Monday, March 31, 2008

We are Family.

The whole Dirt & Noise clan just spent a week cavorting with some cousins and an aunt from out of town. We were honored that they chose to spend their spring break with us. Bird and Deal were on Cloud 9 the whole time because they got constant attention, barrels of fun, and 24/7 entertainment from their older cousins. It was a blast seeing all four cousins joke and play and laugh together. They truly enjoyed each other's company and loved getting to know each other.

Deal fell especially hard for his 12-year old cousin Big D. Deal was basically an attached appendage to him the whole time, and Big D ate it up. I can't wait for him to come back and be our manny for a summer. He is delightful despite his preteen hormones and too-cool-for-school attitude that are surely lurking somewhere beneath his crisp blue eyes, envy inducing lashes, and easy smile. Little M was a comic relief and loved reading to the boys. She was a trooper in a house full of boys who'd rather laugh at fart noises than solve the riddles in Dora. She is the most affectionate little girl I've ever known, which was welcome amidst all the dirt and noise last week.

It was a shame to see Big D, Little M, and Aunt G all head home to the frozen tundra this morning (not just because it was 4:30 AM!). The house is dead quiet. The boys are sullen. Even the cat is wondering where the action went. And the steady pitter patter of much needed rain just adds an element of melancholy to our already glum mood. We're teetering on the edge of what Holly Golightly called the Mean Reds.

Mac Daddy and I don't have any family close by so our kids will never know the Norman Rockwell meaning of family. Every time they see their relatives it's like meeting strangers who conjure up a sneaking feeling of deja vu over and over again. We have family photos all over the place and make it a point to talk about Aunt So-and-So and Uncle What's-His-Name. Our meager attempts to bridge the miles isn't all that successful. You simply can't cram a lifetime of family experiences into a week. Even two weeks. Or three.

The fact is, what makes a family is shared experiences, not just bloodlines. The ingredient that makes all (OK, most) long distance relationships fail over time is DISTANCE. The same holds true for families. Perhaps failure is too harsh a descriptor, but the sentiment rings true nonetheless. Distance is a difficult factor to overcome. I grew up with a couple continents and an ocean between me and my extended family. If my cousins knocked on my door selling encyclopedias I wouldn't recognize them. Ditto for my aunts, uncles, grandparents even.

I never realized until I had a family of my own just how sorrowful that is. You don't miss what you never knew so my childhood was quite fine without family around. But now, I want Bird and Deal to feel that they are a part of something bigger. They have a place in this world chock full of people who love them fiercely despite the miles. They share a last name, a history, a gene pool, and most importantly, unconditional love that stretches to the moon and back again.

Sure, we could chat online and hook up a webcam to make connecting a bit easier, but all the technology in the world doesn't make up for seeing four cousins, ages 2 - 12, curled up together reading Gerald McBoing Boing. And having the time of their lives.
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Anonymous said...

The cat, that crazy cat. I laughed at that part. Glad to hear the visit went well. I did miss the blog when it was on vacation. Did Mac Daddy remember his boxers?

Ilina said...

Mac Daddy did indeed remember boxers this time. All he forgot was a sweatshirt that matched anything so he clashed the whole week. That's why he's not in any photos.

Anonymous said...

This particularly strikes a chord with us. Sometimes I long for a traditional Sunday dinner at Mom's, a babysitter always available, and a "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" type of lifestyle, but then I think that absence really does make the heart grow fonder and I'm reminded of some of the disadvantages (like my mom in my business all the time). I'm glad we've gotten to "choose" our family here and just because we don't use terms like Aunt and Uncle to describe them, we know that our kids (and us) are loved unconditionally by those people, too. That makes me feel doubly lucky. C

Anonymous said...

Family is so important. My MIL is in town, one of my sisters is 2 hours away and the boys see their older cousins maybe twice a year. I have a great nephew who will be 1 in a little over 2 weeks and they are so looking forward to celebrating that with him. The last time they saw him was at Christmas (my nephew is getting his doctorate at UGA). I wish they had what I had when I was growing up 25 first cousins getting together 4-5 times a year, Christmas a given; and aunts and uncles all over town. I can recall many good times sitting at my grandmother's breakfast room table (seated 12 since she had 12 children of her own) with all sorts of relatives.