Since the beginning of last summer, I’ve been trying to instill a sense of extended family in my girls. Â To let them know that while we see each other allÂ theÂ time, grandma often, the Albany based uncle sometimes, the Hoboken based auntÂ occasionally theirÂ family extends beyond that. Â The genesis of this undertaking was the death of my aunt (mom’s sister) nearly a year ago.
Never super close, I always knew when needed I could call and she would do what she had to do. Â When my younger brother died, I knew I would need help until my older brother made his way south from Albany and although it was not who my mother would have made her first choice to be to around I made the call-and she was on a plane. Â As I thought about that moment, and a few others from the far reaches of my youth, I realized it was my uncle (mom’s brother) who really embodied that spirit and fueled by my mother.
In the days surrounding my aunt’s death, I realized howÂ weakenedÂ my uncle was. Â In that time frame I was dealing with my own set of issues relating to Risa’s failing health and getting the girls through that, so in a lot of ways I was out of the loop-intentionally by me and by my family trying to protect me.
What many don’t know is about a month after my aunt passed, and a month before my uncle’s death he and I had a conversation. Â While he would not let me go to his house to visit, I was able to share with him some thoughts onÂ family andÂ to thank him for at least giving me an example.
When my father died (I was just over 5 when thatÂ occurred) I can remember my uncle being omnipresent, and his family being present as well. I saw my cousins if not often, enough to know them well, and have shared memories about growing up with them. Â And I also know if I ever need anything from a family member they are a call away-no questions asked. Â I hope they know that about me as well, but that is for their blogs I guess.
As all of this was going on, I realized my girls really did not have that sense of extendedÂ family and while there were a ton reasons and explanations for this, I could also actively do something to change it. Â Slowly and where it made sense I’ve been able to.
It’s anÂ investment of time that is worth making. Â So when I had to give up a night and a day to make sure my girls spent time with their cousin in Hoboken, I volunteered for baby-sitting duty. Â When my cousin’s oldest had his Bar Mitzvah (this weekend), I made the trip to Brooklyn twice to make sure my kids spent quality time with more than six of their cousins. Â When Risa’s cousin invited us to his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I made arrangements to give up two days to make sure my girls were there. Â With my niece coming into town in June, I will try to swing things so the girls can spend as much time as they can with her. Â When I can, I will keep inviting my brother and his family over for events and holidays, so the sense of family can be natural
Sure I could be doing a bunch of other things, knocking things off the list-but I think this is time well invested. Â Call it the super-sized family plan.