This picture of me, my daughters, and daughter-in-law was taken at a “Hen Party” I hosted over a decade ago. In fact, I referred to our jaunts as “Foxes in the Hen House.” Its premise was a break for me and “the girls” with no kids, no men. We’d spend a lazy weekend in a beach house working on our tan while subsisting on chili con queso, brownies and beer. My intent was to promote family bonding and build fond memories.
We all love this picture because we all look happy, almost as if we like each other. It captures an ideal that we somehow never reached, other than for a few photo ops. It’s a good thing our hen parties were confined to a weekend because by the time we went home we were usually not nearly that cheerful. All my kids are very different, except for having strong personalities. Of course I have no idea where that came from.
Relationships are complicated, especially in families. You can’t choose your family (at least not in this life) so you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Which means you need to work with it the best you can. As an only child raised with TV shows like “The Brady Bunch” I always wanted a big family, thinking they’d always have each other and thus never feel as alone as I had. That isn’t exactly how it turned out. Some don’t like each other, some don’t even like me.
This picture from 2008 was the last time all my kids were together. It was Mothers’ Day, probably the best one ever, when all of us were together. It hasn’t happened since for numerous reasons, some geographic others not.
Hen Party memories bring a wash of nostalgia for other reasons as well. That beach house was in Galveston, Texas and destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. We could never go back there for old times sake, even if we wanted to. But the memories live on. Sometimes that’s all you have.
When storms strike relationships they, too, can be destroyed. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be rebuilt. The trick is to base them on something more substantial than sand. Like love, compassion and understanding.
I never got along with my mother and now that she’s gone I finally understand her. Hopefully someday it will be the same for my kids.