We hosted Mark's extended family over the weekend.
It is always bittersweet for me to be around happy functioning families.
My own family is dysfunctional at best, and at worst, conditional, absent, distracted, crazy, mean, intolerant, ignorant, foolish, lame and misguided.
Being around people that are nice to each other, normal, kind, makes me feel like an alien and long for something solid to hang on to, lest I be swept away into a giant hole of loneliness that I feel opening up under my feet.
It always takes a couple days to recover and to get over the sadness and sense of loss that I feel from not having a family of my own, that works, that knows me, that cares for me and for each other.
My relationship with my children is a response to the perfunctory relationship I have with my own parents. The absence of any real familial intimacy.
I cling to my children, like buoys, they keep me afloat when my own parents rush away from our limited visits, back to the people and things that are important to them. My brother and I joke about this phenomenon, of leaving of separating, if we didn't joke we would cry. We are dedicated parents in response to indifferent parents. My children are not my life, my children are more important than my life.
I marvel that Mark can see his family without having his heart break, without need to try to put himself back together again, and again, a perpetual Humpty Dumpty.