We were so blessed with this visit from my sister, niece, cousin and cousin-nephews, or whatever odd title we should give those wonderful boys! I was blissed out (ha - this is funny - the maternal family name for all of us is Bliss) pretty much the whole time, even in those moments when Ani and I got to practice the difficult listen-and-use-your-words skill that is so very trying. Getting to practice while in the presence of a little boy who is well-practiced at using his words, in articulate and compassionate ways, and in the presence of his loving mama, was really good for us! I'll take that kind of practice any day over the two of us haggling it out over and over. Lucy and Eliza were glued together from the moment she leapt from the car, and thankfully Cole and Ani immediately engaged themselves in creating lego creatures and flying things and playing "Jack and Annie" to the fullest of their imaginations. Which left wee little Niles for me to get to know...oh man. Talk about Love. He wanted to wash the dishes for every meal (and his patient mama somehow helped him do this, without breaking a single dish), he sharpened every pencil in the house, he helped me make pancakes in the morning, and he overcame his fear of our cat Charlie, finally helping feed him on his last morning here. I don't know how long it had been since my cousin Kelly and I got to sit and have an uninterrupted conversation, but it happened this week! More than once! My sister would deny this vehemently, but she is the glue for this kind of gathering. She is the trusted, beloved auntie who is there...for everyone. She was the way this week even happened, offering to drive with Kelly, even though they were just here 3 weeks ago. She is the person the frustrated, tired, lonely and left-out kid goes to for a snuggle, a book, a walking companion. I am so grateful for her and for her determination to keep our families interwoven!
I could really go on and on about the days we had - we spent a day at the beach! got sunburned! yes, yes, then it snowed, but!! - and how awesome it was to parent with TWO MAMAS while D got some extra work done, instead of doing it alone - but I know that the particulars are probably only interesting to our immediate families! What I will say is that it is really being brought home to me how terribly important it is to have women friends in my daily life. Life has not gotten easier as a mom, as a wife, as a woman, and when I talk to other women at the weary end of day, I find that their struggles and their swings between deep gratitude, joy, wonder and confusion, panic and anxiety are so similar to mine. It is healing to know that, even if we can't share The Answer, we are able to share the daily path and not feel so darn alone.
My brother-in-law would quickly quip that there is an easy answer to further healing for me - move to Wisconsin! And Ani would agree - she talked for hours about moving to another house - a house in Wisconsin! oh, oh, a house NEXT DOOR to Aunt Lissie! On "Don't Ever Leave Aunt Lissie Avenue" (I kid you not, spoken with absolute teary seriousness). The Love was here this week. We were filled.