Something - no, some things - happened, between our Florida vacation and here. Important realizations that I always knew at the back of my mind to be true, but didn’t really pay much heed until now.
After our visit to Orlando, and our encounter with the magical world of Disney, we headed back to the girls’ grandparents place for the next three days of our vacation and, except for another trip to see their great grandmother an hour’s drive away, we never left the house.
Granted, the Sunshine State rained on and clouded over us more than it did shine, but we could’ve worked around that. There were some glorious spots of blue skies after all.
And yes, an injury also prevented me from being my usual, active, need-to-explore-every-new-place self, but if I could handle 12 hours of Disney, I could handle a little more benign sightseeing, on top of the one we already did in St. Augustine, prior to our Orlando excursion.
But I think the main reason that we never left was, well, we didn’t need to. The girls’ grandparents had an amazing pool, and the water babies that they are, that we all were, apparently, we were happy just to spend most of our time wading and floating and swimming and diving. There were games. There were screeching (in a good way), infectiously giggling kids. There was no pressure to follow a schedule.
Most importantly, there was family.
The girls didn’t care that they weren’t on their next Florida adventure, that they never even left the house. And for that matter, neither did I. Which is really strange for someone like me, who travels for the sake of seeing new parts of the world, and not just to contain myself within four walls (and a backyard with a swimming pool).
And I realized that it’s the family part that did it for us. It’s also what we lacked the most, living where we are.
So, realization number one? Family. Just how essential that is for my girls.
Seeing them with their uncle and grandparents, I know now that we’re going to have to try harder, despite distances, to make the effort to make these reunions more frequent. My girls, who were bathed in love and attention while they were there, absolutely deserve the kind of bond that helps them - or anyone, for that matter - thrive.
I grew up an only child who scarcely felt alone. I was raised by my extended family. We lived with my favorite aunt, and my maternal grandmother lived down the street. Even when we moved away in my teens, we had frequent family gatherings that made us tight.
Today, thousands of miles away, I see these gatherings on Facebook - relatives clad in festive sarees, gathering on special occasions - and I feel the pang of exclusion. Sure, being here was my choice. And the price I pay, the one that leaves me with no one here from my childhood but myself, is a dear one. When I was little, my family made me feel safe and whole and that I was part of something bigger. And now, I desperately want my girls to feel the same.
The thing is, it is possible, albeit in a smaller scale. And my realization is that, yes, it’s tough, but it’s doable. And that’s what we’re going to be doing. Making more of an effort to make plans with the family so the girls continue to feel connected, even close, despite the distance.
There is nothing more beautiful than to see my girls feeling safe, loved, and happy - and I realized that when September gave them an unmistakable glow that only my best friend, who’s their honorary auntie, and their grandparents could bring.
Family. It’s not a new thing. I’ve always realized its importance. But only now do I fully comprehend my role in this - I have to work hard to nurture these bonds myself. I need to make plans. Extend invites. Include them in our daily lives, in the things we do, in the choices we make.
It doesn’t just happen from wishful thinking and fervent hoping. It happens because someone actively does something to make things happen. And if that someone has to be me, then so be it.
So now I know what I must do.
Realization number two? Well, that’s a post for another day. Because that’s a big one for me. One that took me a long time to admit. In fact, I’m still taking some time to collect my thoughts on it, doing some experiments along the way to confirm what I’ve known all along.
Until then, this will have to do.
Actually, this is giving us plenty to do, as we spent the last few days reorganizing our house, moving furniture, getting rid of some, and reassigning spaces just so we could comfortably accommodate their grandparents and uncle in the future. So that they know they are always welcome here. At anytime.
The holidays are upon us, and this year, at our house, we will have family. What a wonderful thing to look forward to, and honestly, I can’t wait.