Chickenhead's birthday party is coming up this weekend, and it's a bit bittersweet. My brother and his family will be here, which I'm really looking forward to. I've contacted my ex-sister-in-law, and she's going to bring our nephews to the party. Which is all good, but I still feel a bit sad.
The Husband's family is in tatters. He has a grandfather who is in the final stages of pancreatic cancer, and a grandmother who's in the early stages of Alzheimer's. My MIL, who's often been the centerpiece to many of my stories, is rapidly descending into a black hole of drug addiction and mental illness. My brother in law(the Husband's brother) won't speak to us at all, and my FIL doesn't have much to say, either.
I see how much all of this hurts the Husband and it saddens me. I see how much it upsets Chickenhead and that saddens me even more. It's hard to explain to my son why his uncle won't speak to us, or why his grandfather doesn't call or contact him. The Husband has been taking Chickenhead over to my FIL's house to go swimming, which I guess is some progress, but Chickenhead notices that his grandfather and dad hardly speak to each other. Chickenhead notices that we're not invited to family events. I find myself flip-flopping between thinking maybe it's better if Chickenhead isn't around such dysfunction so much, or thinking that good or bad, this is the only family he's got.
As our children grow, they become much more aware of their environment, and the interactions of their family members. Kids can sense tension, anger and resentment. I hate to just dismiss Chickenhead's questions with, 'you're too young to understand', but how much do I tell him? How do you deal with sticky family situations and your kids? Thoughts?