We finally made it to Texas late Saturday night. It was great to see my parents and get settled in. Their house is so beautifully decorated! My mom is just as much a freak about Christmas as I am, so seeing the winter wonderland that she put together made me finally feel Christmas-ey. I hated not buying a tree this year, but it just wasn’t worth the money when we wouldn’t be there to enjoy it.
Yesterday we drove out to see the Ogre’s family, none of whom had met Liam. They were so happy to see him, and we were so happy to see them! We haven’t seen our niece and nephews since May, and the visit was so short then that we barely got to spend any time with them. Our newest little nephew Louie was born while we were visiting, so in my mind he was still a newborn. But he’s so big now!
It makes me sad to see them growing up so fast. I don’t even know them; they’re practically strangers. We know each other by pictures; in our house, we show the kids pictures of their aunts, uncles and cousins all the time. We started this so Sienna wouldn’t forget the people who love her; now it’s become a way for Charlotte (and eventually Liam) to begin to know these people they spend so little time with. I know that in our siblings’ houses they do the same thing, that our precious little niece and our darling nephews know us as the pictures on the wall, not as living, breathing people who love them to pieces.
When we first moved to Las Vegas, it was liberating. We needed the space. The Ogre and I had many issues to work through in our marriage and we needed breathing room to do it. We had one daughter and another on the way, and moving away gave us the chance to figure out who we were as a family, apart from the families we grew up with. It was a great experience; we’ve learned so much, we’ve become better parents, and our relationship is so different, so much better. We love each other more fully than we did before. We’re more gentle with each other. We listen to each other better.
It was necessary for the survival of our family to get away. But now that we’ve grown so much, we’re starting to feel the pangs of being so far from the other people we love the most. I hate watching my little godson grow up through pictures on his mama’s blog. I want to be there on his birthdays to squeeze him and kiss him and tell him about the day he was born, how we were so sure he was going to be a girl, how his mom was so brave, how his daddy was so proud he was practically bursting, how being made godparents for the first time was almost like having another child of our own. I hate watching our delicate little niece grow up so far from her other female cousins. I want to be there for her, and for her mom, to help them navigate the world of early girl-dom. Those waters can be treacherous, and I wish I could be there to show them the mistakes I made so they won’t have to make the same ones. I hate the fact that I barely know little Louie, that if I saw him in a crowd of other babies I wouldn’t even be able to pick him out as my nephew. It’s heartbreaking.
I miss my brothers-in-law too. I miss their horribly inappropriate jokes and the way the Ogre laughs around them, the way he’s someone with his brothers that he never is with anyone else. I wish our daughters had their uncles around all the time, to toughen them up a little and give them a little extra love. I miss my sister-in-law, the way she comes through a room like a tornado, all spit and fire with half her sentences coming out in Italian.
And it’s worse with my own family. At least my in-laws have kids of their own to keep them busy; my sister, my brother and his wife, and my littlest brother who’s just now in college only have my kids. My parents have only three grandchildren who live halfway across the country. It kills me that I can’t just drop by with the kids whenever I want, that my sister can’t come pick up Charlotte to go shoe shopping (their mutual favorite activity), that I can’t drive Sienna down to A&M; for a surprise visit to her uncle Jackson, who she loves probably more than she loves me and the Ogre, and who could probably get a lot of girls if he walked around campus with his adorable niece. I wish I could make annoyingly frequent visits to my brother and sister-in-law’s house with Liam, so they’d get baby fever and have a child of their own. I miss my grandparents, and I hate that my kids get to see them so infrequently. I know they don’t have many more years left to spend with them.
I know that God’s plan for us, for now, is to stay in Vegas. I know that it may be in His plan for us to never come back to Texas, but I really hope not. I’m trying to be patient and wait, but I’m not very good at it. I really hope that one day soon we’ll all be together again, and not just for whirlwind visits when we’re all so busy we barely see each other. I want to be able to kidnap my little niece and nephews for raucous sleepovers involving popcorn, movies and way too much candy. I want to make big dinners for my parents and siblings while they all play ping-pong in the living room. I want to drop my kids off with their grandparents so the Ogre and I can actually have a conversation.
Actually, now that I’ve said it, maybe that’s really what I miss the most. Free babysitting.