Tuesday, June 25, 2013

because this is family

last week, i arrived in ohio with five kids, but pulled back into my minnesota driveway tonight with six.  these kind of things just seem to happen.  at least they seem to happen to me.  i suppose gaining an extra kid is better than leaving one behind. (not that that’s ever happened before...cough, cough).  and i guess it’s better than getting halfway home and realizing we forgot someone.  

or is it?

depends on how those children are behaving and that car ride is going.  there have been trips. 

a kid here, a kid there.  and all of a sudden i am driving back to minnesota with a half dozen children bunched up in the seats behind me.  and not an inch of room to spare.  this time we’ve brought home a rather big one: my 19 year old nephew, ryan, is along for the ride.  all 6 feet and 1 inch of him filling the extra space in our yukon xl.

you do things like this for your family. 

my kids were thrilled to invite their older cousin to come back with us to minnesota.  though they harassed me all the way to ohio complaining they were “dangerously squished” and “and near death as they lacked room to breath,” when the idea came up over the weekend of bringing ryan home with us, they all assured me “mom, there’s plenty of room -- space to spare. i'll share my lunch, my seat, my favorite video game! there's more than enough room.” 

because there always is for family.

the truth is, any one of my children would have agreed to ride up on the roof if it meant getting to bring one of their very favorite cousins back home for the week.  they adore this kid -- he's their cousin.

and you do these things in the name of family time.

you, rather spontaneously, decide drive your five kids across the midwest to your parents’ house for a quick weekend.  you listen (for 13 and 1/2 hours straight) to things like, “he’s touching me and she’s not sharing and i’m thirsty and when can we stop and what is that smell and mom, i feel like i might throw up and (the famous) when will we be there?” 

and you do it for just for the smallest sliver of family time -- for the mere blink of a weekend.

you do it for a game of cards in the
 backyard with cousins.

you do it to pick honeysuckle from grandma's garden.

you do it for a family softball game at the park.

you do it for a picture with your baba
(notice my dad copying emily's sorority pose of hand on hip).

you do it to catch a glimpse of grandpa and grandson walking down the street together

you do it for an awesome afternoon 
of fishing with the guys. 
(thanks for planning the trip uncle doug)!

you do it to watch man of steel 
and strike clark kent poses in the parking lot afterwards.

you do it to see if your younger cousin 
has passed you up in height (yet).

you do it to give your girls a tour of where you once lived 
 -- chagrin falls in the background here.

you do it to marvel at your mother's number 
of flower pots...and truly to see her love 
for something so beautiful. 
(though you are still mostly amazed at the number of flower pots... oh my)!

you do it to share a glass of wine with your 
mom and sister in the garden.

you just do it for family.

my parents downsized about 10 years ago, and let me tell you, though their house is absolutely perfect for THEM, it is not exactly set up for all of US. (my dad will tell you that’s by design).  my sister, jess, and her family came back for this weekend as well.  and between her crew and my brother’s family (who live close by) and our gargantuan group...they had quite a house full.  my poor mother and father who enjoy their cats and their garden and their coffee and tea on the porch were unmercifully thrown into the wildness of finding extra pillows and sheets and spoons and bandaids.  this quiet couple in their 70's found themselves with grandchildren sleeping at the foot of their bed and a pile of shoes tossed at every door.  they found themselves having to wait in line for the bathroom and tripping over random toys and wondering where all of the cereal has gone. they found themselves closing screen doors and picking up wet towels and running the dishwasher 17 times a day.

because this is what you do for family.

the sleeping arrangements are always funny when we're there.  this week, my sister and her family were up on the summer porch.  summer porch a.k.a. summer sauna. (a heat wave hit ohio this weekend).  a grandchild on the floor in my parents’ room.  grandsons in tents and hammocks tied to trees.  granddaughters on air mattresses in the middle of the main room. one girl on a couch.  bella and i sharing a bed in my mom’s extra room which really belongs to her collection of vintage clothing.  between the old pictures hanging on the walls and the old white lace dresses hanging everywhere else, my children are convinced this room is haunted. ghosts or no ghosts though, i was just thankful to have a bed. by the way, next visit, i’m planning a family picture with everyone dressed up in my mom’s vintage clothing. no one seemed game this trip.  

anyway, we make it work.  a sense of humor always helps.  everyone kind of has to give and take a little.  the teenagers who could sleep to noon quickly realize, come morning, they’ll be stepped over by older people looking for coffee and younger people hunting for cheerios.  there’s no place to hide. we try to whisper and tip toe around them until a decent hour.  we try to whisper and tip toe around each other in general, when we can, but inevitably we have moments where we clash and collide in our ways or words or ideas.  we step on those toes we thought we were carefully avoiding and we infringe on feelings.  we talk over each other and under our breath.

because that happens in families too.  

it is wonderful to all get together for a weekend, but we all come now from different lives and different places with different experiences and different ideas.  my three siblings and i were raised in the same home by the same parents but when we scattered near and far, some of our similarities scattered a bit too.

jess, doug and me.  missing our youngest sister, nicole, (she lives in oregon).

we’ve stretched ourselves into different people than those we were growing up in each other’s bedrooms and in each other’s daily business.  we don’t love each other any less, in fact, i’d say we love each other more, but we realize change happens. even in families.  even in our family.  and weekends like this remind us all, that though we’ve stretched, we haven’t severed.  the ties that bind us to each other as sisters and brothers and children and parents are well intact. they are strong. they sometimes can be pulled beyond what seems possible, but they are resiliant . and these ties are exactly what brings us back.
because this is family.

we make room for each other when there’s little room to be found. 

we travel long distance when it seems too far and too fantastic.

we laugh a lot because it’s probably the best ingredient in any family.

we choose to let go of the petty and hold close the important.  

we remember the love which ties us together even when we are far apart.

this is family.

this is our family.

this is my family.

and i love them. 

some more of my mom's garden...

see that table with old photos in the background?  posting on that next!

 love this one of my sister, jess, and her two guys!

 and this one of doug and his daughter, taylor.

1 comment:

Aus said...

Morning Jody - what a great family - what understanding parents!! I miss that with our family - perhaps one day again - but I digress!

I really just had to comment - I see the pic with you, Jess and Doug - and I wonder where the pose with the had on hip comes from - you - or your daughter? ;)

Absolutely wonderful - love it!

hugs - aus and co.