Raising a Family Without THE Family

When I left home and headed for university (all those years ago) I was so proud of doing it alone. I moved to a new city, where I knew nobody, to build a life all on my own. I have always had a great relationship with my family, so it wasn't that I couldn't wait to get away from them, it was just time for me to have my own adventure that I could go home and tell them about during the holidays or over the phone. The life that I built was, largely, what I had always imagined it would be. Some years went by and I married, then some more years went by and I was settled down with a couple of kids. Life was good. 

Life was good, provided it was going to plan. My husband and I had a great system of juggling kids and childcare around work, school runs became routine, but then along came a spanner in the works. This year has thrown up a few challenges, the most recent being a seven-year-old with a broken leg. Suddenly you become very aware of needing support around you. There you are on the way to the hospital phoning friends and hoping someone will be able to give up their Saturday afternoon to help you out. Then you bring the patient home and you become dependent on friends being able to do a school run, for example. I am completely unable to just ring my Mum, or my sister, or my Mother in Law just to say 'help can you watch her while I pop to the shops' because they all live hours away. Well, until next week that is. 

The time has come for my Mother in Law to move to a new house, she began looking near her current property, but then decided to stretch her search field a little wider and found her new home just down the road from us. I would never have thought I would have been so happy as to hear the words 'I will be your neighbour'. There was a sigh of relief. She works, so she won’t be there all the time, but to have someone to babysit for a few hours without having to pay a fortune or to have someone to phone in a crisis and they can be over immediately, I cannot wait. Of course, the benefits for my children are even greater, they will have family in our town, something that I never had. Their relationship, whilst strong already, will be unbreakable, and I am so happy they get to experience that. 

In this day in age we are all highly ambitious, most of us want the better house, the better car, the better job, even if it comes at a price. Sadly, that price is usually the family ties. The higher we reach, the further we must travel, and then we only see our family at the odd party, or special holidays, or sadly, funerals. As I have grown up, doing things on my own has become far less important. Nowadays I watch movies set in rural Tuscany and am filled with pangs of envy, three or even four generations crowded around the table at dinner, people always coming and going, how have we allowed that to die? The friends I have in this little Cotswold town are amazing, if it hadn't been for them I would have never got through the past few weeks. It takes a village is a saying which, again, I have found myself using numerous times recently. However, sometimes, I am worried that I am pushing the boundaries of friendship a little far and having a family member to call on would make me a lot more comfortable. Therefore, when my Mother in Law moves in next week I will be welcoming her with open arms, and probably, the biggest bunch of flowers I can find.