When I was growing up our family (first cousins, second cousins and some third and fourth cousins) were relatively close by and we spent weekends, birthdays and holidays together. Our parents and older cousins had jobs, sometimes two jobs, but no one ever seemed too busy to find time for family. We quarreled and drew lines in the sand (a few fist fights even broke out) but at the end of the day sat down, we laughed at ourselves and shared a good meal. Are we really that much busier today and that much more focused on ourselves that we can't think beyond our own needs? Have we forgotten that family does matter?
When you ask Eliza who her family is she will tell you: "Mama, Nana, Peter, Matthew, Adriana, Aunt Bonnie, Aunt Cindy, Aunt Mal, Aunt Carolyn, Nana Wilda, Cerissa, Uncle Ken, "the cousins" (Nicole's and Tracey's children), John, Patti, Bosley and Pumpkin (don't ask)." If you know my immediate family, you will realize there are some notable absences from the list. I find this very sad because Eliza does not, and likely will not, ever get to know these people, people I grew up with and people who I watched grow up. How busy can people be that they can't make time to spend with a 5 year old? Very, very, very busy I am told. At what point am I permitted to stop trying to include actual family who can't be bothered to get to know Eliza?
Some people may argue that it isn't Eliza that they don't like, but rather it is me they would prefer not to share an afternoon with. Fair enough, but there is nothing stopping someone from taking Eliza out for an afternoon (trust me on this one) or even acknowledging her birthday with a simple card. But what is a parent to do? Do I keep telling Eliza who her family is and have her disappointed when they don't show up for events or show up in body but not spirit? Or do I let her craft her own "family" from the people who love her and want to be an active part of her life, but who are not even related to her?
Family does matter. Right?