Our last several (and next few) weekends have been filled to the brim with long road trips (honestly, the car rides seem to last longer than the weekends) and familial obligations. By the time each Monday rolls around we are all totally spent. My weeks have been filled with washing and putting away all of the weekend laundry; and, as soon as I'm done, it's time to start the process of packing suitcases all over again. I've been just plain pooped! But I'm not complaining. Really. I am getting to spend loads of weekend time with my parents and my sister and her family (including my adorable, too-smart-for-his-own-good, hilarious, 4-year-old nephew). I don't ever feel like I get to spend nearly enough time with my family, so this has been wonderful.
There is just something about being in the same room with my parents and sister (and our families), laughter echoing off the walls, that makes all things seem right with the world. I can't imagine a place I would rather be than anywhere with with our pack of eight. I especially love seeing my parents run, play, and wrestle on the floor with my son and nephew. The snapshots of those moments make take my mind back to the fun of playing, running, and wrestling in my own childhood living room with them. They have always been fun. Once, a neighbor boy came to the door asking if my dad could come out and play. My dad was, and still is, a big kid (but, believe me, you certainly know, by the look in his eyes, when he means business -- I'm not kidding, the man has mastered 'the look' just as well as my mom). The boys can always bring out the spastic side of my Mom, too (she has patented what we call the 'funny run'; which is a grandma-grandson partnered fast and wobbly trip down the long hallway followed by a sharp turn and an even faster and wobblier trip back). My mom is a woman who will never know exactly how beautiful she is (and, believe me, she is beautiful). There is nothing showy and dishonest about either of my parents. They have worked incredibly hard for every single thing they have accomplished, and they are two of the most genuine people I've ever met. Both of my parents, always and forever, are full of hugs and kisses. Not just the run-of-the-mill grocery-store variety. They hug with such enthusiasm that you know they mean it, when they say they love you, you have to believe it. Before we depart, hugs (and re-hugs) are given, as well as zerberts (those are for the little ones). And we exchange goodbyes and I love yous like it might be the last time we see each other (not morbidly, just sincerely).
Although our recent hectic travel schedule has been exhausting (both physically and somewhat financially), it has been wonderful. I can't remember a time in the last seven years that I have been fortunate enough to spend this much time with my family. I am blessed to have come from such an accepting, loving, and -- despite how I felt as a teenager -- normal family. Do we have our idiosyncrasies that make us unique (not weird, just limited- editions)? Absolutely. But we all love each other. Both of my parents have always been such wonderful sounding boards for advice and life's issues; but they have also been very careful not to overstep any boundaries -- letting us live our own adult lives and learn difficult but valuable lessons from our own mistakes. They demanded our respect when we were children, but have earned it now that we are adults. They encouraged (both with words and living examples) my sister and I to always stand up for what we believe is right, to be very kind to others, to love our pets as family members, and to work hard. I feel blessed that my sister and I both have been able to create loving homes for our own children (both of knowing fully that our upbringing shaped us to be more loving mothers); and that we are living in a way that makes our parents proud of us. I am grateful that my parents have welcomed my and my sister's husbands into the family so fully that they actually feel like they now have four children. They have shown us all, over and over, the value and importance of true and unconditional love and affection.
My family: circa 1984.
A family portrait taken on my sister's wedding day (2005).
At my son's first birthday party (2010).
Love your family. Respect where you came from. And thank you for keeping me In Good Company.