Disclaimer: This post may be a bit of a downer post. My apologies.
I just drove away from another family reunion with my immediate family this year.
And I cried.
I started crying at the end of my family reunions for the first time a few years ago and it seems like it's become an annual trend. At first I just said, well, I missed my family. That was easy and understandable enough. But I felt it didn't quite hit the mark on the expanse of my emotions.
I'm the youngest child in a family of 8 kids. I grew up looking at my older sisters and brother as though they had godlike perfection. I wanted to be just like them. All of them. (Sounds possible right?) I wasn't aware of their mistakes or flaws until much later in life and it sort of hit me like a ton of bricks at first. I thought "Oh wait, they aren't perfect?" and then of course the afterthought followed, "No of course they aren't perfect." But this still didn't stop me from admiring their every trait.
As tears sprung once again as I was driving away from this year's family reunion, I began to honestly dissect the reason for my tears. Yes, I miss my family. I don't get to see them near as much as I'd like to especially since I became an adult. I used to be the last one left living with my parents so everyone would come to my house to visit. Now that I am married with kids I have to go there to visit and ALSO go simultaneously with other family members in order to visit them. Or make the effort to connect with them at their homes or mine, but this often doesn't go any further then stating "We really should do something sometime."
So the family reunion comes in the summer and the anticipation to see these godlike creatures again in their glory consumes me. Then I spend a couple days in their presence and am reminded of how much I don't know them as well as I want to know them, and how much I don't think they know me as well as I want them to. Then it also hits me that I am now the adult I used to fantasize about being someday sans these fantastic traits I love in my older siblings.
I look at sister number 1 and see strength and contentment. Sister number 2, and her all-consuming happiness and optimism. Sister number 3 and her healthy respect, let alone her gardening and mothering skills. Sister number 4 and her joy and enthusiasm with life. My brother comes next with his unique humor and style. Sister number 5 adds on the contentment and confidence. Then of course sister number 6 has always been perfect beyond my ability to understand. There are traits and beautiful things about each one of these amazing people that I admire so much. As a kid I used to dream I'd be just like them. I expected to be, because I was their family. So I'd inherit these things, right? But every year I'm reminded that now I'm adult and I still haven't amounted to those things I thought I would. The biggest thing that seems to run in my family is everybody's innate contentment and resolution to life. Somehow I skipped that gene. It takes a lot of work for me to hunker down and get happy about my place in life.
Then I find myself thinking...each one of my siblings has something that stands out as their best quality. She's good at organizing. She's good at being positive. She's supermom and green thumb. She's fix-it lady and storyteller. He's the cool, confident quirky one. She's the cook and awesome mom. She's the one that's always right. So......what about me?
I'm the...messy mom with good intentions?
I think the reason I cry after the family reunion every year is because I'm disappointed. I get so excited to reconnect and never feel like I have reconnected to the extent that I'd be satisfied. I'm disappointed with myself for not living up to the expectations of who I wanted to become -my siblings. I'm disappointed that I don't even know what my niche is. I'm just the youngest. The observer. The silent one in conversations that awkwardly speaks up at the wrong time to try to fit in my own story.
People shouldn't compare themselves to other people. But growing up in a big family of people I've idolized made that really hard for me not to do. I have lots of good people to compare myself to, and I fall short.