Stacy Garfinkle asks a good question at the end of her recent post:
How do you instill a sense of family in your kids when your loved ones are spread far apart?
Mama and I have struggled with this with Mama’s family living in Maine and Vermont and mine in California and Washington (unfortunately for us, not the Washington across the Potomac, but the one that the mighty Columbia rolls through). We’ve found some ways to bridge the distance–like flying home, blogging, and even the occasional video chat–but none of those efforts is the same as being there.
Often, however, our trips to see family ourselves, or to have 3B visit with family, result in our separating from each other. Until now, it’s been Mama traveling with 3B, but now that he’s pretty much weaned himself, there’s no reason that I couldn’t travel with him. But is that really instilling a sense of family in him? In ourselves? Our lives aren’t nearly so chaotic as some–say, for example, presidential candidates–but it seems that there are still times when we can’t get it all together, so we have to split up for trips.
Then again, neither of us grew up in terribly close proximity to our cousins, so I also wonder if, when I wish that 3B could grow up closer to his aunts, uncles, and cousins, I’m nostalgic for a time that even I didn’t grow up in. I saw my cousins twice a year: on our summer vacation and at Thanksgiving, when all 637 of us would cram into Grandmother and Grandfather’s house for a wonderful, warm, rollicking, overwhelming good time. That’s where I learned that if you take on your cousin, you’d better be prepared to take on your uncle too; what a Dutch rub is; and that yes, it is possible to eat too much pumpkin pie.
I also formed a bond with my cousins that I feel is that blood bond of family members–closer than what I’ll ever have with friends, even though most of my cousins are really strangers to me now. But is that a real bond or is it just my nostalgic feelings because “a long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time“?
Is that so different from what 3B will experience? What about you? What do your kids experience? What do you want them to experience?
And for those of you living away from your families–seriously, how much does the lack of free babysitting suck for us?