I am still annoyed with myself at how much I allow my brother and his wife annoy me.
The reality is that I hear from them hardly never (even though he is my only sibling and lives only about 40 miles away). And when I do hear from them, I find their tiny bits of contact irritating beyond belief.
For example, since we announced that we were expecting, I have only received a couple of emails from my brother asking about my welfare. Clearly, picking up the phone and actually conversing with me or, god forbid, stopping by my house on his daily car commute into Chicago, is WAY too much effort and trouble. As for his wife, not a single call since June. And while I don't particularly want to talk to her anyway (she is frequently a rude and overly judgemental person with whom I have little in common), it's hard not to be irritated at her total lack of interest when I called and saw them many times during both her pregnancies, attended baby showers and even used my own vacation time to care for their toddler for four days when their second child was born (for which, I really didn't even get so much as a "thank you").
Oh, I forgot. I have gotten one email from sister-in-law though in the past few months: it was a list of gifts that would be appropriate for her children for their birthdays in September. That was it. No inquiries about how I was doing. No niceties. Just an outline of the things I could buy for her children.
It's been years since they've made any effort for us to spend any of the holidays together (instead making their own plans, never taking me into account), so in the past few years, I have done the same. This means that, typically, I spend most holidays with my husband's family as they are warm and welcoming and I thoroughly enjoy spending time with them. It is a pleasure, not an obligation. It is how family togetherness should be.
Likewise, since even organizing a lunch meeting with my brother's family at a restaurant on any given weekend in their neighborhood is a thankless undertaking (they are perpetually "busy" and never make the effort to try and initiate plans with me, it's always me being turned down), I pretty much gave up a while back.
So, yesterday, I get an email from my brother wanting us to drive 90 minutes out to the burbs to celebrate "Thanksgiving" together a week from this coming Sunday. And when I called him this morning to let him know that we couldn't come as we have a prior commitment (a breastfeeding class at our hospital), I think he was genuinely annoyed.
He makes no effort to see me since June, neither he nor his wife bother to call me about the fact that they are blowing off my baby shower (just like they did both my wedding showers) or call me for any reason for that matter from June through November and now he just expects me to be free at his convenience a few days before Thanksgiving to drive 1.5 hours to his home and back. Yeah. Right.
Given the fact that our mother has been dead for over 23 years and our father has been in a nursing home with dementia for more than five years and the rest of our extended family lives overseas, you'd think my brother might be a little more thankful for the one living, sane, blood relative that he has living on this continent (aside from his own young children). But clearly this is not the case. And I pretty much accepted this years ago since after bringing it to my brother's attention, he has made little effort to change.
So, why do I still even care? And why, oh why, do I let myself get so riled up about it all?
I think it's because of the pretense that my brother likes to carry on when it suits him (i.e. that we are still a "family," that we still are connected). And I feel bad that my relationship with my niece and nephew is not that close, but that's really down to their parents, not me. It's pretty much hard to develop a relationship with kids you are hardly ever allowed to see.
I'm sure that my son (who still with six weeks of "cooking" to go, weighs in at 6lbs, 8 oz according to my latest ultrasound--the doctor actually called him a "moose!"), will have much closer relationships with his uncles who live hundreds of miles away than the one who lives just down the road. And that's a real shame. But one that I finally need to accept that I can do little about.