I just returned home from spending four days with my parents and sister in lovely (insert eye roll here) Oklahoma. It was my mom’s birthday and Father’s Day weekend. We didn’t go out much because of the pandemic, instead spending time together relaxing and talking.
The trip was one of highs and lows.
Lows being differences (really fricking wide) in political, religious and how-we-see-the-world views. Practically everyone else in my family experiences the world in a completely different way than I do. So I had to bite my tongue to not engage every time someone said something that I just absolutely don’t agree with. Although I did venture an opinion here and there, basically I let them run with their ideas unhindered. I’ve been fighting this battle for a long time. There is nothing I can say to change their minds or allow them to consider a different point of view. I just live my life the way I want to.
The highs were when I overcame this and was able to just appreciate them for who they are. So in relaying my visit I want to focus on the little moments that made the trip enjoyable and memorable.
My parents have a small in-ground swimming pool in their backyard. The first day arrived, the weather was perfect to go out and splash about. My mom mentioned she has a water workout she likes to do. I asked her what it consisted of, and then for the next thirty minutes, my mom, my dad and I were all engaged in jumping jacks, push-ups on the side of the pool and other exercises. Our joint enthusiasm and openness made this a very fun and heart-warming experience. The connection shared in this seemingly small activity drove home the feeling of family.
My mom loves board games, so my birthday present for her was Mister Rogers Neighborhood game for us to play. My sister joined in as well. The laughter started while I was reading the instructions of how to play. The makers of this game tried to crammed WAY too much into one little game. Several of the cards have more than one function, there are too many rules, and god forbid, they even threw in some math! WTF!
After dropping a few rules, we managed to get a game going. My mom didn’t understand the game AT ALL and my sister and I were having to tell her every move to make each time it was her turn. The general confusion though lead to laughing so hard my stomach hurt and I thought I was going to pee my pants.
Obviously I don’t recommend the game, but there was one super cute rule. Any time you played a Mister Rogers card you had to tell someone at the table what makes them special.
I shared a sweet moment with my dad showing him how to facetime on his cell phone, so the next time I call we can actually see each other. He hardly ever uses his cell phone. I’ll probably have to call them on the land line first and tell him to go make sure his cell phone isn’t dead. Fingers crossed that he’ll remember how to answer the call. My dad loves to learn about new things though and isn’t scared to play around with stuff. (My mom, on the other hand, is terrified of technology.)
I also helped him with a project he is working on for my mom. He’s making a collage of pictures of all the pets they have had during their marriage. (Which is a shit ton!) I downloaded a driver for his printer, and we successfully printed out one picture. When I showed it to mom, she started crying, so touched to see the picture of a dog they recently had to put down.
Overall, I can sum the trip up with this. Yes, their views frustrate me and make me feel like we don’t understand each other at all. But they are my family and there are so many other aspects of their lives to connect with and cherish. In the end, the differences just don’t matter.
When encountering other people, I need to put the emphasis on finding common ground and things I like, not look for things I don’t like. In fact, all of society needs to remember this in order for any progress to be made towards resolving differences.
You are special just the way you are!