The End of Something

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. -Jane Howard

Last week I shared a bit about what my family has been up to of late: namely, moving on to a farm where our living situation is essentially like "glorified camping". We will be there for the growing season and after that we are not entirely sure where we will be...

If you think that our living situation is just now getting interesting, you are wrong. Prior to our move onto the farm my little family had been in a large house with many people. It's something I hinted at when I wrote about Little Owl's birth. For the past year we have been living with my family-- my mom, my dad, and two of my brothers. Not uncommon in other cultures, but very unusual in America these days.

My daughter was born at her grandparents home. And lived there for almost the whole first year of her life.

Little Owl going for a joy ride with Grandpa.

Originally we moved in to help ease the transition from me being the main bread winner to Brian graduating from school and taking over that roll so I could take on the roll of mom-about-home. What started as a temporary solution.. turned into a little longer temporary solution. We moved in when I was in my last trimester and only moved out right before Athena's birthday.

Little Owl whispering sweet nothings to Uncle at their home.

You could have written a sitcom about my family's living situation.

Grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, baby, uncle, uncle... Athena spent the first year of her life surrounded by so much love. I didn't need to invest in much "baby gear" because there was always someone around to hold her, rock her, take so I could shower or run to the store.

Little Owl with Uncle while celebrating Christmas in their home.
Blessed. Spoiled. Lucky. Whatever you want to call it... I was. We were.

Having extra hands around was so helpful. Especially those first few months when being a new mom is most overwhelming. I keep telling Brian that we will have to move back in with my family every time we have a new baby. I think he thinks I am joking.

That's not to say it was all bliss. Living with people is always difficult. No matter how hard everyone tries, no matter how much you all love each other, it's impossible to not get on each others nerves, to have some privacy removed, to have some messes that you clean up which aren't yours and vice versa.

Little Owl chilling with Grandma on their front porch.

That's part of life. That's part of living in community. Love and messes.

For my precious daughter I could not have asked for a better introduction to the world, to love, to life, than what living with so much family has done. In the words of Pearl S. Buck:
No two people - no mere father and mother - as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born. 
To my daughter: I pray that you grow in love and learn to hold on tightly to all of those who so carefully held you those first few months of your life. To my family: thank you for being the loving Grandma, Grandpa and Uncles that you are. Thank you for opening your hearts (and personal space) to my little family. We love you. And p.s. we aren't moving that far away.


  1. What a wonderful account of Athena's first year. You are so lucky to have such a supportive and loving family! This post is utterly beautiful, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Jacqueline! Wishing the same for your little family as well!

  2. That's so awesome that you have such a supportive family - It's sad to think about people who don't have that.

    1. Thanks, Jen! I agree completely. I count my blessings daily. I feel VERY lucky.

      Hope you and your little one are well!


  3. Jackie, I loved this post! It reminded me of your family's generosity and hospitality to me and so many others over the years. Your little A is so lucky to have such a wonderful posse of people to love her and help her grow. (It did make me miss my niece though! My sister lived with my parents last summer while my brother in law was in Officer training, and it was so fun to watch my little squishy niece grow so close!) Excited for your new adventures out on the farm!

    1. Hey! Super fun to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words. Have really been enjoying about your adventures, too! Good stuff. Keep it up.


  4. My mum and dad lived with us, then just my mum.
    We were a multi generational North American family in the 1980s and 90s when the push toward institutionalization of loved ones was the trend.
    If my in-laws ever so desire to they can live with us, too.
    I'm glad to see grandparents and grand babies living together, again.


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