Sunday, August 16, 2009

Searching For The Connection #3

This is the third post in a series about connecting with family.

We each have essentially two families. The one we were born into and if we are lucky, the one we create with our spouse as an adult. For me it almost seems like my primary family is from another life now. It seems like eons ago that I lived in a little house with my Mom and Dad and two brothers. I am convinced that one of the reason it feels so remote in my memory is that we have not kept up with each other as we should have as adults as I mentioned in post #1.

Without frequent contact and day to day experiences sharing it puts a distance in the relationship no matter how much you love someone. The ideal is of course to all live in the same place and share lots of common experiences together. The next best thing is being able to share the everyday experiences with each other through some kind of effective and frequent communication.

So what type works best and how can you keep the communication fresh with your family when option 2 is the one you deal with each day? Whether it is different cities or states, different countries, different continents, it all presents barriers to the best case scenario of being nearby. I admit to being deathly afraid of that unintentional drifting that can happen without a concerted effort to prevent it. It happened to me once and I don't want it again...not with our kids and grandkids.

Frequent communication is actually much easier than sporadic communication. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to write a letter to someone you are close to when you haven't done so in several months? The question is where do you start what do you leave out, etc. It is hard to share your life in bits and pieces. Without the details it becomes like your annual Christmas letter~just barely glazing over the highlights.

It is hard to keep a closeness with highlights only. We don't just want to know what our family is doing...we want to know what they are thinking, experiencing and needing. We want to know about their ups and downs, their joy and sorrows, etc. We want to be a part of their lives not just know about them. I know I keep repeating how hard this is...because it is! We all have lots of demands on us and the days can easily just slip away into weeks without a minute to stop and make that communication happen. Add time zone differences into the mix and you really have to be on your toes!

We started out great 12 years ago with Family Reunions. I think we did two before difficult work schedules and $ became an issue along with babies being born left and right for a decade. When International distances confounded things as each of the families of our kids lived out of the country for extended periods, the reunions came to a screeching halt. We did manage a trip to Edinburgh when our first granddaughter was born and Jim went one additional time. He also went to China when Chris and Missy lived there and we have both been to Italy. We also traveled to the east coast and to Mississippi several times. We have also been to Utah numerous times. Those trips all took many months of saving diligently. Something they can't afford with their larger families and we can't either time after time.

We have done the snail mail thing...only mildly effective although packages are always nice! And the sight of actual handwriting is always neat. It is a treat to get something besides junk mail too.

We tried Skype so we could see each other and talk on the phone/computer. That is free but was only mildly successful. When the cameras are working, internationally it is wonderful...the next best thing to being there. It has been very spotty with Italy. We have done it a few times with Chris and Missy and the kids too.

We got reduced phone rates for Italy which makes calling there very inexpensive, but we didn't know about that for Scotland and China. We also got a special package for US long distance calls on our land line and cells. That is great..unlimited calling for a certain amount which I don't remember. That has helped a great deal.

The problem with calling is the time difference for Italy and knowing when is a good time for our Utah kids with all their activities, etc. It is hit and miss at best sometimes. I had been leaving messages for Laura and Robert for a year before I realized they didn't have message service on their phones even though a message prompt always came on! That's Italy for ya! None of us are good at returning calls when messages are left on our land lines except Missy (what would we do without our Missy?)

We do e-mail sometimes but that hasn't been the best either. It is best for newsy type stuff in someways or when you want to connect one on one. And I do love that it is current. We also tried the round robin e-mail thing where you would add your bit and send it on. Mildly successful for a time. The problem with stuff like this is everyone has to have to same level of commitment to it for it to work and with young families it is unrealistic and pressure they didn't need.

We tried a Family Blog when the Blogging thing was new. It was more like IMing but it was pretty fun while it lasted. It just let you connect for a minute or two every day or so. Nothing in depth but everyone could read everyone else's comments and that was fun. It was also when there were about five less kids than they have now.

One of the best things so far has been the iPhone that Jen got for her birthday. Just about everyday we get new photos of the girls and their family things going on. This has helped us to feel so much better connected. Facebook has also been a way to keep in touch with Jen that has been pretty fun. So far Missy and Laura are not on it as far as I know.

This will come as no surprise to all of you that read regularly, but my favorite way of staying connected so far is blogging. Tomorrow I'll tell you why in my last installment of Family and Keeping Connected when time and space separate you. As you can see we have tried everything to be the glue..still looking for the super glue though....something that will stick for the long haul and works for everybody. If you have additional ideas...please share.

Wanted: Super Glue That Works For Our Family!

Flickr photos


BECKY said...

Hi Sweetie! Thank you for the shout out that accompanies the little grab em in your sidebar! That was such a nice thing to do!! (hug)

I have really enjoyed this series on connections with family. I don't have the answer...staying connected with anyone isn't easy these days. People just don't seem to be taking the time for people, you know? We have a family website at my where we post news and photos and members regularly visit. As far as close connection, I really only have that with my Sis. She is here in north Florida and we go see her at least 3-4 times a year.

Let us know what you figure out. I love that blogging might be the best thing for you.

I don't have any desire to be on facebook, but most of my family is. Lisa Shaw has shared on her blog how facebook and people finding you has been disasterous to peoples home and family life. Don't want any part of it. I've thought about twittering and may still give that a try but I have to upgrade my phone.

Thanks so much for sharing your life and thoughts with us. It's been a blessing!

Love ya!

laura.elizabeth said...

I am looking for it too Mom. It is like the magic diet or the miracle cellulite cure. There are solutions all around but none of them work with out lots of time and effort. Shoot! Time and effort are the two things we are all short on these days. I will say that I know it is important and I that I am trying. I guess like everything else we are all at different places in our journey. I think the key is to reserve judgemnt and love them along the way.