Making a Bright Spot Out of Our Disappointment

By Megan

My family had a reunion over the weekend, but the husband, kids and I weren’t there.

We’d been planning on making the 10 -13 hour drive down to South Carolina from the Chicago suburbs for the event for almost a year, starting way back before we’d met our baby son, Peabody, whose head threatens to fully detach from his body the minute we put him into his carseat, no matter how much fun we try to make it for him, and who, like his poor mother, wakes up with a start from deep slumber the moment anyone else’s eyes open anywhere in the house, so light is his sleep and acute is his hearing.

But long about a month ago, Al and I were ironing out the details of the long treck home when we paused briefly and looked at one another, looked at Peabody, and looked back at one another with sad, knowing expressions that said, and I quote: WE ARE INSANE TO THINK THIS IS GONNA WORK.

And with that, we made the decision not to go. Oh, it was a tough call, and not one I was at all pleased to have to make. Being away from my family, all of them, and FAR away, makes me sad in general, a bit for myself, but mostly for my children. I grew up living fairly close to all of my extended family – both sets of grandparents, my Mom’s sister and my Dad’s brother, who married one another to keep things easy for everybody, and their daughters, my cousins – and I spent a huge portion of my childhood playing among them and taking the close bond I had with ALL FOUR of my grandparents completely for granted, oblivious to how lucky I was, how very unusual this tightly-packed family little unit really was, even at that time.

How I wish my children could have that sort of life, too. I wish their grandparents were nearly daily figures in their lives (Ahem.Freebabysitting.Ahem), giving them extra love and wisdom and grounding, telling them stories, teaching them things, celebrating their birthdays alongside Al and me. I long for them to play for hours outside at Nana’s house, getting into and out of mischief twenty times a day with their five cousins, my sister’s kids, and creating happy, crazy memories they could laugh about at one another’s weddings in the years to come.

Honestly, I find myself praying for circumstances to bring all of us closer together again someday soon, so deep is my longing to give my kids this tight-knit family I had, this simple gift that gave me so much richness and fullness in my own life. Oh, to bless Peabody and Bean with some of that same richness and fullness and a set of their own joyful family memories.

But we stayed home and missed this set of memories. We spent the time instead making over our basement into a bright, colorful, open play area for Bean and eventually for her baby brother, too. We took the money we’d have spent to rent a van and stay overnight in a hotel and buy food on the road and we invested it in something we hope will bring the kids joy over the years to come. It seemed like the thing to do, and I’m glad we did it. We had a wonderful time working together, Al and I, and I know that as Old Man Winter creeps over the prairie and locks us inside with his snow and icy winds we’ll be thankful for a warm, safe place to set our children’s boundless energy free for awhile, and I know Bean will love sharing her new space with her friends, too. She’ll make memories there, and mischief will abound as well, if I know my daughter.

And while we worked, I had visions my nieces and nephews there with my kids. Of air mattresses on the floor, of piles of adorable, pajama’d cousins snuggled together under blankets, watching movies on our old beat up basement TV, or sitting on the soft foam tiles playing board games, eating popcorn and laughing. And the visions made me hopeful.

Maybe God will answer my prayers in a way I haven’t anticipated. He’s got a way of doing that in my life.

I’m curious to see what He will make out of the bright spot we’ve made out of our disappointment.

Megan also blogs at FriedOkra.

8 Responses to Making a Bright Spot Out of Our Disappointment
  1. Kelly
    November 17, 2008 | 12:01 pm

    Oh how I can relate to this post, Megan. I didn’t grow up with extended family near me, but maybe because of that, my nuclear family is incredibly tight. Of course, now that we are all grown, we are also far-flung. I wish I didn’t have to miss so many of the everyday joys in the lives of my siblings, my parents or my new nephews (and niece on the way).

    I comfort myself with the thought that what Corey and I are creating with our kids is something precious and beautiful too. We only have each other, and I pray their memories will be vivid with laughter and closeness.

  2. Lora Lynn
    November 17, 2008 | 12:34 pm

    Yep, I get it. We actually picked up and moved for that very reason. But it was a long process for us to make that decision and then for all the details to fall into place. God’s timing was perfect in it all. I’m glad now that A. and I have the memories we made when we left all our family and clung to each other. And I’m glad to give my kids memories of being “on our own” and being part of a bigger clan. I love that they seem to be getting the best of both worlds (we’re two hours from family now.)

  3. Beck
    November 17, 2008 | 1:31 pm

    We moved back here so the kids could have nearby grandparents and it’s been a mixed blessing. We really idealized what life near our families would be like – but in reality, having our lives that intertwined with our parents has been HARD.
    Not that it wouldn’t have been lovely to have been able to go to the family reunion, though. 🙁

  4. Mari
    November 17, 2008 | 4:59 pm

    I’m so sorry you had to miss the reunion. It sounds like a wise decision though! You probably would,’t have been in a mood for any visiting after the travel down! I hope they have one next year and you can go.

  5. Hannah
    November 17, 2008 | 11:31 pm

    I totally know what you’re getting at about 1) the carseat hysteria; and 2) the longing for closeknit extended family. Kudos to you for making the best of it and having faith that all things work together for good!

  6. nicole
    November 20, 2008 | 6:39 pm

    You wrote this so well. You expressed your desires, but also your acceptance and welcoming of where you are now. My mom is from a large family, and until recently she was the only one not living in CA. Now they are more spread out. But as a child we went to CA every other year or so. I loved being around all of my cousins (lots of them) and playing. Even though we only saw each other once a year or every other year, we were still close. We have all grown up with an appreciation for what we had as children. So don’t get too down–your kids can still have some of that, no matter where y’all all live.

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