Suburban Snapshots

Advice on Advice

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The first counselor we saw — the one who didn't find swingers humor appropriate in the therapeutic environment — said something to us that I'm not sure I ever absorbed, or intended to absorb, or maybe I just don't know how to begin putting into practice.

In outlining the ways in which Steve and I needed to "circle our wagons" she said, "He is your family. Your immediate family isn't your primary family anymore. Your husband and daughter are your family."

Putting aside my distaste for Pioneer metaphors, it seems like a big ol' duh concept. Of course they are my family. We share a house, we're together all the time, we rely on each other for small things like hanging up wet towels, and big things like sorting out finances and making sure the Keurig is powered on by 6 a.m.

But then I realized that what she was saying was basically, "You don't get to be the kid anymore. You're in charge of this group. You are a grown-ass woman." And that kind of made me pee in my pants a little bit.

In my family, all us kids still feel taken care of. At 32, 34, and 37, we are still collectively The Girls. We are all three mothers with families and responsibilities. We take care of our jobs and our kids, we cook dinners and clean bathrooms, we pay our parking tickets and show up for jury duty.

At the same time though, we all talk to our mom almost every day. We talk to each other multiple times a day plus texting, Facebook, iChat. We share things between us that our spouses don't know — or don't know yet. When we all lost power last winter in the same storm, even 40 miles apart, we converged, families in tow, on Mom's house, where the generator and wood stove kept us warm and fed, where we were all taken care of.

Maybe I misinterpreted the counselor's message, or maybe my family is more attached than most. Maybe in some circumstances that's not as beneficial as I always felt.

I need help translating what the therapist said into something I can actually do. Can I still be Mom, Honey, and one of the kids? Can I circle my wagon and still gab ten times a day with my sisters, my mom? You guys are smart, tell me what you'd do.

Edit: your comments so far have done more to clarify this than the counselor could. I'mma fire her and hire you guys. You cool with that?

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