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.|
|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.|
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.