This last summer I had a chance to take my daughter to visit my family. It's a grueling 10 hour drive so I don't do it very often, but I felt it was important for my girl to spend some time with her extended family.
During our visit she had a chance to bond with grandparents, get teased by uncles, and play with cousins. I found it immensely satisfying to see her included in the circle of family love and find her rightful place there.
My daughter's had a chance to spend time with large families here where we live, but it's different with your own family. I'm grateful to these people for reaching out to us--but that's just it, I'm grateful because it's a favor.
But with your own family, it isn’t a favor so much as it’s what is owed. It isn’t a courtesy, it’s a right. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, they all love my daughter, if for no other reason than because they loved me. And they loved me because they loved my mother. It’s a chain that reaches back into the generations and no matter how different and disparate we’ve become there is a profound connection and obligation there. It’s something I know I can count on.
Which isn’t to say that I’m not grateful to my family. Because I live so far away I know I miss so much. Our visits are rare and few and it would be easy to blow us off when we do come. But they don’t. The open their hearts and they let my daughter step in and claim her place in an unbroken chain that I hope will continue for generations to come.
Watching my daughter claim her place gave me a sense of peace. Although we may live far away she knows there is a place where she belongs, a place where she is connected. And although the 10 hour drive is grueling, every summer I plan to do it, just to make sure she doesn’t forget it.