I haven’t lived within 1,000 miles of my family in almost twelve years. I am very used to living very far from them, and all the pros and cons that come with it. It is hardest, of course, now that I’m a mom myself. My sister is a single mom with four kids. I wish I could be there for her daily. My brother and his wife live next door to my parents. Their kids beat a path between the two homes. Often I wish the same were true for my own.
The Gorilla’s parents and siblings live even farther away from us. They live on the other coast, and we make an effort to get together frequently, but still it is not enough.
Selfishly, I’ve envied my sibling’s proximity to one another and to my parents because they all help one another. They help with each other’s kids, they help with each other’s lawn. They spend casual weekends together without all the hullabaloo of a holiday. They all go to all the birthday parties, and they swap car seats like candy.
When we come to visit, we fall into our own sort of routine, but we are still the visitors. I feel frustrated that we can’t pack a zillion memories into every single visit, while also resting. I want to drive down memory lane, and I think I take my kids and husband past the same spots in the town, share the same stories. And then when I’m by myself, running into Sonic or WalMart, maybe I make a familiar detour, and walk down my own nostalgic alley, the one full of memories I don’t share.
I’ve realized, this trip, that what I appreciate most about being with my family is that they love my kids with unbounded hearts. We have other people who love our kids, I can write and write and write about children and parenting and motherhood, but there are only a handful of people on this earth who delight in my children in the same way that I do. My mom looks at my son with her eyes lit up. My dad carries around my daughter and whispers in her ear about the birds in the backyard. It is special, this kind of love.
Tonight I was walking across the lawn from my brother's house to my parent's, I had my son in my arms and my daughter was skipping behind us. It was a brisk day and the sun was setting. The air smelled like Oklahoma and we were all full of home cooked food and tired from playing. I no longer want to come to my parents needing help with my kids, I just want to share with someone who loves them as much as I do. This is the reason to travel to Oklahoma. For roots, for good food, but most of all for family. The deepest definition of that word.