and that was hard to see, my mom, moving so slowly, her hips and knees kaput.

She informed me that she has to have a double hip and double knee replacement.

Jesus, lord.

That is a lot of surgery.

But when it’s done and she has had some time to be convalescent, then yes, a visit.  I would love to have my mom for a visit.

There was a time, and not too long ago that the thought would have had me running for the hills.

But people change.

I changed.

And now I want to continue having a relationship with my mom.

I would even like to travel with her.

There are things, in Paris, I would love to show her–her favorite artist is Monet–like the Musee Monet de Montmarttan in the 16th.  Or the Orangerie with all the Monet Water Lillies and scenes from Giverney.

That is off in the future and hazy as all get out, but there and I feel a nice there, like yeah, this could happen.

And the gift of perspective is huge, she and I have both changed.

My sister has changed too.

And I did not let myself acknowledge it or pay tribute to the emotions, but they did come out a bit when I was chatting with my housemate about the trip.

It was hard.

Hard to see where she and I separated, went our own ways, had our own challenges.  I felt like I was just sort of a witness, a bystander to a drive by hit and family run, that I got a little bowled over by it all.

It was a lot to pack into the two and a half short days I was there, down in Florida, down in golf cart land, senior citizen play land, with all the pastel ladies and white-haired gents, socks and sandals and little dogs running about, and yes, the pink flamingos on the lawns.

It was good.

Good to hug my sister, see her growth, hell, see my growth, and just be a witness.

It felt tender and sweet and fragile.

But I feel just like my roots grasped new soil, so too are hers, and that is a wonderful thing to witness.

Even, if after a while, I was done with it and ready to go back to where I belong.

I was so excited to be home, the sun shining, my friend picking me up at the airport, a cold apple on the dashboard waiting for me, which was eaten immediately!

“Help yourself to as much as you want,” the stewardess said as she walked along the aisle with a box full of foil packages of salted, sweet, crunchy, crap for snacking.

“Thank you, I am fine,” I said and went back to my Naked smoothie and apple I had procured in the airport.

Then I nodded off, my computer battery had died, midway through the movie I was watching and I was done with reading my magazine.  I snuggled into my head pillow and dozed off.

Only to be awakened by the screaming child throwing things at his mother a little while later.

Ah, yes, that was a fun time.

I stayed out of it, but if I had heard the woman threaten to take the child into the bathroom and spank him one more time I was going to get up and spank her.

“Do you want a spanking?” She demanded, “sit down!”

The child sniffled, whined, and then screamed some more.

Oh dear lord.

Not my place, not my place, not my place.

I just did my best to ignore it and spent a lot of time drifting in and out of nap land, periodically waking up from a holler, a shoe kick, a thrown cup ( and a batman doll, robin figurine, Woody the Cowboy toy, phone, and shoes), thank god you’re not mine, kid, I thought.

Then, well, she’s just doing the best she can.

Not a fan of people who use spanking as a tactic to punish their children, but well, it’s not my business, now is it?

Actually I am really opposed to people who hit their kids, but what was I going to do?

Give her a lecture on the plane.

Explain that her lack of boundary setting was the reason for the child’s outlandish behavior?

Nope.

But as I watched the dynamics between my mom, my sister, my mom’s partner, and myself, I see how those dramas play out over time and where they can change and perhaps develop into something less than a drama and move toward healthy, loving, relationships.

Today’s principle?

Patience.

Patience with the kiosk at the airport that wanted to charge me for checking in.

Patience with the lines at security.

Patience for the tired mom and weary child.

Patience for the tired mom and the weary child, me.

Love for them all.

Sister, mother, self.

Hard work.

Yup.

Worth the effort?

Abso-fucking-lutely.

Will I be headed down to Florida any time soon for another repeat?

Probably not, I won’t rule it out, but I feel like this trip was worth it, the suiting up and the showing up.

And as I sat watching the family eat dinner, the niece sitting too shy on the couch to join us at the table, my sister and her husband, my mother and her partner, I saw that, yeah, life is messy, and hard, and difficult.

But when one person starts showing up, others do too.

I can join in the mess.

I don’t have to sit in it, but I can partake for a little while.

Then, get up, dust myself off, hop a plane, and remember that I did it for them.

Not for me.

This was not about me and that was a good thing to recognize.

Hard.

But yes.

Good.


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