Friday, June 10, 2011

It takes a village

T. had an extra week off between his last day of school and the day camp started. My mother volunteered to help out during the week and my brother was sweet enough to agree to take my son to Six Flags one of those days. As I got things ready for my son to have a fun day with my brother, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky we are to have family close by and eager to be a part of my kids’ lives.

My mother, father, brothers and a myriad of aunts, uncles and cousins are within a 20-mile radius where I live, many closer than 10. It’s easy to take extended family for granted when you see them regularly. But as an adult, I’ve really come to appreciate the benefits of having them a few minutes away.

Benefits to me:
•    Someone is always available to help out in an emergency. Whether it’s the random flat tire or a kid is sick and neither one of us can stay home with them, someone is always available to help out. 
•    Ready advice. Sometimes it’s unsolicited, sometimes not, but advice can be nice. It’s especially comforting to hear the words “Oh, don’t worry about that. When you were a kid, you did the same thing. Remember when….” Relatives will point out things about your child that you didn’t know you shared.
•    A place to go. Whether it’s visiting my aunt and uncle or hanging out with my cousins and their kids, you know you and your family are usually welcome. And when the kids are driving you nuts, it’s nice to call up someone and be able to say “Let’s get together.”

Benefits to my kids:
•    A sense of belonging. “Family gives you the opportunity to get to know people you otherwise may not have anything to do with on your own.” I always heard that comment and thought how true it is. With that, though, comes the reality that as varied as our families are, we always belong somewhere. There’s always the aunt or cousin who accepts everything about you, even when you think your parents don’t understand you.
•    A sense of history. My grandmother is still alive and it’s fun to go to family gatherings and hear stories. Whether we talk about deceased family members or hear fun stories about each other, there’s always a good laugh.
•    An opportunity to get to know me better. I’m sure that one day down the road, my brothers and cousins will share the embarrassing stories I wouldn’t dare tell my kids.  After all, what good is having a history if there isn’t anyone around to share it at the worst possible moment? J
•    Good food. Each relative is known for something, especially if they can cook and bring a special dish to a get-together. We share some of our cultural traditions through the foods we share and the recipes we pass around from one person to the next.

As a kid it’s so easy to take this connection for granted, but as an adult, I can’t help but be grateful. My kids may not appreciate the ready access to our relatives now, but I hope that down the road they appreciate how much we are in and out of each others’ lives.

But I do dread the day they have something to hang over my head courtesy of my relatives. I know I provided them plenty to use against me. Hee hee……

Reace Alvarenga-Smith is a Public Relations Manager for Texas Health Resources and Mom of two.

1 comment:

  1. Reace,

    This is so true. Since we don't have a lot of family close by, my kids get to spend a few weeks during the summer visiting the grandparents and they love it!! Thanks for sharing this.