Most families moan about each others quirks and puzzle their way through connecting but when push comes to shove we need our family. I'm fortunate enough to have a great family. Yah, I butt heads with my dad, mainly due to being cut from the same cloth but with different reference points and experience to colour my views. I probably test my mom's patience and her stamina for constantly bolstering my confidence. My sister most likely grows weary of my bossy tendencies and lofty ideals. Yet we all get along and not just the "put on a good face" get along. There is something so amazing about being loved for no other reason than just because.

Hence, the absolute best part about our sojourn in Alberta is being near our families. We now have regular opportunities to see each other. J's folks pop into town and we can meet up with them for a quick visit or lunch. I can run into my mom's house to steal cornflake crumbs for my dinner and leave with not only the bag of cornflake crumbs but a full belly since she has fed me and the wee people lunch. My sis can actually arrange a haircut appointment with her hairdresser for me. This appointment means she has found a way for me and the kids to visit her along with a time when I can let her volunteer in her son's classroom because I will be available to watch her daughter for a couple hours. It is so nice to have regular contact with family. We are enjoying the everyday without the intense commitment of a long visit. Long visits are necessary when we live far apart but sometimes the 7-10 days can wear all parties out. These long visits alter everyone's routine, there are always space issues and the pressure of making the trip memorable so that it will sustain us until the next visit.

Living close to family means we can participate in and share memorable events with family. My mom turned 65 on Sunday and we were there to share in the celebration. My sister had the great idea of throwing her a surprise party. She rounded up a large group of family and friends to attend. Jo and I were then able to work together in her kitchen to put out a decent spread of munchies and sweets for everyone. It was fun spending time with her. It was great being able to surprise my mom and to remind her how special she is to us and to alot of other people. Now my lil bug turns two tomorrow and I can have a family party for her. She is geniunely thrilled about having her bompa, grandma, grammie, grandad, auntie jo, unc brad and her cousins in her house.

I think I will miss my family even more upon our return to Ottawa this time. I am quickly adjusting to the knowledge that I have a grandparent practically always available to help in a pinch or for a break or because I want to do something with just my husband or just one child. I am growing accustomed to integrating family into not only the special holidays and events but the everyday.

Thankfully my friends in Ottawa are a form of family for me. I miss them and am desperately lonely for the inspiration, support and conversation they provide me. Yet like ourselves they are busy with work, activities and some with raising families. As a result, finding time to go out together is limited. We cannot just offer to babysit each other's kids on a whim as it requires logistical manuevering. It is too bad that our lifestyle choices have meant that our lives (children, friends, home, and jobs) are so physically far from where our relatives reside. I like Ottawa and at this moment I choose to make it home. I just wish I could reap the benefits of having nearby family as well.

So for the rest of our stay in Alberta, I will be reminding myself on the dark and dreary cold winter days that my restlessness and boredom can be alleviated by not only calling family but by entering their homes and allowing them to give me a break from parenting.


Karen said...

And I continue to be supremely jealous.

Only because I'm commenting here and not on my own blog can I say that even when my family is in town to visit, i still don't get much of a break, either because they're not helpful or they're here for a short time or they have their own kids with them that rightly require their attention. Sigh.

November 7, 2008 at 9:33 AM  
Anonymous said...

I am totally jealous, too! I think about the things you are saying a lot. (Long visits being wearing and wishing to share everyday stuff with close family.) I am so glad you're getting this time to enjoy it. You are even farther from family than I am.

Allison (in Ottawa)

November 7, 2008 at 12:44 PM  
Anonymous said...

You are part of my home-away-from-home family too. Miss you!
Vicki (in Ottawa)

November 8, 2008 at 5:18 AM