Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Family Time

This weekend was the annual Henry Family get together at Bethany Beach. Every year, on the weekend after Father's Day, the Henry brothers (Brian's dad and his four brothers) and their spouses, children, grandchildren, in-laws, aunts, uncles and cousins, descend upon Bethany Beach for a weekend of together time. Typically, the "men" go do their thing, and us "ladies" go to the beach, go shopping, etc., etc. It's not really a weekend of together time for Brian and the girls and I because we usually don't see him very much (off doing the "men" thing). But, we always find time to sit somewhere quiet with his cousins and talk and catch up. It used to be that all of us "young people" would go out for a night on the town. However, almost all of us are now married and the majority of us have young children. So, now we stay and chat at our respective places.

I enjoy getting together with everyone, since I really don't have any cousins of my own and don't come from a very large family. Brian's dad and the brothers are all so close and supportive of each other. It's an amazing thing. It's also a very overwhelming thing, for someone who has never been around such a large, rambunctious, loud and demonstrative family. The brothers love to tease - especially the women and children - and when someone "new" joins us for the weekend, it's like they smell fresh meat in the air and they all get that devilish smile on their faces. Having been that "newby" myself, I pity whoever they have set their sights on. And those of us who have been welcomed into the family with a "Henry Sandwich" (meaning one uncle on one side, another uncle on the opposite of you and you in the middle of a GIANT bear hug) it's our duty to deflect the uncles from the successor "newby" until he or she feels a little more comfortable around the family. It's really a lot of fun and I find myself laughing alot. The only down side is that it takes me several weeks to deprogram my husband when we get home. He tends to turn into a very chauvinistic, old school husband, who feels that, since I am the "woman" and "mommy" of the family, he can pretty much do whatever he wants whenever, without fear of having to worry about whether or not I have plans, or who will be taking care of the girls, packing the car, etc., etc. It's like he gets around his uncles and turns into a different person. We've had many discussions about this (some of which occurred right in front of whatever aunt, uncle or cousin happened to be standing nearby when he finally pushes me over the edge as he inevitably does at some point during the weekend) and he has definitely gotten better, but that underlying chauvinism is still there. sigh. But he's working on it. Although I'm not too sure whether it's because he recognizes what he's doing or because he doesn't want a repeat of one of my outbursts in front of everyone where I cal him out for acting like a jerk and remind him that he doesn't treat me like chattel at home, so why would he act that way in front of other people? I'm not quite sure Brian's family knew what to think of me those first few years.....

This year, my girls (who are now among the oldest of the new generation) had a gaggle of cousins of their own to play with on the beach. There have been LOTS of babies born over the past year or two and it was mind blowing to sit on the beach and realize that ALL THESE KIDS were ours! I got my baby fix, between the twins, Erin and Grace, (8 months old) and Kate (around 9 months old), not to mention Paige (age 2) and Jack (almost 4). And that only includes the cousins that were there. There are a lot more that didn't make to the beach this weekend.

All in all, it was a great time. Unfortunately, I seem to have picked something up while I was there. I'm just so TIRED, I can feel it in my bones and I can't seem to find any energy at all. Maybe the weekend just wore me out - I'm not as young as I used to be!

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