I come from a Big family. Growing up most events were loud boisterous affairs, think My Big Fat Greek Wedding only louder and gaudier. If you don’t believe me, I have the numbers to prove it. I have 6 aunts and 3 uncles and 22 first cousins- and that’s just on my mother’s side. Most of them lived within driving distance and we would meet often for many such loud and boisterous occasions. I mostly felt lost in the crowd.
It may sound like I didn’t appreciate what I had and honestly I probably didn’t. But then I got married and moved to the US. Guess how many relatives I now have within driving distance? Zero! Zilch! Zippo! Now that I really don’t like!
So this weekend was really special because I finally nagged my uncle and aunt into visiting us. They just moved to the east coast from Europe and are in the midst of doing up their new home and yet they made the eight hour journey to come see us. (Send pics of baby with puppy dog eyes and pouty lips to guilt family into visiting, works like a charm) We booked a cabin at a nature preserve and headed into the mountains. It was a quiet, tranquil sort of getaway with just the five of us. We had loads of fun hiking, barbequing and staying up late stargazing and just talking.
On one of the nights my aunt turned to me and said “You are a remarkable mom, so attentive, so caring and always there when Gia needs you. You know that, don’t you?” My reaction was awkward, as it is to most compliments and I tried to laugh it off “Remarkable? What tipped you off?” She said “I’ve raised two boys in this country with almost no help. I know what I am talking about. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to not be hard on yourself. “ The more I think about it, the more sense her words make. We come from these huge families and yet we raise our children here in this vacuum. Away from all the experience, away from all the guidance and sometimes away from all the love; it is both good and bad.
Much about motherhood did not come as effortlessly as I would have liked. Nothing in my previous life had prepared me for the challenges that parenthood would bring. None of the 15 parenting books I read before she was born mentioned how grueling it would be to deal with a child that slept only for three hours at a stretch. How panicked I would feel; when at the start of a 10 hour flight my baby got diarrhea. I dealt with it all, but it wasn’t systematic or graceful. It was haphazard and crazy but it usually works in the end.
Mostly there isn’t time to look back and reflect on the job I am doing really. So when someone comes from a place of love and takes a moment to pat my back, it understandably puts me over the moon. This is the sentiment I will look back at when I go through the days when I feel clueless and second guess myself, the days when I feel like I am barely staying on top of things.
So what I learned this weekend is, every now and then cut yourself some slack and give yourself some credit.
I know every mom deserves more of both!