Friday, August 14, 2009

Keeping The Connection #1

One of the most important thing to me is keeping the connection with our family. When the kids were little and people would say..."Enjoy every minute, they grow up so fast." I was only half listening. I was enjoying most of the moments, but it just seemed like I could not visualize when they'd be gone.

Life after 50 was just not a part of my thinking in any real way. It seemed like life was just so packed with busyiness that we neglected to spend enough time with our siblings and their families like would have been ideal. I regret this now as we missed a lot of important bonding time with our brothers, their wives and their kids because we did not proactively make it happen. And things happened in our adult lives that would have been easier with sibling support, but they largely went unnoticed because we had a hard time looking beyond the immediate needs of the day.

We did too much, we worked entirely too much, and the days turned into years and the habits were set in cement. It was not something that we all did intentionally, we have always been a loving family. We just didn't give it the priority it deserved in our busy lives. We spent holidays together and built some great traditions there but day to day we didn't do so well. I regret that I did not become the favorite aunt of any of my nieces or nephews. I have two brothers and that honor went to their mothers' sisters with whom they shared more experiences. I regret that our kids were not closer growing up.

One of my friends had a great idea about keeping cousins connected. Her name is Shaun and this is the link to her post about it.

Thanks you, Shaun,
for sharing your
inspiring experiences!
They are brilliant!

The Really Big Five 0

In 1997, all three of our kids got married within four months. Yup, it's true. What a whirlwind year. I also turned 50 and had a hysterectomy. Can you say....emotional roller coaster? Life as it had always seemed to be, was over! When your kids grow up and go off to college it is one thing but when they marry it is the biggest change of all. If things go well, they are NEVER coming back! The most important chapter of the most important things you will ever do in your life has come to an end.

A New Chapter
Lowell, Jen, Jim, Bon,
Robert, Laura, Christopher, Melissa

This can be beautiful and simultaneously forewarned if you are not there yet. We have been so blessed with wonderful new children. In spite of that, you cannot help missing life as it was in the early years. Your nuclear family becomes a sunburst of new and exciting things but the old is hard to relinquish to the passage of time.

Part of that is due to regrets like I mentioned above about just not doing things exactly as you should or could have. You just didn't have the insight you needed at the time. Thank heavens there is progression and personal growth and new understandings as we grow and mature.

So I want to spare our children from some of those same regrets and by helping them all keep the connection with each other. We want to be part of "the glue" that keeps the family strong in that connection. I have spent a lot of time in the past 12 years pondering and praying about how we can accomplish this as parents and grandparents. I know it takes a lot of effort, it doesn't just happen as I had once assumed. I truly want this for them and find frustration in the distance between us all.

Yet another chapter is in process!
Chloe and Zach sharing a cousin snuggle.
This is a big heart warmer for us.

I admit that sometimes I feel like I am failing in my attempts but I keep trying to find what works. I realize how much they all have on their plates and I want to somehow help. I am so grateful for the deep love between them. I know that part of what happens is that they are exactly where we were when we were raising them. So, so busy.

Don't get me wrong, the kids love each other and they do a lot together when they can. The cousins are better off than the past two generations for sure. I just want it to continue and keep getting better. If on my deathbed I have failed at this I will find it very devastating. I want them to be close and unified and there for each other all of their lives. A mother's work is never just changes and evolves into something more important and challenging at each new stage of life.

Somehow I want them to take care of each other when we are gone. Maybe that is the deepest kind of parental love. It is the way our Father in Heaven loves us...always wanting us to care for each other.

In my next post I will share some of my ideas of how I try to do this and I would love to hear if this is as important to you as it is to me. How does your family do it? If you are a young mom, how do your parents help? If you are a grandparent how do you keep the connection with the popluation explosion that has become your new family?


Bellamere Cottage said...

Hello Bonnie....

It is tough isn't it? I often the "old" days the wives did the laundry in a wringer washer and hung the clothes on the line. They made their own soap and canned fruit and vegetables. Obviously they were very busy. Why are we SO much busier now? I think I'm busier at 59 than I was when I was 29....we have tons of conveniences they didn't have then and yet.....not a moment to spare. I'll be anxious to see what some of your solutions are.

Thanks for coming and for the sweet words....I LOVE jewelry too. :-)


BECKY said...

My sweet friend, I'm not quite sure where to start! This post evoked several different responses in my heart and mind. First, I am struck by the eloquence of your writing...heartfelt and thoughtfully penned and so very eloquent. Second, it is so full of wisdom. We seldom learn by easy successes. Those things that challenge us are what God uses to etch wisdom into our characters. Third, it shows me yet a little bit more of your wonderful heart and has completely blessed me. I am SO looking forward to reading more!!

I have many of the same concerns, and am working toward similar goals with our grown girls. I have also felt the "not a great aunt" thing . Small steps will get us there and whatever we can do to move forward in these areas will make a difference.

Let's pray for each other in these areas, OK?
Have a lovely weekend! You're such a treasure!
Love ya,

mandy* said...

I think about this a lot - especially because I live so far away from my family. The day Sarah was born I cried because I was not there to share the experience with Andy, Beth, Mom and Alex. I felt like I was missing out and somehow letting them down. If I could change one thing about my life I would live closer to family (well, actually if I am changing things I would have EVERYONE I love live in Seattle). I think my favorite thing about family is the little inside jokes and things that make everyone laugh. Those things happen when people keep in touch - even if only over the phone.

Marie said...

Hi Bon. This is a great post. When my kids were growing up it was really important to me that they have a relationship with their extended family. My father had been in the airforce and so my siblings and I had never lived close to our cousins and other relatives. My kids were especially close to their grandparents on both sides. Unfortunately divorce has ended up destroying what I tried so hard to foster. My kids rarely, if ever see my parents now or anyone else in my family. I have a daughter that does not speak to me at all. I find it all very hurtful. There are people in this world that do dastardly things to their children, and their children still love them. I just don't understand why my choosing to worship God in a different way than they do should cause them to excise me and my parents from their lives.

Caroline Craven said...

Hi Bonnie,
Reading your post and the comments has left me thinking about my own siblings and our extended family. Somehow we have remained a pretty close family, despite distances and differences. I have 9 other siblings and that leaves lots of room for differences of opinion, hurt feelings and being closer to some than to others. We've had some pretty big blow outs over the years, but I think what keeps us together is knowing that our parents want us to be close and also the fact that family closeness is more important to us than winning arguements. Somehow our parents were able to convey that even in the midst of constant sibling disagreements. We've all have more than enough humble pie! Also, it never hurts to remember that it doesn''t have to be perfect (or even close) in this life. An eternal perspective is most hopeful and helpful. Families are a work in progress. We are a pretty opinionated bunch, but we are also a mostly forgiving bunch. I am looking forward to reading about your ideas.

Faye said...

Loved your post Bonnie - I am finding that I have been doing a lot of reflecting on this issue myself lately. The last time I was with both my brothers at the same time was 10 years ago when we met up at Disney World (one brother lives in Florida and the other in England). However, my parents were on their mission at the time - so the last time they had all 3 of their children in the same room with them was a Thanksgiving about 16 years ago. Sad. This last Christmas my brother was here with his kids and we realized it was the first time Tif or Michele had met their youngest son Marc - he's 10 years old! So obviously my family has missed out on spending very much time together due to the logistics we faced. Can't change what's done but now I worry about if this is what is in store for my kids now that we live in Rochester, Minnesota, Chicago, Bountiful, Concord, (and Mexico City temporarily). As the family grows it is harder to financially take care of all the travel expenses associated with getting together and as their kids start school and they are tied down with their own issues of pregnancys, work, school, etc. it is more and more difficult to make it work - but I feel like that is my job - to make sure it does happen. Then I also think about the once a year trip we took every summer to see my grandparents and cousins growing up - we were the only ones living in Calif - but when we came to visit it was so much fun and my memories are that I felt very close to my cousins and grandparents - so how much is enough to create those feelings of closeness? I'm still trying to figure that out.