A period of adjustment is always necessary when a family member reenters your life on a daily basis after being away at school or on vacation. I know this from personal experience, having an older sister who went to school out of state and proceeded to move to a different continent. When Megan would come back from school or holiday to celebrate Christmas or what have you with the rest of our family, there was always a mixture of excitement and dread. It seemed so fun and exhilarating to have Megan back after not seeing her for months… But I quickly realized that along with pleasant moments catching up on life and sharing fits of unstoppable laughter with Megan, I would have to get used to daily hearing tearful accounts of her recent struggles, learn to accept that she hadn’t matured quite as much as my idealistic self had hoped, and get used to her occasional screaming fit directed at me.
It is easier to talk about readjustment when it is your sister with whom you are relearning to live, but it is a bit more difficult when it is you for whom the entire family is shifting their daily routines (or when it is you who have to relearn to live not just with one more person but with three, upon reentry to the family).
Such is what happens each time that I come back from university. Mom has to make more time to accommodate not one but two daughters. Dad has to get used to having an entire other estrogen machine in his home. Mom and Dad seem to manage pretty well even though it is a bit uncomfortable. But it is my little sis, Lydia, who has the most difficult time accepting me back into her daily life. She suddenly has to share mom’s attention with me. She suddenly has to share dad’s attention with me. She has to accept the fact that there is now another person in the house who will be laughing, talking, crying, and occasionally complaining. It will be louder than it was before. There will be more emotion to deal with than there was before.
Lydia is quick to tell me that I am being rude to her or that I have been complaining too much. I listen graciously to her and then fairly point out that there have been several instances in just the last few days in which I have been encouraging to her, extended her patience, and even had fun with her. But it seems the positive, in this case, is very easily dismissed and the negative dwelled on.
I am very aware that my family members are getting used to having me back at home. But they don’t seem to consider the fact that I, too, am readjusting. I am readjusting to everything, not just family… And this really hits me hard especially at this very moment during which I am staying home for an indeterminate amount of time because of health issues. My health, however invisible it may be to the common eye, has, for the moment, taken a lot away from me. Does my family, does my little sister, realize that I am not just readjusting to them? To her? I am readjusting to not working. I am readjusting to being out of school. I am readjusting to being away from friends. I am readjusting to not having the independence I had at university. I am readjusting to being away from my church. I am trying to accept the fact that I can’t really exercise, I can’t do much in terms of “getting out,” and I certainly cannot plan my future.
It is a struggle to determine which battles are worth fighting and which battles are worth leaving to the course of nature as I spend more time at home with my family, watching my life become completely reshaped in ways that I never could have anticipated.