Friday, November 9, 2012

The Joys of Extended Family

My sister and I grew up without extended family in close proximity.  We had friends that we grew up with that we considered cousins but we never really knew what it was like to have a big family.  I would see friends have big Sunday dinners and think, "Someday, I would really like to create that life." 

Today, we have that life.  She and I have four boys that are 1,2,3 and 4 (it's been a busy few years) and we are lucky enough to have all the sets of Grandparents in Florida.  We do our best to get our boys together at least once a week so that they can play but it has always been more exhausting than fun.  We would constantly be drying someone's tears, handling a dispute or saying to one of them, "Honey, he can't wrestle.  He's only 6 months old."  You get the drift.  But all of a sudden, that is changing.  They are becoming friends.

The boys and I went to my sister's house after their naps to help her move into her beautiful new home.  Her boys were still asleep when we got there so my guys just hung out with us while we busied ourselves hanging towels and arranging groupings of pictures and flowers.  Exactly what a boy wants to do, right?  But when her boys woke up, all four of them lit up like Christmas trees.  All of them started shouting out ideas to each other.  

"Wanna go outside and dig!?" 
"Come and see my new room!"
"Let's build a track!"

They ran like a herd of antelope through the house but they didn't need any intervention from my sister or me.  When one would cry, another would soothe.  When one was thirsty, another one would run and get a drink out of the fridge.  They wanted to be there for each other and they succeeded more than we could have at the same tasks.  At one point, I overheard a conversation that made me feel so proud of our boys.  The 2 year old brought a painted birdhouse to my oldest and said to him, "Here!  I made this for you!"

My oldest looked at it lovingly and said, "Oh wow.  You made this for me?  This is the most beautiful present I have ever gotten."

I understand just how he felt at that moment because these little lives are the most beautiful present I have ever gotten.  They are hard work and I spend a lot of my time wondering if all I am trying to teach them has sunken into their little minds.  When I experience moments like this, I see that they are listening and working toward being good men of strong character and kind hearts.  They will help each other through that journey and I trust that their lives will be so much richer because of the love that they share.

How has extended family enriched your life?

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