Sometimes I'm astonished at what capable parents my Dad and my Aunt have become, considering their role models as children. My parents, my Aunt Mary and my cousin were here Thursday and Friday, and hearing about their adventures at my grandparents' house, that thought struck me once again. The fighting, the bitterness, the dysfunction, the piles and piles of junk in their house- it's completely overwhelming. I look at how my siblings and I have turned out, at the wonderful, loving relationship my parents have, and I'm amazed. I think Mary had it worse. She's 18 years younger than my Dad (they also have a brother a couple of years younger than Dad), so she was pretty much brought up as an only child. She has an 11-year-old son who's a nice kid, who knows he's loved, and who's neither overindulged nor overly restricted. I noticed at my sister's wedding what a happy little family Mary, her husband and son make. They seemed to enjoy one another's company so much.
After a visit to my grandparents' house, one usually needs a debriefing session. My mom always says she's not going to talk about the trip when she gets to our house, but in the end, we talk about it constantly. You need to blow off steam and get rid of all the bad vibes. Hearing some of the stories, and specifically hearing Mary's point of view on it (mostly that things weren't that different when she was a kid living at home with them), just made me sad. I feel so fortunate to have grown up in the house I did with the parents I had.
We had a good time, though, and they all commented about what a nice, pleasant visit they had with us. Our small apartment seemed spacious after spending the week in the cramped, junk-filled house. They filled a gigantic dumpster (Mom said it was like the trailer on a semi) with all of the stuff in the garage and the old, broken down van at Grammie and Grandpa's. They were thrilled to chat and watch movies and not have to clean anything out.
I was a good time for my parents to visit for us, too. Sometimes after you've had a tough time, as we have, you just need to see your Mommy.