A different kind of family

September 25, 2013  •  3 Comments

My childhood and teen years were spent in my parent's home town where their parents lived. And their parent's parents. I grew up in a house which was owned by my grandparents who lived in a different house just a long walk away. I spent summers playing kick-the-can with cousins. Every single holiday, I was but one being in a sea of aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, grandparents. I loved it all and knew that someday, I would raise my own children the same. They would never be far from their relatives, I declared.

Well, the opposite became true and I blame it on my strange inability to feel content in any one place and also my love for mountains. From the day I left for college, I couldn't wait to leave the Midwest. It took me awhile but I managed to travel a lot during my college career, I went from Wisconsin to New Mexico, back to Minnesota, out to Colorado, back to Minnesota (flat broke and living with mom and dad), then out to Oregon where I finally graduated and fell in love with my new town. After having kids, it was there in a small Southern Oregon community that I began to understand the real meaning of friendship and sisterhood. Raising kids so far from any family weighed heavily on me. I felt incredible guilt that my kids only saw their relatives but once a year, more, if my parents could make the expensive trip out to us. So, in the absence of grandparents, cousins and aunties, came my best friends and their children. They were my new family and support. Thanksgiving and Christmas were never lonely.

Here, back in the Midwest, but still far from family, I am once again creating a different kind of family. Neighbors have become my sisters and their children are like new cousins. Recently, we celebrated a birthday here in our neighborhood. And I was reminded again how special we are to each other. It is so often that we tag team with the kids and watch out for them even if we have to scold them like our own (just the boys really). So Happy Birthday to Kumani who is now double digits. Here are some photos from the gathering, neighborhood style. The boys smell sugar and are closing in. Get lost, boys!

Sorry Hello Kitty but you are going down.

Chris, in his protective piñata helmet. I wouldn't trust these kids with a bat either.

Audrey is very talented.

Craft time for the girls. The boys retreated to the tennis court with sugar-satisfied bellies.

Just today, one of the neighbor boys has moved away back to New York. He has grown on me even though I disliked him at first. I've had to remind him umpteen times to watch his language and stop corrupting my kid. But I've also hugged him when the wrestling matches get out of hand and tears are shed. His sweet, wonderful smile has ended up in many of my photographs including in this post and I will miss him for sure.


Comments

Angelique(non-registered)
Jessica,
You are a deeply meaningful soul. Thank you for
Letting us feel things through your lens.
ali deck(non-registered)
Beautiful work Jess! I love the stairs shot and the last two with that gorg light
Lori (Marcus and Madeline's Nana)(non-registered)
Beautiful photos and how I love the relationships that have formed for all of you.
Can't wait for my next visit out.
Hug them all for me.
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