As I grow older, I find myself aching for more family nearby. I envy my friends who grew up here, whose kids have regular Sunday night dinners with their grandparents and take trips to the river with their cousins. Of course, that envy evaporates quickly when the talk turns to the ongoing drama and interference they must deal with alongside the closeness and support. Likewise, not all family is good family – some of my friends would be better off without their blood relations in such close proximity.
But when it’s good, it’s a kind of good that slices right into my heart, triggers a sense of loss beyond words, a loneliness that staggers me. Maybe it’s the having teenagers and feeling particularly floundering, wishing for wise elders whose insight would serve as a warm blanket of defense against the fear that I’m going about this all wrong. Or who would simply exist as other good examples and resources in my children’s lives. But Bobby’s dad and mine started second lives a long time ago, the kind that leave little time for grandkids, and my mom is so busy and his mother so crazy that grandparents are a once-or-twice a year occasion for our kids – most of them are very nice and clearly love their grandchildren, but it’s all very much from a distance.
And we have a million friends, some of whom come close to surrogate uncles and aunts – I should mention that my younger brother is in San Francisco and thus the children do know him well, which is wonderful – but none of our families intertwine in the way I daydream about. It’s a selfish thing, maybe. I get tired, wish I had more help, feel lonely. Years ago, I sought community in the Unitarian Fellowship, liking the ideas behind the weekly gathering and believing when they talked promises to be the village we all needed to raise our children. But outside the Sunday meetings, no real connection was to be found. Which is fine. I was too young and too poor to really fit in.
And I have been too busy besides to attend to the needs of others – I want help with my family, but I don’t want someone else’s kids to become my burden. So there’s the rub, I suppose. I long for the comfort of family, but the additional weight of responsibility sounds exhausting.
Bah! I think this overload of sentiment has been brought on by too much book reading and play viewing and too little sleep. First, Over the River and Through the Woods at the NCRT, then re-reading Kent Haruf’s Plainsong between two-hourly blood sugar checks as Nick’s levels ran high all night.
Time to shake it all off and get on with the day.