Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Extended Family

When I was growing up, my immediate family included my mom and dad and my two sisters. My father was an only child so there were no aunts or uncles on his side, his father died when he was 3 so there was no grandfather, and his mom (my Grandma Colvin) lived in Evansville, IN, approximately 4 hours away.

My mom has two sisters, one of them being her twin. One lived/s in Evansville and the other in Jacksonville, FL. Her dad passed away when Catherine was a baby so there wasn't really a grandfather on her side either. Her mom (my Grandma Baggett) lived with her stepdad in Louisiana.

I tell you all of these facts as a preface to this statement: I didn't have much contact with any of my extended family. We saw Grandma Colvin pretty frequently (unfortunately she passed away when I was 12), and towards the end of her life she lived with us for a while, and then in a nursing home two streets from our house. We saw Aunt Jackie frequently, either us going to Evansville or her coming to us. I think there were a few times she took me and my sisters on trips or we stayed at her house with her. I only remember seeing my Aunt Beth, Uncle John, and cousins Erica, Seth, and Sam a handful of times. There was one fabulous Christmas when both aunts and their families came to our house to celebrate. I wish I knew the logistics of how all those people fit in our house, but I love looking at the pictures. I also remember visiting Aunt Beth in Florida one time, but I think it was a stopover on our way home from Disney World.

I never really minded any of these things, I accepted it without questioning.  It's just how things were.  The only time it ever bothered me was at Girl Scout cookie sales time.  I had a friend, Casi, whose entire extended family seemed to live in Somerset.  And she always sold a ton of cookies because she had family who bought them.  I had to go door to door through the neighborhood to sell just a few boxes.  I was so jealous.

Now that I'm grown, I do mind that I don't really know any of my extended family.  Joey spent the first 10 or so years of his life in Maryland surrounded by his mom's family, including aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  Because of that, he still stays in touch with them now.  I have only recently reconnected with two (of three) of my cousins and both of my aunts on Facebook.  If not for that, our only communication would be an annual Christmas card.

I always said I would do it differently when I had kids.  I would want my children to know all their aunts and uncles and cousins.  And for the first 3 and a half years of Logan's life, that's how it was.  We lived about an hour and a half away from their cousins.  All three of them.  They saw and played with them, regularly.  They knew all of their aunts from both sides of the family and often spent weekends with their grandparents.  That changed, though, when we moved to Charlotte.

Now we are approximately 7 hours away from all of our Kentucky family and we're about 7-8 hours away from Catherine who now lives in Tallahassee, FL.  My newest niece is now 6 months old and I've yet to meet her.  My oldest nephew knows me and is comfortable around me (I think), but my two younger nephews and my other niece need some time to warm up to me each time they see me.  My kids miss their extended family all the time, especially considering they have a "twin" cousin each.  I hate that it is like this.  Joey and I both love and miss our families, but Charlotte is more practical for us right now.  Charlotte has better (and more variety of) doctors to manage Joey's care, plus a great job for me.

Plus we really do like living here.  We just miss our families.

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