Last week I was granted a reprieve from parenting when my son went to stay with his grandparents. I love when my dad does this, and it always seems to come at the perfect time. Just when I’m getting overwhelmed in some aspect, here he comes with the offer to take T. He loves his grandson (obviously), and they always have a great time together. This trip included two stays at my dad’s cabin in Mariposa County.
Whenever this happens, I always make big plans about all the “things” I’ll get done while home alone. I’ll catch up on writing, get some household stuff done, sleep in (when I don’t have to be at work), and just take care of myself. Some of these things get done and I consider myself productive, but I don’t beat myself up for the things that don’t get done. I did a lot of laundry, rearranged the furniture in the living room, and worked on organizing my bedroom, but I don’t kick myself for not getting the bathrooms cleaned. I got some writing done, but I’m not upset I didn’t finish reading any of my in-progress books on GoodReads.
I do a lot of focusing on myself during this time that I’m at home by myself. Even if it’s sleeping in and lounging on the couch with my laptop, it’s all about me getting that time and to re-energize myself.
However, that’s not the important thing about these trips.
The most important thing is T getting to be with his grandparents.
My parents live 200 miles away, and his grandparents on the other side are even farther. When I was growing up, all of my grandparents lived much closer (until the paternal ones moved, but we still saw them often). I vividly remember going to Nana and Papap’s house with the giant blackberry bush, and going to Grandpa’s for milkshakes, and watching Shirley Temple movies at Grandma’s or playing with her Cabbage Patch dolls on the sun porch.
Not only that, but I spent a lot of time growing up with other family members. My older cousins babysat us, and one was my cheerleading coach for a couple of years. I spent a lot of time on the playground at the elementary school my aunt lives next door to, or playing in her backyard where we could hear the BART train pass by on occasion.
We still make it to family events. Two weekends ago, we went to the Bay Area for my cousin’s baby shower. Every (okay, almost every) Easter we visit another aunt’s house for the annual family get-together. My paternal family just keeps getting bigger, and these events show me what my son might be missing out on. Sometimes I am struck with memories from my childhood, and the majority of them involve family.
Weekend trips to the Bay Area, or plans for them, get lost in the shuffle of every day life. I put it off and put it off, until suddenly it’s been months since we’ve seen family.
This is what I meditated on while T was at my dad’s for the past week. How important it is that his childhood memories be flooded with family time. How important it is to make even just weekend trips to visit my mom, my dad, cousins, aunts, uncles, family. It’s vital in his development, for his well-being, to have a strong sense of familial connection with these people we call relatives. I want him to grow up with fond memories of his enormous family.
So, while I’m beyond grateful for the time to myself to re-energize and re-organize my life, what matters most is the time T had to spend with his family. Now to evaluate how to make that happen more often. Maybe with me included next time.
Oh how I love that cabin…