My children started Spring Break on Thursday, April 1st.
My in-laws came to visit on Saturday, April 3rd.
Everyone left this morning.
It was a good week. But I don’t realize how much of a creature of habit I am until my “habit” has been disrupted. During the week I get up with the girls before school and do the mad-mommy dash of clothes, lunches, breakfasts and bus stops. Then I enjoy my second cup of coffee while checking email, writing and listening to music. The hum of the washing machine usually is in the background and a checklist of things to-do for the day has begun. My schedule is like clock-work when laundry and housework gets done, and there is time for lunch with friends in addition to time alone with my oboe or “pen”. The past 11 days have been shared with my children, husband and extended family – all good things, just different from the norm.
Living states from our family definitely has its challenges. Neither grandparents get to see the kids participate in sports or school events. There are no Sunday afternoon dinners or friday night sleep overs. I can’t call either mom and meet for lunch and there are no free baby-sitters for date nights. Whenever we do get to spend time with family it is for extended periods of time and time spent intensely. It is a precarious balance of quality and quantity without getting on each other’s nerves. And most family vacations are spent predominantly with other family.
“Aren’t you tired of always spending vacations with family?” I’ve been asked many times by friends. Another frequent question: “When are you going to start your own family traditions with your children and not always include your extended family?
This makes me smile. I remember vividly as a child traveling across country each year to visit our extended family. Every holiday, every vacation, every free moment my dad could take off from work we managed to fill it with any and as much extended family as possible. I actually got to know most of my cousins, aunts, uncles, grand-parents and even great grand-parents. I remember Christmas Eves with one grandparent and Christmas mornings with the other. Now there are no better Fourth of July celebrations than those spent around the pool with my aunts, uncles, and cousins or better Christmas cookies than those baked by my mother-in-law. I embrace hours building sand castles with the girls and Papa or sharing ice-cream on the boardwalk with Mimi. That is what I want for my children. I want to plant the seed now that no matter where life takes you as an adult, that coming back to family will always be a priority.
Do I wish that we lived closer and could have a more regular routine with our parents? Of course I do – but since that isn’t an option, I am glad that we are able to spend as much time together that we do. My children will be able to hold dear to them hours spent playing with Legos, trips to museums or outdoor concerts, unlimited games of ping-pong or staying up late watching movies with various visiting family. They will have a strong sense of family history and a better understanding of their parents as well as themselves.
That is our family tradition.