Monday, December 30, 2013

Let's Go Fly a Kite

I always have some feelings of trepidation when I'm headed to a family party.  By “trepidation” I mean I whine and cry and try to negotiate my way out of the event starting a good week beforehand.  When the day rolls around, my kids have to murmur calming words into my ear while peeling my fingers off the doorframe.  You’re probably thinking, oh, it can’t be that bad.  What could a bunch of sweet, little old ladies possibly do to you?  I have two words for you, psychological warfare.  These women spend their time thinking of passive-aggressive comments to use a few times a year on their unsuspecting victims.  When they hurtle one at you, you’re not sure if you’ve been insulted, complimented, or you were simply hallucinating.

I have come to realize that it’s always the biggest losers in my family who like to use the holidays to remind me of my past failures.  They love that I dropped out of college at 18 and got married at 20.  At Christmas, my aunt decided it would be a good idea to remind me of the fact that my life would have been much easier if I had just stayed in college when I was a teenager instead of having to go to school while being a working, single mom.  As far as I’m concerned, that's just kicking a girl while she’s down [perpetually exhausted].  To set the scene, imagine that a lady featured on Hoarders comes up to you and tells you that you’re a fucking loser, now you know what my family gatherings are like.

Ridiculously enough, I did think about this incident for a while because it happens way too often that someone in my family waves the decisions I made over a decade ago in my face. I realized that I need some steadfast reasons tucked away in my brain so I can laugh off all future comments forever and ever after.  I contemplated and ate some cookies and pondered and nibbled on some peppermint bark and considered and had some ice cream, and then I finally came to a few conclusions.

I have “paid” for my mistakes.  I wasn't some watery tart who ran off because she couldn't handle her own kids.  My ex-husband left us, and I've raised the kids on my own for the past decade.  They are beautiful, well-adjusted people who are worth so much more as human beings than any of my cunty relatives.

Anyone who is still bringing up the mistakes I made when I was 18 (I'm 33 now) understands absolutely nothing about child/human development and never should have been a parent to begin with.  I can't imagine pointing out a mistake one of my kids or nieces made for the next 15 years.

I went back to school and I will be graduating in March with an excellent GPA.  I did that while working full time, raising two kids, and being old and tired as shit.  That is a noteworthy accomplishment.  Any asshole can finish college when their only other daily obligation is drinking, but it takes a real asshole to...oh, wait a minute...

The relatives that tend to mention my past shortcomings haven't accomplished anything notable with their lives (except owning a remarkable number of pets) and their careers are non-existent.  Who are they to judge?  I can't let some jealous, bored looney tune ingrain in my head that decisions I made while I was young and lost in the world determine that I'm a loser.

I'll quote a silly TV comedy I saw the other day, Castle, because it was a good reminder of how our mistakes shape us as human beings.  In the scene, Castle is a father talking to his daughter, Alexis, who just got rejected from Stanford.

Castle: "Rejection isn’t a failure."
Alexis: "Sure feels like failure."
Castle: "Failure is giving up.  Everybody gets rejected.  It’s how you handle it that determines where you’ll end up."

Everyone makes mistakes, everyone comes across someone who tells them they're not good enough, and everyone gets rejected.  If you are able to stand back up, figure out what you want, and go get it, that's what counts.  I have overcome quite a bit to get where I am, and I can't listen to the naysayers, they do nothing but hold me back with their own insecurities.

To all the crazy, self-absorbed relatives out there (mine and yours): go fly a kite.  Oh, and Merry Christmas.

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