Our kids are never going to really know their family, are they? With this nomadic military life, trying to reinforce the family bond between my kids and their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins is hard. While we try to work visiting family into as many vacations or trips as possible, it just never seems like enough time to make the "family-ness" stick.
We were extremely fortunate to live near family during a three-year assignment when our boys were very small, but how much can they actually remember? We have missed birthdays, anniversaries, award ceremonies, baby showers, holiday pageants, sport events, and just everyday normal family events. The phrase "out of sight, out of mind" makes me worry that there is just no way our kids will ever truly know our family.
Or so I thought until my boys got their soccer jerseys this year. The local soccer club allows players to choose their own numbers for their jerseys. You go to a store, buy the uniform, and they will press the number right then and there.
On the way to the store, I was asking my youngest if he knew what number he wanted for his jersey. He thought about it for a moment, and instead of choosing the numbers of me or his dad, he asked what number his uncle wore when playing soccer in high school.
I gotta admit, I got a little verklempt. Not just because the uncle he was referring to was my brother, but because somewhere along the route of rushed visits, quick phone calls, birthday cards, and hours looking at photo albums, our family obviously left an imprint on our boys -- he remembered that he played soccer in High School. In High School! The family ties have managed to stay tight.
Either that, or he just really looks up to his uncle because of all the stories I've told about how I was tortured by him while growing up.
How do you ensure the family ties stay strong???