Long Distance Family

Last weekend there were a series of crazy happenings that just kept slowing our day down. In fact, that’s life, especially in this busy season. My parents came to visit and to celebrate my daughter Lily’s First Communion with us. They flew down to avoid driving through the mountains, but their flights left much to be desired. They got to spend roughly 12 hours on their flight here and from airport arrival to deplaneing probably 16 on the way home. (It’s a 9 hour drive.) I want my parents to be able to come visit easily (and more than once a year) so I was hoping for a super pleasant flight experience that would make them confident to try again soon. This was not that trip. I have a feeling they won’t be coming back unless it’s in their Subaru.

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While my parents were here we moved our three girls into one bedroom, and Nick and I camped out on an air mattress in our 8 year old’s room, so my parents could have a comfortable bed and an available bathroom (that they didn’t have to share with 5 kids). You could say our bedrooms were a little chaotic. The very first thing I did to restore order after the visit was to put away the air mattress and move the bed back. I don’t know about you, but when my house starts feeling too crowded with stuff or just out of order it ramps up my stress level. (One lovely extra of having my parents visit was that as I drove the kids to school my mom would make their beds and pick up their rooms for a few minutes. Since Springtime Slide is a very real thing in our house, the state of their bedrooms was starting to reflect summer approaching. Thank God for Moms!)

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While my parents were here I offered them the only experience a busy mom of 5 can offer…we split carpool duties. My parents helped me Costco shop. They took care of four of the crew while I took a mini road trip with my oldest son. They ate drive thru chicken and hard boiled eggs and didn’t complain once. They watched more than their fair share of little league sports. And my kids were delighted by their attention. At first I felt awful that my parents were going to visit and essentially be sent on their way with two kids to get across town to one ball game while I took 3 more to a different field for another game. But it turns out that allowed them to give my kids the one thing I can’t ever seem to give them: one-on-one attention. With 5 kids, and a lot of solo parenting while my husband works, my crew is lucky to share attention with just a few siblings. Other than at bedtime when I read stories they hardly ever get a moment that is just with me. (Even bedtime stories are within earshot of their roommates!) But while Nanee and Papa watched Lucas play baseball, they solved Sodoku puzzles with Grace. Nanee played Barbies with the girls. My dad watched Sportscenter with the boys. And I even got 3 hours in the car to talk to my 10 year old son about everything under the sun. He told me about the conservation and safety he learned about from his course, he told me about school and friendships, and I taught him that Honey BBQ Frito Twists are the perfect roadtrip snack. (My man bought Cheeto Hot Fries! Without this trip, and my ability to focus attention on just him, I would have completely MISSED the chance to right this parenting failure!)

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My parents and I have always been extremely close. They have counseled me through life and encouraged me in difficult stages. This visit, especially during this long stretch of spring recruiting, was a rare glimpse of life with grandparents in town, and it was heavenly.

This week, now that life is back to normal, I am especially grateful for that break. As I glance ahead to the schedule of events for the evening: 4 dance classes, a swim camp, a baseball game and a school musical, I am reminded of how nice it was to have family to lean on for help. It’s a hard thing to ask of friends and neighbors, for them to be like family to your kids. This Saturday I have to rely on a friend to shuttle one daughter to softball while I drive another to a game in another town. It is a humbling thing to have to go to another busy mom and say “I need help. I can’t find a way to do this on my own.” But that’s where I’m at. It is also a beautiful thing, to find people who are willing to be your lifeline, your family away from family. I will never stop appreciating those hands that have reached out to help me along.

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