February 9, 2011


I have to admit that I've had many opportunities to post lately, but I haven't really been up to it. For one thing, I've been crazy busy at work. Crazy busy to the point where I am maintaining an ongoing to-do list which seems to be getting bigger every day, and where few items are actually resolved. I enjoy what I'm doing, but it's getting to be a bit overwhelming. Especially for a project that was supposed to just be a straightforward software upgrade project. Famous last words.

But that's not the main reason why I haven't really been blogging lately. I've been terribly bummed out. I'm not getting into specifics, but what I will say is that the source of my feeling down is related to family and cultural clashes, and my constant struggle between family #1 (i.e. PK and the hubby), and family #2 (i.e. parents and sister). I feel like I am caught between two worlds that are vying for my attention and affections.

Who wins out? It should be the hubby and PK, right? But I feel this immense amount of pressure (not to mention guilt) to make everyone happy and meet everyone's needs. And the more I try to make everyone happy, the more I suck at it.

I come from a culture where family is a big deal. Children don't typically leave the home until they are ready to get married. Family gatherings are a huge deal. Families meddle. Meddling is to be taken a sign that your family cares. But let's face it. I've been in Canada for almost 22 years. I'm 31 years old. Like it or not, I was raised in North America, surrounded by North American culture and values, even if that's not really what my parents intended.

After my maternal grandmother and great-aunt passed in 2008, this sense of urgency to preserve cultural values became ever more prominent with family #2. Unfortunately, having been North Americanized, I guess I just fail to see eye to eye with these values. So this constant identity struggle ensues. Especially when I think about PK's upbringing.

I had a very strict upbringing. No sleepovers, early bedtime (9pm up until I left for university), curfew, and of course, I was expected to excel at school (no crazy pressure, but straight As were always welcome). The hubby had a much different - and by my parents' standards, liberal - upbringing. He went to overnight camp, stayed out late but let his parents know where he was and when he'd come home, got to borrow the car. Yup...between us, it was night and day.

Personally, I'd probably borrow a bit of parenting from both sides when it comes to PK. I don't want to be a "helicopter parent". Of course I want her to do well, but I don't want her upbringing to be so rigid that she'll wonder why it is that she didn't enjoy her time at university as much as she should have.

Unfortunately, having been caught between these two worlds for the better part of 3 years now (it started during my pregnancy), I was finding that it was really affecting my relationship with PK. I've bitched and bitched about how PK likes the hubby more than she likes me. I've complained to the hubby time and again about how she's so much more affectionate toward him and how I felt like he was more of a mother to PK than I was, and that I was just the annoying lady who carried her for nine months and sucked at breastfeeding her when she was born.

It was incredibly frustrating to me to hear mothers talking about how their kids are so attached to them. And equally frustrating to hear fathers talk about how their kids go through phases of not really being into them. I couldn't help feeling like I related more to the fathers than I did the mothers. And then I started to reflect on my behavior towards PK.

Being caught between family #1 and family #2 put me in a pissy mood and made me emotionally unavailable mostly to family #1. It's easy to be a bitch to those closest to you. I had my head too far up my ass to give PK the attention that she deserved. Don't get me wrong; I wasn't neglecting her basic needs. I fed her and bathed her and managed to be mildly entertaining, but there was nothing that made me awesome to her. I couldn't figure out how to play with her and have fun with her in the same way that the hubby did. Sometimes I'd just stare at her while she played, oftentimes preferring to check Facebook over interacting with her. How terrible is that? Don't answer that. I know it's beyond terrible.

The good news is that I had an epiphany last week. I realized that I could really eff up my long-term relationship with PK if I didn't get my act together. I started putting in an effort to actually give her the attention that she deserved. And you know what? It worked. That's all she ever wanted. Thinking about it makes me want to cry (happy cry). I hope it's sustained. I love this place we're in.

My struggles between family #1 and family #2, they're not over yet. I suppose that they will never be over. I don't see eye-to-eye culturally with family #2, and that's stressful. I still find myself getting down over it. I'm not really sure what to do, but I do know that family #1 has to come first.

1 comment:

Fawn said...

Awww, I wish I had a magic answer for you when it comes to the family #2 dynamic. I can say that I keep learning over and over again how important it is for us to consider ourselves first, but since I keep having to re-learn that lesson, I'm not sure how useful it is.

But I'm glad to hear that you're in a happier place when it comes to your relationship with PK -- that's wonderful! You're so right -- it is SO easy to be awful to the people who are closest to us. Here's to happy kids and happy families.