Off in the way way distant future (since we've already decided that the ChickieNob needs to remain pure and virginal until she's about 38), when the twins are married with children of their own, I want them to hang out in my kitchen. I want to be baking cookies and slapping their hands away from the ones on the cooling racks and hearing about their problems at work. I want to be the go-to person for babysitting. I mean, the other grandmother can be a go-to person too, but I want to babysit instead of someone outside the family.
Even if they end up living far away and can't spend every evening in my kitchen (since that would be a lot of cookies and possibly a heart attack waiting to happen), I want them to be anxious that I'm still going to make a huge Succot meal that they can attend or host the family vacation each summer at our lavish beach house (oh...because if you're going to wish, you should wish big and include a beach house).
In other words, I want to hip check Sally Field off the set of Brothers & Sisters and appropriate the space for my own family to live life like the Walkers.
I didn't start watching Brothers & Sisters until the writer's strike so I'm picking up the second season DVD today so I can catch up on the first half of the season which I missed the first time around. I like family television shows. It started with Family Ties--I was completely obsessed with Family Ties and wrote Michael J. Fox a love letter that is still quoted in my family to this day. There was Growing Pains and Party of Five. I'm surprised it took me so long to find Brothers & Sisters.
I think people watch family dramas for different reasons. I watch Brothers & Sisters with a fellow blogger (we exchange emails as we watch the episode) and she watches it because it's the family she always wished she had. I thought that I watched it because it's the family I do have--I'm close with my siblings and while we all live far apart (albeit on the east coast), we do tend to congregate at my parent's house. We play dirty Mah Jongg and tease my mother that we're going to make popcorn on her clean stovetop. This summer, I'll go on holiday with my sister and my brother just helped me pick up the twins from preschool on the first day I left the building. I thought I liked the television show because it reminded me of that cozy sense of family where my brothers (I call my brother-in-law my brother because once you enter our family, you are simply family without qualifiers) helped us run the twins' birthday party or taking my niece to the zoo.
But I think it's more than that. It's about what I want for myself not on this plateau--with my own brothers and sister--it's about this distant future where I am the mother and I am the grandmother.
We were watching an episode from the first season of Brothers & Sisters a few nights ago and I heard myself blurt out, "I want that. I want five children."
But I don't. I mean, I don't want five babyhoods back-to-back. I am barely surviving the emotions of having the twins in preschool the first time around--I can't imagine putting myself through this four more times.
What I really mean is that I want to have five grown children who are all close to one another and close to me. I want the full house--I want the overfull house. My mother has what I want and she can't tell me what she did to get it. When we're all there with our partners and our children and we're taking over her space, the house is so damn full. It is loud and boisterous and we're tormenting each other with all the ways we teased each other as children and we're caring for each other in ways you can only do as an adult.
And I'm scared that our house will never feel full. I know it's not about a number. You can get that fullness with two children. You can get fullness with one child. So I know that it's not just about having a third child. The volume doesn't come from the number of people.
My fear comes from this: whether or not I get that true sense of fullness--the volume and energy that comes from people who enjoy being with one another--is completely outside my control. You can't create that. You make so many decisions for your children that you forget that you can't control whether they love you. Whether they want to be with you when they're older because...it's a choice. It's a choice we all make--do we want to cut ties or do we want to remain close or do we want to walk a middle road of obligation without the joy that comes from having your heart fully invested in the decision.
I don't know how to ensure that I get the fullness of family in the future. I get a strong sense that the stage is being set right now--that there are life experiences that push people one way or the other and it's not solely events that occur in the house. Our personalities, how we see the world, are shaped by everyone we come in contact with during our life.
And it terrifies me--this starting of preschool--because for the first time, the twins are outside the home. They are being influenced by others and those others are affecting how the twins view themselves and view our home and view their own wants and needs. It's a lot of power to put on another person, but I do believe that other people hold a lot of power unless we consciously wrest power from them. And I don't think that a four-year-old is capable of that.
So I do have a lot of fears that others won't be gentle with them. Gentle with their hearts. I know that they won't because I've certainly never met a person who got through life only interacting with those who were kind. We've all run into shitty people. Even good people, who have never done anything purposeful to make us feel shitty end up affecting us anyway when we compare ourselves. All of it serves a purpose--to build character, to teach us how we want to treat people in life, to guide us towards those who do have our best interests at heart. But along the way, before we get to the point, those people also shape who we are and lead us either away or towards family.
It's a lot of blame to put on preschool. I mean, if things go right and I end up with the adult children all crammed in my sukkah for a Succot dinner, I'm certainly not going to give those fellow preschoolers credit for raising children who want to remain close with family. But if things go wrong, you better believe I'm holding that crappy little child accountable who said rude things to my son last week.
Rather than spend another minute fuming about that child (because, believe me, I have spent way too many minutes wishing that the crappy child fails all of her future spelling tests in school and gets held back to a lower grade's spelling group...which happened to me so I know it feels exquisitely humiliating), I am going to head off to the mall to purchase the second season of Brothers & Sisters. And covet--not the sibling relationships per se, but the mother who has all of her children still around her.