The other day I had an appointment with a guy about my retirement account. See, my last job gave me the opportunity to have my very first 401(k). I was even able to put a little bit of money in it. It was all very exciting and grown-up. Then I got my job at the university, and state employees have a different type of retirement fund. So I went to the guy to talk to him about my options with the 401(k) from my old job.
As we chatted about my life situation so he could help give me information relevant to me, he asked me if I had family that lived nearby. I told him that my family lives in the Bay Area, and they are very supportive. It’s true. But it’s also false.
You see, it’s not exactly true that I don’t have family nearby. I have family that lives right here in the same city.
I was reminded of this fact the other night when I had a date night with two of my friends.
The three of us women went out to dinner, and then went to the Chocolate Bar for chocolate fondue. As we sat and talked about our lives, our children, our drama, and our vaginas, I was overcome with an immense love for these two women. They are my sisters, just as much as my biological sister is my sister. They, and their adorable little families, mean so much to me and I feel like I could never fully express how grateful I am to have them in my life.
I am enjoying watching their little boys (they each have one under 3) grow and bond with my son. I love seeing how he interacts with them, much like I imagine he would any siblings he might have in the future. He is genuinely excited when we are going to their homes, because he will get to play with his ‘cousins’. Despite the fact that he is so much older, he still loves to play with the little ones. And they love him right back. There is no question in my son’s mind that these friends are part of our family.
When I was a child, my cousins were my babysitters – specifically two cousins who are about 10-12 years older than me and never lived very far away. To this day, I am still pretty close to the both of them and often feel as if they were additional older siblings. This is how I want my son to grow up. I want him to always have family close by, whether biological or otherwise. I want him to be surrounded by love and laughter, just as I know I was.
He’ll have a different role than I did, being that he is the oldest. Even my biological sister’s daughter is much younger (she just turned 1). He’ll be the one babysitting and looking after the younger ones. He’ll be the one calling his cousin up to remind her that she’s worth more than she gives herself credit for (yes, one of my cousins did this for me recently). Maybe he’ll even be the one coaching their sports teams (my other cousin was my cheer coach for years).
I am grateful that my son is growing up being surrounded by so much love. We have been poor, and there are things that we have had to live without. But we will never be without love and family.