We put a lot of emphasis on honoring our children and who they are as individuals. This is part of unschooling, possibly the most important aspect of the lifestyle.
What I have been trying to do lately is to honor the other people in our lives as individuals as well. That is not as easy especially when people are family and radically different. Because honoring is respecting who they are and their boundaries even if they tromp on ours, or if their lifestyle is completely foreign to how we live- even antithesis.
For example, I have a big ol ranty blog entry festering in draft mode about big expensive weddings. Of course that is inspired by my sister's encroaching event. It stays in draft because I can't find any value to putting it out there. Who cares if my wedding was like 10,000% less expensive than hers? It is very similar to the time when I criticized a couple for wanting to build a three bedroom edition onto their seven bedroom mansion when all they had and planned to have was two children. Waste of space. You know what? None of my business where or how people spend their money. If a big expensive one night shin dig makes you happy then all the people employed are better for it. No one is forcing people to pay for it, it is all by choice. Who am I to get all high an' mighty about it?
The real reason I was feeling so acidic about it is two fold. I chose not to be a part of the wedding party, I practically begged her to forgive me and not include me. It would create less drama for her all around given my estrangement from the main part of the family. What that means though is that I also got excluded from all the accessory events like the shower and bachelorette party and dress fitting and cake tasting and and and all of those things. Every last one of them. Which just brings the reality of the family situation into sharp detail for me. It hurts. Sometimes doing the right thing is hard, other times it is harder. This is one of them.
The second part is that I am really anxious about the wedding itself. Other family that will be staying with us critiquing my parenting over the phone doesn't help. Especially since it is obviously from things she has heard and doesn't know from me directly. The wedding will put me into the pit of vipers as far as family goes, the estrangement has valid reasons was mutually agreed upon by most involved and the one individual who was not part of the discussion but the main reason for is dangerously mentally ill. Makes a fun cast for a tension and alcohol fueled expensive formal event, right?
So never mind the rant. Expensive weddings hold up our economy. I'll be going to one soon. I'm nervous. There you have it. Back to the main point. I may not understand my sisters desire for the event but I need to be better at supporting her and honoring who she is.
I need to be more supportive of other family members too. Our farm is a family effort and each person brings different talents and desires both to the table. While I want a big apple orchard, I certainly don't want to be out there alone picking apples and hauling them to market. It's a family farm not a Mama Podkayne farm. Sometimes that also means having an understanding of other family members' food phobias and making allowances when preparing shared meals. It means keeping Diet Coke in the ice box. There you go.
The whole idea of this is bigger than individual situations or conflicts though. It is about looking at each one and asking, is this important to me or to them? How important? Is it worth creating a negative space or moment? I use this with my spouse, child, and now other family. Sometimes it means that I get pictures of cows hung in my hallway because it makes MIL happy, and that makes me happy, and I am indifferent to the cows. It's just stuff, but it is her talent and her contribution and that has value. Sometimes it means just letting go of the idea that I'll get my laundry room vented outside anytime soon. I'll but a fan in the window and launder on cooler days. It's just not worth it to pitch fits when there are so many other things that Dearest is working really hard on.
This is just the beginning though. I am working on a more peaceful family life. Sometimes I just hightail it to the gooseberry patch when I should mediate or be a voice of reason, but I am more of the flight rather than fight type of bird.