After spending years and years being upset, sad, hurt, and/or angry with them, I've come to a place in my life with pretty low expectations. Years and years of family members telling us that they were going to come watch Keaton play a game and/or visit...and then having them cancel at the last minute...made me (and especially Keaton) feel disappointed. Not being included in family pictures prepared me for feeling unimportant. Putting my heart and soul into making scrapbooks for family members and most of them never even saying thank you has left me feeling empty. Spending hours making videos for them and not having most of them even say thank you has left me feeling unappreciated. Not replying to emails, messages, or texts has left me feeling unimportant. Not being included in things has left me feeling unliked. Having my father and beloved dog pass and not having many of them take a minute from their busy lives to express their condolences has left me feeling unloved. (Even an email or text would have been appreciated.)
Keaton and his girlfriend, Autumn, drove over to attend my nephew's open house in Flint for a short time. It was the first time most of them had met Autumn. I just have to say I'm really disappointed in most of our family who was there. I shouldn't be. I really shouldn't be. I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe that they would actually TALK to her? Maybe LISTEN to her and have a conversation with her? I am shocked at their total lack of interest in Autumn. There's a high probability that Autumn could be a member of our family one day and I'm saddened by how she was ignored. I guess I just had my expectations set too high.
Don't get me wrong...not everyone was rude. Some were interested in her and enjoyed talking with her and listening to her. If people joined the conversation, they'd learn that she has a good sense of humor, is bright, is kind, enjoys people and animals, and brings out the silliness in Keaton. Plus, she's gorgeous! She makes Keaton happy and it's soooooo great to see him happy! I think she's really good for him!!
It's taken me 25 years to accept the things I cannot change. I can't force people to like me or accept me. I can't force them to have a close relationship with us or with Keaton. True, we chose to live away from our family. However, in our defense, we made a conscious effort to include them in our lives. We've video-taped and taken pictures of every step of Keaton on his journey through life. We've sent letters, cards, sports schedules, school schedules, pictures, videos, and emails over the years. We've called with updates. I even started a blog almost eight years ago, hoping our family could feel connected to us. (Sadly, I don't even know if anyone even reads it.) True, Keaton could have made a bigger effort to strengthen the bonds, but I honestly don't believe that forming a close relationship is the sole responsibility of a child.
It's taken me 25 years to have the courage to change the things I can. Well, I've tried to change things. I've tried to talk to some family members about the lack of a close relationship with Keaton, but they just get defensive and deny what I'm trying to tell them. I now avoid most family functions because I pretty much leave them feeling upset, sad, and hurt. Years and years of not feeling liked or being included kind of does that to you: not being given showers or invited to showers...or only being invited at the last minute as an afterthought; having family members make plans right in front of you and then not asking if you'd like to be included; having family members take photos and not take any of you...with you sitting right next to the person they're photographing; Keaton and I not even being included in family photos...even after being told we could have them taken when we arrived; not being thanked for something you've given them (Sorry, telling someone to tell me thank you is not the same as thanking me personally.); being excluded in gifts the rest of the family receives. (I could go on and on, but this is getting too long as it is.) So, I've done what most people do when they're hurt...I've just shut down.
It's taken me 25 years to have the wisdom to know the difference. I've learned the difference between those that care and those that care when it's convenient. Boy, I sure do miss my dad. He would call a few times a month just to see how Keaton was doing. He was the only one who ever asked to have Keaton come stay with him. He always commented on anything I sent him or gave him. He always fussed over any scrapbook I made for him and thanked me. He ranted and raved about Keaton's open house memorabilia. Even after my dad left the open house, he immediately called minutes later just to tell me again how much he enjoyed all of Keaton's memorabilia and how wonderful Keaton was. That made me cry. I sat on the porch and sobbed as Keaton's open house was wrapping up. I was happy that my dad got it...that he cared so much and made it a priority to have a close relationship with Keaton. But I was also sad that not many others got it. And that's what is so sad...people are missing out on having a close relationship with a wonderful person. They don't have to like me or include me, but I really want them to include Keaton. He is kind, funny, sensitive, smart, handsome, caring, loyal, giving, athletic, fun-loving, playful, and loving. He knows he's loved by our family and we are thankful for that. But, sadly, he has learned not to expect to be included in much with our family. I just want our family to know how special he is and to try and include him in their lives. And to include Autumn. I just hope I'm not setting my expectations too high.