This word can say a lot. In fact, let’s define the word first:
Underwhelm: un·der·whelm ( n d r-hw lm , -w lm ). tr.v. un·der·whelmed, un·der·whelm·ing, un·der·whelms. To fail to excite, stimulate, or impress.
Mmmkay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk a little bit about family. I will attempt not to use the phrase ‘WTF’ sporadically throughout this posting, although it will be a test of sheer will. Because some things just make you say, “What the everloving FUCK?!” But I will maintain restraint. I will merely discuss my displeasure at the UNDERWHELMING actions of certain family members.
Now, here’s the thing. We are both part of fairly small families. Jason’s family is small simply because he’s an only child, not too many extended relatives, etc. My family is small because, well, people just seem to keep resigning from it. At this point, I’m thinking two weeks’ notice might be too much consideration, and even if they received such a correspondence, they wouldn’t really understand the reasons behind it. Denial…it’s not just a river.
And here’s why I think that. See, they have received resignation notices before, from previously close family members, and in these notices, they have been given explicit details about the level of fed-up-ness with the dysfunction of this entire clan. For example, the notices have contained suggestions like maybe certain people should stop overtly choosing favorites. Or maybe we just shouldn’t be outright shitheads to each other—that would work, too. Maybe we should stop talking about each other like we belong in little high school cliques, or maybe we should even just be grateful that we have each other at all. Just ideas, and clearly they are beneath the powers that be in this family.
But sometimes people don’t learn from this. There are literally family members I have not seen since childhood because of the sheer level of dysfunction that exists in this particular tree. I mean, forget the drinking and lying and hulk-like rages, and forget the pretending and posturing and better-than-you-ness that oozes from the pages of this little family album. Right now, let’s just talk about the ability to underwhelm.
You know, if you have a limited number of family members, and IF those family members (for some ungodly reason) still want to invite you to their events, and IF you have nothing better to do than…oh, say, posture and pretend a little more that you are Mother Theresa or even the ass-wiper to the Pope, maybe you should reconsider your priorities. Maybe you should consider the fact that your grandchildren are the ONLY ones on this earth that are still slightly snowed by you. Maybe you should PRETEND not to be put out when their events come up.
I know people with grandparents that invite the kids over for a week in the summer. Or they invite them on weekend outings. Or at the very least, they know what their grandkids are interested in, AND they take pride in the fact that they are active in their lives. Ok, here it comes, WTF is wrong with this family? (Sorry for the ‘WTF,’ but it was just hanging there in the eaves, begging to be used.)
If this were a true resignation letter, I would go into more detail, but suffice it to say, at the very least I am learning that I do not want to underwhelm my grandkids, my kids, or my family in general (well, except for the extended family that doesn’t seem to care about reciprocating that underwhelming feeling).
My grandkids will be invited to my house. I will be interested in their activities. I will NOT (not EVER) pick favorites or make fun of any of them. I will not alienate my children by being demanding and bossy and insisting that I be the Queen Matriarch of the family. This is what I have learned. And it’s only taken me 40 years. WT-everloving-F?!
P.S. If you think this is a vent about you, it probably is.
P.P.S. If you are in denial, as you were.
P.P.P.S. Weakness is a choice. I will walk WHEREVER to see my grandkids.