This was originally published on my self-hosted blog, October 3, 2006.
So, the family get-together this past weekend was fun.
No, I’m not just saying that. We were the first family (in-town) to arrive so we had our out-of-town guests’ full attention. We caught up and miraculously, I was able to keep the conversation going without having to endure any of those awkward silences that accompany small talk.
People are good. We got to meet my husband’s second cousin’s baby and she’s one of the sweetest little girls I’ve ever met. She didn’t know a stranger. She immediately held up a hand and flashed us all a smile (translation: hello). She was passed around and over-stimulated and still, the girl was all smiles. She was a real trooper and a real treat to play with.
I occasionally experience pockets of time when I severely wish we had tried for one more child, just another chance to perhaps have a girl this time, and being around T. this past weekend, well, it was one of those times.
The rest of the family trickled in and we all had a good meal of tacos and enchiladas together. We exchanged news:
Me: “How was your vacation in Florida?”
SIL: “Great! The best family vacation we’ve ever had together. The weather was perfect, we all had a good time doing things together. It was hard to come back.”
Me to other SIL: “How was your camping trip last week?”
Other SIL: “Wet. It rained on us the whole time we were there …”
Interrupted by my nephew: “Not the whole time, mom. We had decent weather the last two days.”
Another nephew pipes in: “We went swimming in the lake and MAN! Talk about freezing! I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the other side.”
My uncle-in-law: “So, what’s new with you? Still doing the website thing?”
Me: “Oh yeah. I’ve picked up a few clients, things are going well.” I quickly change the subject because I LOATHE talking about myself. “How is California?”
I turn to my husband’s second cousin, the one with the new baby. “So, how is motherhood treating you?”
Cousin-in-law: “Great! It’s been really tough, but I’m starting to get the hang of it.”
Me: “I hear T. is going to be a year old next month. Are you gearing up for a big party?”
Cousin-in-law: “Oh yeah, of course!”
Another uncle-in-law: “Hey, have you seen my new scooter?”
Me: “No, but I’ve heard about it. How are you liking it?”
Uncle-in-law: “Love it.”
My mother-in-law: “Hey! It’s time to eat everyone!”
Everyone continues talking.
MIL: “Get in here now before it gets cold!”
And the afternoon droned on. Small talk here, chit-chat there. It was like playing musical chairs only with conversation.
A few relatives are doing VERY well. I can’t help but be just a tiny bit jealous of their success. Not that they don’t deserve it, but I suppose it’s human nature to be a little envious of others. My life is pretty boring in comparison. I loathe talking about myself because well, there’s not much to talk about. My life is on an even keel and I like it like that. I’m not a risk taker, I’m not involved in any extra-curricular activities, I don’t have any funny friends’ adventures to talk about – people have to suppress yawns when they are around me.
I get really uncomfortable when it comes time to compare achievements. I really don’t feel like I have too many to my name. And certainly nothing new since the last time I saw them. I have to wonder if they noticed how I completely glossed over my life and turned the questions back on them.
I find I do that a lot. I hate being the center of attention, for any reason. I prefer to just lurk in the shadows and complete thankless jobs. That’s why I love websites so much; I can do so much behind the scenes. The schools are all grateful for my work, but there are very few people who have actually seen me. All of my correspondence is through email and I have to confess, I really like it like that.
As I was sitting there, listening to success story after success story, a small bitter lump began to form in my chest. Here I am, 40-something years old and what exactly do I have to show for it? I had dreams of being published several times over by this time.
But I have to honest with myself – whose fault is that? I have no one to blame but myself for my lack of achievements. I haven’t pushed myself. I haven’t submitted anything because as long as no one sees my work, then I can fool myself into thinking it’s halfway decent – that I still have a shot at being a successful writer.
I left the gathering on Sunday with a heavy heart. I’m determined to have something to show the next time they are down here. Not so much to impress them, or to make my family proud of me, but to impress myself, to be proud of myself and to have tangible proof that I’m worth something, damn it.
Have you ever been jealous of your family members?