I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Brutha From Another Mutha

I am lucky enough to be part of a small group of friends who spend a lot of time together. The four of us just seem to work well together. There is no judgement, no pretence, no needing to be anything other than what we are - which is (mostly) normal, suburban parents trying to make the most of our lives and give our kids the best lives we can afford at any one time. Luckily for us, we all have children around the same age - the eldest is only 18 months older than the next one in line, and the youngest is only 2 months from her nearest in line. The group of children (of which there are 11) also just seem to get along famously - the older ones look after the younger ones, the younger ones hero-worship the older ones, and those in the middle just sort of run around together like some sort of pre-teen posse.

It's not at all unusual for us all to start out the day at one person's house, and by the afternoon or evening several kids have swapped houses, or organised their own sleep overs. We'll all go somewhere together and when we leave to go home, we find that nobody has their biological children in the car with them because they have all swapped around. The hippy in me absolutely loves this lifestyle we've all fallen into. I love that I don't feel guilty if one of my kids sleeps over two nights in a row at someone else's house, AND I don't feel some obligation to return the favour (but would be happy to). I love that we can swap clothes between the kids, that the kids who come to my house behave towards me in the same way my own kids do, because they're just that comfortable with us and our home. I love that my kids can approach one of the other adults to help them, feed them, love them as if they were their own. I trust all of the parents in this group with my children's lives, as I would hope they do me....and given my Mama Bear tendencies, I think you all realise just how big that is for me.

I commented about this phenomenon - and how much I liked it - to one of the women in group. Her response was to look at me a bit strangely and say, "But that's just the cousin experience. It's not at all unusual. Didn't you have that growing up? There's nothing special really about it." You know, I pretty sure I didn't have that experience growing up at all. I do vaguely recall spending time with my cousins, but I don't remember this kind of child/parent "it takes a village" sort of experience. I can remember the odd play date, but that's pretty much it in the way of cousin interaction.

Interestingly, of the four families in question, only ONE actually has much in the way of cousins that their kids spend time with. (And not surprisingly, it's the family of the woman in the conversation above.) My kids have cousins, but they live far away. The second family has no cousins to speak of, the third family has a few but none they are in regular contact with. So for this group of kids, their 'cousins' are each other - which makes perfect sense, especially as I consider each of those three women to be my sisters (and in some ways, more "sisterly" than my biological sister, even though I have a good relationship with her.) I love the fact that my own definition of family is now extending to the next generation - that my children will know the love, comfort, affection and safety of having families which are not your blood relation but still very much a part of who you are and how you grow. Hippy or not, this is one part of my life which brings me and my children an absurd amount of joy.

Cousins. They're not just the people you're forced to hang out with on Christmas Day.

1 comment:

The Neighbour's Wife said...

Thank you, sister...