This started out really long, but then I realized that it can be condensed to: In functional adult relationships, both sides recognize that the other party has legitimate constraints on their time and on their lives, through necessity, choice, finances, choices about finances, or combinations of these things. And functional adults respect those constraints within their own constraints. So, in my world, people work together, and around each other's lives.
My sister is apparently coming to the Old Dominion to 'reconcile' with my parents, specifically my father. Well, I wish my dad the best of luck.
My mother wishes I had a relationship with my sister. I feel that she is a crazy person who lives 6000 miles away, and also, did I mention, crazy, so why? And she seems to be going through an emotionally unstable period. Recently, I mortally offended her: she asked what I thought of a biotech company's science, and I had the audacity to tell her (about something which was my scientific specialty, no less*). Apparently it was really about whether I approved of her life choices! And here I answered the question I was asked!
I offered that we could meet them in the next town, when Bug doesn't have preschool - or here, any day and time. My children have a feeding, nap and sleep schedule, and in general, only true necessity (such as moving 900 miles), things that are only happening once (weddings and funerals), or emergencies (ER trips!) disrupt the sleep by more than 30 minutes. (Nothing disrupts the feeding. Because I'm not out of my mind, thank you.)
In response, I got the world's huffiest email about how I was totally unwilling to accommodate her in any way, after she'd come all this way** and how apparently the only way I wanted to see her was on my own terms and that was so offensive and clearly it wasn't worth it. I see how she might feel that way. It also makes me wonder - my former BIL's family always threw a giant ticker-tape parade whenever they came to the US, and here I am treating it as something that has to mesh with my life. My mother mentioned something that happened 20 years ago as fueling this fake rivalry (I certainly don't think of our lives as a competition or compare hers to mine in any way because, get this, I don't care) and there's probably some of that too. The net effect is, she seems willing to take offense no matter what I say. I could say "How's your job?" and she would hear criticism of that she works and I don't. Or I could say "How are your kids?" and she would hear "Your divorce has fucked up your children beyond repair."***
My in-laws are pretty much the same way, but plus a side helping of not being able to believe that the tiniest trace of dairy will make me very seriously ill. They want a ticker-tape parade, dinner when they damn well want it (I have little kids; they eat at 5:30, sometimes at 5, and again, neither snow nor rain nor heat...), and for us to always come to them. I haven't seen them in... three years.
And, in both cases, I don't really regret it. I am willing to write these people out of my lives until they can try to enter into an equal and adult relationship. Until then, the crazy can stay right where it is.
* Reminding me forcibly of this passage from Gaudy Night:
'You'd lie cheerfully, I expect, about anything except -- what?'
'Oh, anything!' said Harriet, laughing. 'Except saying that somebody's beastly book is good when it isn't. I can't do that. It makes me a lot of enemies, but I can't do it.'
'No, one can't,' said Miss de Vine. 'However painful it is, there's always one thing one has to deal with sincerely, if there's any root to one's mind at all.'
I neither can nor will lie about science.
** Number of times she has bothered to come see me, while in the country, in the last five years: ZERO. Number of times she has flown across the whole country to see distant relatives: Twice. Likewise, number of times I have gone to Israel to see her, plus number of times I will ever go to Israel to see her: ZERO. Also, last time she was in the country, I had a one-month-old - not precisely an event one can reschedule.
*** Sum total of my response to her divorce: I'm sorry to hear that, it sounds very difficult, I hope that the court proceedings go smoothly, and here is a book about co-parenting with a narcissistic crazy ex, I hope it helps you negotiate with him.