Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Jan in Real Life
I just spent nearly five days in Sun Valley, Idaho with my in-laws (minus my spouse for the first few days, which made things especially interesting.) I can already see you raising your eyebrows and envisioning flames, pitchforks, and red hot coals. So before I go on, let me tell you that my in-laws may well be the most respected, generous, powerful and widely loved people you could hope to meet. All of them. Right down to the toddlers. My amazing mother-in-law had all boys, and they are all excellent people: Strong, hardworking, handsome, faithful, charming, dynamic, chivalrous, humorous, and kind. All of them. They also cook and change diapers. (Some better than others.)
They married these amazing women who look like Barbie (I honestly used to describe them as Regular Barbie, Malibu Barbie and Skipper), yet they are anything BUT plastic. They’re intelligent, athletic, fun-loving, and kind. They’re also magnificent mothers. I love them all.
And then there’s me .
I supply my own pitchfork and flames.
No need for any outside assistance.
I try not to compare myself to these awe-inspiring people. But sometimes it’s so obvious I can’t help myself. I’m not athletic. (I’m not even okay. I’m a total spaz.) I’m no longer thin, and never have been beautiful, even when well-coiffed or well-dressed. Standing next to these people I am, to quote my mother’s biopsy report, “grossly unremarkable.” And if I dwell on it too long, I can make myself downright miserable. While my room bordered on palatial, I managed to make myself feel like I’d been relegated to the “special room” with the laundry and the dangling light bulb.
His family is great at getting everybody outside playing together. It was non-stop motion for 5 straight days. The kids had a blast. We hiked, rode bikes, played soccer, frisbee, tennis and kick-the can. We swam (I read), shot off bottle rockets, and raced handmade boats down the stream. The boys fished while the girls shopped and had a make-shift spa day (I read). The boys shot off guns at a rifle range (I read, and tried not to wince too visibly). We ice-skated on the outdoor rink (I took photos). The cousins slept over at each other’s condos, and it truly was like one big happy family.
Just like Dan In Real Life, we played together non-stop and enjoyed being together. And just like Dan In Real Life, I was miserably single for the first two-thirds of the trip. And just like Dan In Real Life, I realized that my real and ideal selves are not necessarily the same, or even compatible. I gained a lot of insight as to who I am and who I want to be, who my kids want me to be, and how I can improve. And while I may have lost a pound or two, I gained some weighty new perspective on all these complex relationships.
And then my hubby arrived, and suddenly I fit. He is my link to this group of astonishingly near-perfect people. Our being Together somehow made everything Right.