evie altman
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siblings

i make mistakes. a lot. those committed as a parent, specific times i could’ve handled things differently (better) stick around my mind more than others.

rewind 21 years. during mo’s first year, i let her lead me in mothering. i decided to try, above all else, to listen to what she (and subsequently marxe and satch) were telling me (vocally, emotionally, physically) and respond to those needs the best way i could, aside from all the regular making-food-cleaning-vomit-waking-in-the-middle-of-the-night responsibilities. in most ways, i believe i’ve succeeded, and no i’m not talking about scott dying and taking over because that is just what it is. i mean helping my kids become balanced, aware, kind adults. 

rewind 50 years. “you will always have your family,” my mom’s mantra repeated over and over and over, year after year, especially when my sisters and brother and i screamed at each other, clawed, claimed unfairness, threw worms, etc. mom always emphasized the importance of my brother and sisters and i communicating well and relying on each other. i hear it, still, always, in her voice. although my mom and i disagree on many things, this one rings really really true.* not just because my sisters and brother are the closest people in the world to me, but because it does feel easier (sometimes) getting through ridiculously difficult events KNOWING, deep inside, that someone has my back. that if i called one of them, they would be here as soon as humanly possible or stay on the phone for hours while life continued around them. that they have. yeah, i have some friends like that, but not that i’ve known my whole life or that have remained that way for my whole life. i love and feel the ups and downs of my brother and sisters. and yes, i know, we grew into this. so wanted to separate from my siblings as a teen. but did i ever truly dislike them for long periods? selective memory? maybe.

naturally, my kids’ relationship with each other forms a parental measure of success.

no other way to say it. major problems in this area. and it’s importance is my deal, not theirs, i realize that. and they are individuals with their own reasons, experiences, reactions. but i do feel that i’ve failed as a mom in this significant way. such a deep-seated, psychologically fraught issue with so many layers for them; i’ll continue to try to help them fix it. but i love each of them so much, and to know that they don’t feel they can rely on each other (when i go, or if something happens to me) and that they may be fighting … that makes me so sad.

maybe i should have been more hands-on. maybe i should have guided their arguments more, helped them to empathize more with each other. doesn’t matter now. it’s the past, and mistakes happened. so i move forward from today.

give it time. keep working with it. seems kinda irreparable, but it can’t be, right? accepting the alternative, that they won’t ever make it, that they’ll continue at odds through the rest of my life, and theirs — no. in denial? maybe. gosh, i hope not. 

*for me. i get dysfunction and inexcusable behavior. and the irony of my mom and her sister’s non-relationship hangs on, which is probably why it meant so much to her for us to be close.