It has been my observation that often times in families, there is one parent with a significantly higher level of crazy/neuroticism/eccentricity than the other. In my case, it is most definitely my dad, who falls under the neurotic category with psychotic features and a side of narcissistic personality disorder. But that’s a therapy session for another day. My mother more than makes up for it by being so monumentally normal that I’m not convinced she’s human.
Alternately, my grandfather was a kind and quiet, hardworking gentleman. In contrast, his short-tempered wife was excruciatingly talkative and had very specific rules by which everyone should live or else they were stupid and useless. (This does not mean that I didn’t cherish every minute of being at their house — especially weeks I would spend there during school vacations being treated like royalty. I suspect I may have been obedient enough to avoid the ‘stupid and useless’ category.)
A friend of mine has a dad who was like the wise man on the mountain, speaking mostly in sage, thought-provoking sentences and phrases while his wife whirlwinded about the house waving her arms, pointing at things with a crumpled tissue in her hand and harshly commanding everyone to complete whatever trivial tasks she needed done immediately. She would enter a room full of people just to open or close windows and adjust the lighting before exiting to take a nap. We’d invariably readjust everything back to their original comfortable settings before the ‘attack,’ puzzled as to why she had gone through the trouble in the first place.
I had neighbors who were so strikingly different that I’m still stumped as to how they ever got past a first date. The wife was so lovely and polite and pleasant which was in stark contrast to her husband who was an obnoxiously rude, self-serving, raging drunk. Like, urinating in our front yard and passing out in a lawn chair in his driveway with vomit all over himself alcoholic (these were separate occasions, and the peeing thing happened more than once.) They did end up divorced, which is different than the other examples I’ve provided, but I can’t fathom how that lasted for any length of time. He has since cirrhosis-ed himself out of commission (shocker) and if I sound cold and unsympathetic it’s because he provided us with no end of grief as he was always a miserable bastard to my mother and we three kids.
In my house, I’m genuinely unsure whether my children would consider my husband or me the unstable one. I’m hoping we fall into the small percentage of balanced families with two emotionally anchored parents, but I’m more convinced that if I can’t tell which one of us is nuts, it has to be me. But I’ll try to put a positive spin on it by assuring myself that children having to deal with drastically contrasting parental personalities will be well adjusted to dealing with many different personality types in life. So, really, I’m doing them a favor. Long live the insanity…