Tall Drink of Nerd: Family Order

 In *Archives, Fierce and Nerdy, Month of Minefields

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a blogumn by Amy Robinson

In the spirit of Ernessa’s Month of Minefields, I would like to toss in my own sparkly firecracker.  This isn’t going to be as controversial as her blogumns on inter-racial marriage, (honestly, I was surprised that inter racial marriage/relationships are still controversial, but I am living in my naïve world where love trumps race or gender.). My tender spot hits close to home.  How do you fit in the family?  Me, I’m the black(ish) sheep.

My family is populated with incredibly nice people.  We get along well.  Experiencing our recent family traumas has brought us closer together, but still… I’m different.

Run Away!

One of these things is not like the others.

I am the weirdo, oddball in my family.  How did I get this distinction?  As the fifth child, my role in our house was to be the spoiled baby girl.  It’s a part I embraced in an embarrassing way as a snotty teenage girl.  After I moved thousands of miles away, they were left with that residual image of me.

That was the start.  Now, everything I think or believe is pretty much contrary to the rest of the brood, and it is all the biggies: politics, religion and breeding.

I avoid talking about those subjects when I am home.  My family has a very High conflict avoidance gene.  If it isn’t necessary to disagree, then why do it, is the Henry motto.  The religion and family creation are the smaller pieces of our disconnection.  While every one in the family has their own religious belief, I respect their viewpoint and their faith, even if it isn’t mine.  I know that they love me as I am, even if they think I’ll be Left Behind.

I’ve come more into the fold after I married my main man Seen.  My folks, and a few siblings, weren’t happy when we were living together for 11 years before the wedding day.  As for kids, the little feet pitter pattering in my house are covered with fur.  They’re called cats (not mutant, furry children.)  Of the 12 people over the age of 20 in my family, only one fellow Henry is without a baby.  She will be getting married next June.  I think she’s making plans for progeny, but I don’t want to put words in her mouth.

The politics has gotten to be a much bigger elephant in the room in the past 9 years as the country under our feet has divided itself more.  The only people I feel moderately comfortable being honest and open with are my sister and my mother.  Even then, I play it very close to the vest.  I do stand up for the viewpoints I think are critically important, like civil rights for gay people, but most political disagreements seem ridiculous to argue with relatives. Time is too limited.

I’m curious to see how you guys handle family conflict and your differences?  Do you argue your point until the wee morning hours?  Did you move to another state?  Has it been 5 years since you talked to your brother because you voted for W and he was a Kerry man?  Have you blocked your cousin from Facebook?  Or do you fit in, like a corner piece of blue sky on your family puzzle?

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Showing 41 comments
  • jenny

    I must admit, while I feel that my family does love me, when it comes down to the black and white of it, i thought that I was the theoretical black sheep. I moved further away than anyone in my family ever had before. I was the first family member to live in & visit europe since the family left, literally, on the mayflower. I chose an unconventional profession, I support the legalization of gay marriage as well as a few other things; a proud and true democrat. I 'm a christian, but haven't found an organized religion I actually fully believe in. I could go on with the list, that is much like yours. For a good part of my twenties I felt rather alienated from my 'no-conflict' family. Until I started chipping away at the walls to find that I wasn't the only one who didn't believe in organized religion, and that gay rights should've need to be debated- they should just exist as a natural human right.
    And all these cracks in the walls came when my Grandfather was sick and the family came closer together. And I realized I wasn't giving my family the credit they deserved, I was alienating myself rather. I feel I have a much more open relationship with my family than I used to. Did i dread clicking the confirm button from my mother's friend request? Hell yeah, but I've learned that while most of them don't know what the heck a costume designer truly does, why I'll never have kids, or why I think Hillary Clinton is the best thing since sliced bread, they do love me unconditionally and apparently always will, even as I continue to push the envelope…sometimes. 🙂

    • AmyQOTWF

      Families are great for loving each other even when different. It's nice to know there are other peeps out there with similar stories, not complete dysfunction, just different.

      You did make me very happy that my Mom doesn't have a computer…yet.

  • jenny

    I must admit, while I feel that my family does love me, when it comes down to the black and white of it, i thought that I was the theoretical black sheep. I moved further away than anyone in my family ever had before. I was the first family member to live in & visit europe since the family left, literally, on the mayflower. I chose an unconventional profession, I support the legalization of gay marriage as well as a few other things; a proud and true democrat. I 'm a christian, but haven't found an organized religion I actually fully believe in. I could go on with the list, that is much like yours. For a good part of my twenties I felt rather alienated from my 'no-conflict' family. Until I started chipping away at the walls to find that I wasn't the only one who didn't believe in organized religion, and that gay rights should've need to be debated- they should just exist as a natural human right.
    And all these cracks in the walls came when my Grandfather was sick and the family came closer together. And I realized I wasn't giving my family the credit they deserved, I was alienating myself rather. I feel I have a much more open relationship with my family than I used to. Did i dread clicking the confirm button from my mother's friend request? Hell yeah, but I've learned that while most of them don't know what the heck a costume designer truly does, why I'll never have kids, or why I think Hillary Clinton is the best thing since sliced bread, they do love me unconditionally and apparently always will, even as I continue to push the envelope…sometimes. 🙂

    • AmyQOTWF

      Families are great for loving each other even when different. It's nice to know there are other peeps out there with similar stories, not complete dysfunction, just different.

      You did make me very happy that my Mom doesn't have a computer…yet.

  • jenny

    I must admit, while I feel that my family does love me, when it comes down to the black and white of it, i thought that I was the theoretical black sheep. I moved further away than anyone in my family ever had before. I was the first family member to live in & visit europe since the family left, literally, on the mayflower. I chose an unconventional profession, I support the legalization of gay marriage as well as a few other things; a proud and true democrat. I 'm a christian, but haven't found an organized religion I actually fully believe in. I could go on with the list, that is much like yours. For a good part of my twenties I felt rather alienated from my 'no-conflict' family. Until I started chipping away at the walls to find that I wasn't the only one who didn't believe in organized religion, and that gay rights should've need to be debated- they should just exist as a natural human right.
    And all these cracks in the walls came when my Grandfather was sick and the family came closer together. And I realized I wasn't giving my family the credit they deserved, I was alienating myself rather. I feel I have a much more open relationship with my family than I used to. Did i dread clicking the confirm button from my mother's friend request? Hell yeah, but I've learned that while most of them don't know what the heck a costume designer truly does, why I'll never have kids, or why I think Hillary Clinton is the best thing since sliced bread, they do love me unconditionally and apparently always will, even as I continue to push the envelope…sometimes. 🙂

    • AmyQOTWF

      Families are great for loving each other even when different. It's nice to know there are other peeps out there with similar stories, not complete dysfunction, just different.

      You did make me very happy that my Mom doesn't have a computer…yet.

  • jenny

    I must admit, while I feel that my family does love me, when it comes down to the black and white of it, i thought that I was the theoretical black sheep. I moved further away than anyone in my family ever had before. I was the first family member to live in & visit europe since the family left, literally, on the mayflower. I chose an unconventional profession, I support the legalization of gay marriage as well as a few other things; a proud and true democrat. I 'm a christian, but haven't found an organized religion I actually fully believe in. I could go on with the list, that is much like yours. For a good part of my twenties I felt rather alienated from my 'no-conflict' family. Until I started chipping away at the walls to find that I wasn't the only one who didn't believe in organized religion, and that gay rights should've need to be debated- they should just exist as a natural human right.
    And all these cracks in the walls came when my Grandfather was sick and the family came closer together. And I realized I wasn't giving my family the credit they deserved, I was alienating myself rather. I feel I have a much more open relationship with my family than I used to. Did i dread clicking the confirm button from my mother's friend request? Hell yeah, but I've learned that while most of them don't know what the heck a costume designer truly does, why I'll never have kids, or why I think Hillary Clinton is the best thing since sliced bread, they do love me unconditionally and apparently always will, even as I continue to push the envelope…sometimes. 🙂

    • AmyQOTWF

      Families are great for loving each other even when different. It's nice to know there are other peeps out there with similar stories, not complete dysfunction, just different.

      You did make me very happy that my Mom doesn't have a computer…yet.

  • janicpanny

    We do love you always & forever & totally respect your points of view, probably way more than you realize. I also know it took a lot of courage on your part to post this. Good for you. You covered the religion thing well – just a side note. I don't presume to know if anyone will be "Left Behind" (never read any of those – not my thing). You're a kind hearted do-good-things person & that's what counts.
    Also – we're all just fine with the no kid thing. Really we are. (not that we're afraid of your offspring or anything…heh). And for the record – only one of us had more than 2 kids.
    As far as other families. My hubby & dad-in-law and the sisters occasionally poke fun at each other politically, but nothing too intense. They argue plenty – they all love to argue, but it's usually about current or past family stuff or trivial things. As in most families I would think, talking is more about catching up and family stuff than anything else.
    One other thing – I think the thing that maybe causes problems in families with different beliefs is an arrogance on either side regarding your point of view. Gotta stay open & understanding I think.
    Okay that's enough. Again – good pot stirring here.

    • AmyQOTWF

      My sister has the best sister.

      • janicpanny

        Actually, mine does.

  • janicpanny

    We do love you always & forever & totally respect your points of view, probably way more than you realize. I also know it took a lot of courage on your part to post this. Good for you. You covered the religion thing well – just a side note. I don't presume to know if anyone will be "Left Behind" (never read any of those – not my thing). You're a kind hearted do-good-things person & that's what counts.
    Also – we're all just fine with the no kid thing. Really we are. (not that we're afraid of your offspring or anything…heh). And for the record – only one of us had more than 2 kids.
    As far as other families. My hubby & dad-in-law and the sisters occasionally poke fun at each other politically, but nothing too intense. They argue plenty – they all love to argue, but it's usually about current or past family stuff or trivial things. As in most families I would think, talking is more about catching up and family stuff than anything else.
    One other thing – I think the thing that maybe causes problems in families with different beliefs is an arrogance on either side regarding your point of view. Gotta stay open & understanding I think.
    Okay that's enough. Again – good pot stirring here.

    • AmyQOTWF

      My sister has the best sister.

      • janicpanny

        Actually, mine does.

  • janicpanny

    We do love you always & forever & totally respect your points of view, probably way more than you realize. I also know it took a lot of courage on your part to post this. Good for you. You covered the religion thing well – just a side note. I don't presume to know if anyone will be "Left Behind" (never read any of those – not my thing). You're a kind hearted do-good-things person & that's what counts.
    Also – we're all just fine with the no kid thing. Really we are. (not that we're afraid of your offspring or anything…heh). And for the record – only one of us had more than 2 kids.
    As far as other families. My hubby & dad-in-law and the sisters occasionally poke fun at each other politically, but nothing too intense. They argue plenty – they all love to argue, but it's usually about current or past family stuff or trivial things. As in most families I would think, talking is more about catching up and family stuff than anything else.
    One other thing – I think the thing that maybe causes problems in families with different beliefs is an arrogance on either side regarding your point of view. Gotta stay open & understanding I think.
    Okay that's enough. Again – good pot stirring here.

    • AmyQOTWF

      My sister has the best sister.

      • janicpanny

        Actually, mine does.

  • janicpanny

    We do love you always & forever & totally respect your points of view, probably way more than you realize. I also know it took a lot of courage on your part to post this. Good for you. You covered the religion thing well – just a side note. I don't presume to know if anyone will be "Left Behind" (never read any of those – not my thing). You're a kind hearted do-good-things person & that's what counts.
    Also – we're all just fine with the no kid thing. Really we are. (not that we're afraid of your offspring or anything…heh). And for the record – only one of us had more than 2 kids.
    As far as other families. My hubby & dad-in-law and the sisters occasionally poke fun at each other politically, but nothing too intense. They argue plenty – they all love to argue, but it's usually about current or past family stuff or trivial things. As in most families I would think, talking is more about catching up and family stuff than anything else.
    One other thing – I think the thing that maybe causes problems in families with different beliefs is an arrogance on either side regarding your point of view. Gotta stay open & understanding I think.
    Okay that's enough. Again – good pot stirring here.

    • AmyQOTWF

      My sister has the best sister.

      • janicpanny

        Actually, mine does.

  • Polly

    My mom says she was the odd one amongst her family of six siblings, so it's no surprise that my sister and I are the black sheep of our extended family. There's a whole lotta religion there and we got none of it. We're the Harrison spinsters, in our 30s and unmarried, while several cousins are working on kids #4 or 5. With one exception in his early 20s, the only unmarried cousins are still in high school. We're as liberal as they come amongst a crowd of Repubs. We try to just not talk about it at family gatherings but since we're outnumbered we sometimes have to listen to their cozy conservative backpats. Thank goodness we have each other.

  • Polly

    My mom says she was the odd one amongst her family of six siblings, so it's no surprise that my sister and I are the black sheep of our extended family. There's a whole lotta religion there and we got none of it. We're the Harrison spinsters, in our 30s and unmarried, while several cousins are working on kids #4 or 5. With one exception in his early 20s, the only unmarried cousins are still in high school. We're as liberal as they come amongst a crowd of Repubs. We try to just not talk about it at family gatherings but since we're outnumbered we sometimes have to listen to their cozy conservative backpats. Thank goodness we have each other.

    • AmyQOTWF

      Sounds like your Mom raised some awesome kids!

  • Polly

    My mom says she was the odd one amongst her family of six siblings, so it's no surprise that my sister and I are the black sheep of our extended family. There's a whole lotta religion there and we got none of it. We're the Harrison spinsters, in our 30s and unmarried, while several cousins are working on kids #4 or 5. With one exception in his early 20s, the only unmarried cousins are still in high school. We're as liberal as they come amongst a crowd of Repubs. We try to just not talk about it at family gatherings but since we're outnumbered we sometimes have to listen to their cozy conservative backpats. Thank goodness we have each other.

    • AmyQOTWF

      Sounds like your Mom raised some awesome kids!

  • Polly

    My mom says she was the odd one amongst her family of six siblings, so it's no surprise that my sister and I are the black sheep of our extended family. There's a whole lotta religion there and we got none of it. We're the Harrison spinsters, in our 30s and unmarried, while several cousins are working on kids #4 or 5. With one exception in his early 20s, the only unmarried cousins are still in high school. We're as liberal as they come amongst a crowd of Repubs. We try to just not talk about it at family gatherings but since we're outnumbered we sometimes have to listen to their cozy conservative backpats. Thank goodness we have each other.

    • AmyQOTWF

      Sounds like your Mom raised some awesome kids!

  • ernessa

    I'm definitely a black (or should I say white?) sheep within my family. But I would argue that it's for the best. I've always thought it would be harder to be a writer if I were from a family of artists. No, I don't always agree with my family on politics, but I always feel special and unique when I'm in their presence, so there's that. Also, there's a certain charm to having a family that stays put and doesn't change. It's nice to have a constant human home.

    • jenny

      yea, I completely agree with you on that one. It's kind of nostalgic going home, and I know what I'm in for too at the same time. Also, I tend to be rather competitive, and I'd feel bad if the rest of the family were artists, because I would just end up squashing them all in the competition! Just kidding…sort of…hehehe. But it is nice to be unique.

  • ernessa

    I'm definitely a black (or should I say white?) sheep within my family. But I would argue that it's for the best. I've always thought it would be harder to be a writer if I were from a family of artists. No, I don't always agree with my family on politics, but I always feel special and unique when I'm in their presence, so there's that. Also, there's a certain charm to having a family that stays put and doesn't change. It's nice to have a constant human home.

    • jenny

      yea, I completely agree with you on that one. It's kind of nostalgic going home, and I know what I'm in for too at the same time. Also, I tend to be rather competitive, and I'd feel bad if the rest of the family were artists, because I would just end up squashing them all in the competition! Just kidding…sort of…hehehe. But it is nice to be unique.

  • ernessa

    I'm definitely a black (or should I say white?) sheep within my family. But I would argue that it's for the best. I've always thought it would be harder to be a writer if I were from a family of artists. No, I don't always agree with my family on politics, but I always feel special and unique when I'm in their presence, so there's that. Also, there's a certain charm to having a family that stays put and doesn't change. It's nice to have a constant human home.

    • jenny

      yea, I completely agree with you on that one. It's kind of nostalgic going home, and I know what I'm in for too at the same time. Also, I tend to be rather competitive, and I'd feel bad if the rest of the family were artists, because I would just end up squashing them all in the competition! Just kidding…sort of…hehehe. But it is nice to be unique.

  • ernessa

    I'm definitely a black (or should I say white?) sheep within my family. But I would argue that it's for the best. I've always thought it would be harder to be a writer if I were from a family of artists. No, I don't always agree with my family on politics, but I always feel special and unique when I'm in their presence, so there's that. Also, there's a certain charm to having a family that stays put and doesn't change. It's nice to have a constant human home.

    • jenny

      yea, I completely agree with you on that one. It's kind of nostalgic going home, and I know what I'm in for too at the same time. Also, I tend to be rather competitive, and I'd feel bad if the rest of the family were artists, because I would just end up squashing them all in the competition! Just kidding…sort of…hehehe. But it is nice to be unique.

  • janicpanny

    There seems to be a theme developing here that you must venture far from home and be the contrary colored sheep of the family to be an artist. It may be that I'm the purple sheep among the readers of this blog, but I didn't travel quite so far from home to pursue my art. I agreed with my parents more often than not, married a farmer & had 2 kids. Yet, I am an artist with brush, pencil & pen. It's mainly just for myself these days, but still a part of my life. What makes anyone an artist? Desire? Talent? Education? Getting paid? Frequency of creative output? Sheer guts? Neurosis?
    The non-confrontational me also wants to add that I applaud those of you who aggressively practice your art. I really do. I'm not just saying that to make peace. Honest.

    Sorry Amy – that was way off topic. Perhaps I can chalk it up to the minefields theme?

  • janicpanny

    There seems to be a theme developing here that you must venture far from home and be the contrary colored sheep of the family to be an artist. It may be that I'm the purple sheep among the readers of this blog, but I didn't travel quite so far from home to pursue my art. I agreed with my parents more often than not, married a farmer & had 2 kids. Yet, I am an artist with brush, pencil & pen. It's mainly just for myself these days, but still a part of my life. What makes anyone an artist? Desire? Talent? Education? Getting paid? Frequency of creative output? Sheer guts? Neurosis?
    The non-confrontational me also wants to add that I applaud those of you who aggressively practice your art. I really do. I'm not just saying that to make peace. Honest.

    Sorry Amy – that was way off topic. Perhaps I can chalk it up to the minefields theme?

  • janicpanny

    There seems to be a theme developing here that you must venture far from home and be the contrary colored sheep of the family to be an artist. It may be that I'm the purple sheep among the readers of this blog, but I didn't travel quite so far from home to pursue my art. I agreed with my parents more often than not, married a farmer & had 2 kids. Yet, I am an artist with brush, pencil & pen. It's mainly just for myself these days, but still a part of my life. What makes anyone an artist? Desire? Talent? Education? Getting paid? Frequency of creative output? Sheer guts? Neurosis?
    The non-confrontational me also wants to add that I applaud those of you who aggressively practice your art. I really do. I'm not just saying that to make peace. Honest.

    Sorry Amy – that was way off topic. Perhaps I can chalk it up to the minefields theme?

  • janicpanny

    There seems to be a theme developing here that you must venture far from home and be the contrary colored sheep of the family to be an artist. It may be that I'm the purple sheep among the readers of this blog, but I didn't travel quite so far from home to pursue my art. I agreed with my parents more often than not, married a farmer & had 2 kids. Yet, I am an artist with brush, pencil & pen. It's mainly just for myself these days, but still a part of my life. What makes anyone an artist? Desire? Talent? Education? Getting paid? Frequency of creative output? Sheer guts? Neurosis?
    The non-confrontational me also wants to add that I applaud those of you who aggressively practice your art. I really do. I'm not just saying that to make peace. Honest.

    Sorry Amy – that was way off topic. Perhaps I can chalk it up to the minefields theme?

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