What is a perfect family? Everyone has their own idea of what they deem to be a perfect family. Let me share you mine. A suburban, middle-class family of four. There is a loving father that smokes a pipe, who dotes on his children and works for a company that he has been a part of for a long time. He is married to his wife of ten years who is a homemaker and enjoys cooking dinner for the family, reading and knitting. They have two kids that are a few years apart with the possibility of a third on the way. They excel at a variety of activities, such as karate or gymnastics. They eat dinner every night as a family and sometimes go out on Thursdays when the mother doesn’t feel like cooking. They have family nights where they watch films, play board games or charades. I developed this idea from many of the books I would read and movies I had seen. Everyone was so happy.
I came from a single parent home. My dad was not in the picture. It was just my mom, sister and me. It was difficult.
My mom was not very affectionate. Hugs were a rarity. She didn’t like to be touched. Kisses from her were nonexistent. She didn’t like germs. There are no recent pictures of me and her. She doesn’t like to be photographed. When I was young, she did not mind these things, but now she considers them a burden. She expected so much from me. I remember I was yelled at for having a C. It was my way of defying her be receiving a C in the easiest class imaginable: orchestra.
My sister and I hardly ever got along. I can tell you all the fights we’ve had then the times we have gotten along. We couldn’t be trusted be alone together because of this. We would get into fights, arguments or disputes. I remember when I sitting in the living on the floor (she used to hog the couch), watching TV. She hurled a pillow at me and spun around and immediately glared at her. She hollered, “Mom! She hit me with a pillow!” My mom didn’t even come into the living room to see what had happened, she just yelled my full name in anger. Our relationship would only grow worse. She was manipulative, sneaky and cunning. I didn’t feel all that bad when she fell out of our second story window.
I was envious of my friends’ families. In my eyes, they were perfect. They had both parents and siblings that they actually got along with each other.
My favorite movie growing up was Now and Then. It’s a coming of age dramedy about four twelve-year-old girls experiencing life in their small town in the 1970’s. I saw it when I was about nine or ten years old and I really didn’t understand many parts of it because I was still fairly young. Watching it again, I finally understand the dirty jokes as well as the other parts that I may have missed. There was a particular part in the movie where two of the girls, Teenie and Sam were talking about their families. Sam was afraid to tell them that her father left. She said that she wanted her family to be perfect like the TV families. Teenie then said:
“There are no perfect families. It’s normal for things to be shitty.”
I couldn’t agree with her more. We have this idea of a perfect family when in fact there are no perfect families. What may seem “perfect” is actually not. Everyone has their own problems and some a better at not showing them by giving you a perfect exterior. It’s normal when your family is not perfect. I just wish it didn’t take this long to see it.