When I had Evie, I expected a lot of changes to occur. I knew I’d have this little baby, completely dependent on me. One part of parenting I never expected was that all of a sudden people who never used to want to see me, would want to see me.. and a lot. Oh, wait, not me.. just my kids, but guess who has to make that happen? Me! A lot of times people talk about losing friends after a baby. I agree that you do lose friends, and the friendships you keep will drastically change, but no one told me my mother was going to want to see me, sorry, see Evie every waking minute.
I get it, I do. She is about the sweetest thing on the planet, and she fills you up with joy. I know why everyone wants to be around her, hell I live everyday spending as much time with her as I can.
Sean and I both come from divorced parents. On my side we have my paternal grandmother (91) who lives in Marblehead. We have my dad and step mom & step sister who live in Parma, and my mom and sister Kristy are also up in Parma. Kaitlyn is in North Canton. My cousins are sprinkled just about everywhere in Ohio. Sean’s mom is in Lakewood along with our niece and her father. Sean’s aunts, uncles and cousins from his moms side are all in the Solon area. Sean’s dad and step mom are in North Canton along with her parents Becky and Jack. Sean’s sister Liana lives in Solon. All of our friends live near Solon, Parma, Streetsboro and Stow.
So let me simplify this, everyone lives NOT in the city of Wadsworth where we do.
I have always been close to my sisters, so I expected they’d want to be a big role in my children’s lives. I never knew that even if I wasn’t close to my parents, or Sean to his, that they would want to be close to the kids. I mean it makes sense, but how exactly do I encourage a relationship for the kids if there isn’t one between me and that person.
Fast forward to now. I’ve gone from 0 kids to 3 in four years. Our relationships have changed drastically, but it has taken a lot of effort. I’ve learned recently that it is very important to me that the kids not only know their family, but are comfortable and excited to see them. You know how you make that happen? You have to be around them.
Fitting that many people and that many visits into our schedule has proven to be very difficult. We have routine breakfasts in place, I make weekly trips to Marblehead, and we fill in all the spare hours with visits when we can. It’s exhausting. I’m learning how to balance it all through trial and error. I can tell that sometimes I go too far overboard and it will be weeks, sometimes months that we will go without a day alone as a family of 5. Those days are so important, so we are working on it. Nothing is ever going to be perfectly balanced.
Until recently, I scheduled time with family out of obligation. I felt guilty that I was choosing who my children should be close with. I loved everyone, and enjoyed seeing them, but I wasn’t sold on the idea that I needed to see them all that often. However, the strangest thing happened. After this period of obligation, came a new feeling, I think they call it bonding? I started looking forward to visits, and enjoying them in a new way. Watching the girls run up and hug everyone when we arrive; engaging in talks and playing with them and getting upset when it was time to go was not just a good thing for them, but it was for me. Finding a balance will be a constant struggle, but how could I look at all of these people who love my children, and actually they do love me and Sean too, as a burden and not a blessing?
I will help facilitate relationships for my children as best I can. More importantly, I will work on and maintain my individual relationship with my family the best I can. One day, the girls will be old enough to maintain their relatioships seperately. I want to lead by example and show them what being part of a family looks like. Even a super messy, complicated one like ours can be full of a lot of love. Above everything else, I’ve let down a wall that has been up for a very, very long time. Watching my children love so openly, earnestly, and freely has brought so much light to some dark places for me. Yes, our relationships have a much longer history and are a lot more complex then what my girls could understand, but they are seeing all the good in our family. It’s time I focus on that, and start to heal too.