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Welcome to my musings on pop culture and parenting. I am the Pop Mama and this is a safe place to steal away from your screaming child and get your fix on what's up with Beyonce and great poop stain remover tips.

Monday, August 4, 2014

This Magic Moment

I love summer.  Summer is my favorite.

Growing up, we would travel from the Midwest to New England each summer to visit my mother's side of the family.  She comes from an exceptionally large (and just plain exceptional) family -- she is number 5 out of 16 children.  I have 27 cousins on my mother's side alone.  It makes for a big party.

I have vivid memories of catching fireflies in my grandfather's wooded backyard, jumping off of a boathouse in New Hampshire, making forts in the sandy dirt of my cousins' Rhode Island property and melting into the pack of children that was my family.  Our trips out east were magical.  My grandfather always made a point to do something special with my brother and I while we were visiting.  My aunts and uncles were not unfamiliar or strange, even though I saw them only once a year, they were just part of the village.  It was my second home.

I think a lot about how my large extended family has defined who I am today.  How my father's side of the family, most of whom reside here in my hometown, stretches out to second cousins and beyond -- and I know all of them.  How I don't blink when a family gathering, whether on my mother's or father's side, can easily include around 40 people.  How I feel safe knowing that there is a entire spider-web of love that I can lean on.  How although I don't see them often enough, I truly love knowing about their lives.

This is what I want for my boys.  I want them to know their family -- all of it.  I want them to know that it stretches from coast to coast.  I want them to feel the magic of sparklers and popsicles and cousins you only see once in a great while but become best friends within a moment.  I want them to stay up late playing hard and get up the next day to have start all over again.  To be enchanted by the adventure of a trip and yet safe within the boundaries of a tribe.

So, we went east this summer -- my mom, the boys and I.  And, it was still there -- the electric magic of a sprawling family.  We are all a little older and my boys are the newest generation, but when I stood on the porch and looked around at all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends milling around the party, my eyes filled up.  My heart cracked open.  I am so lucky.  

My boys swam and ran and ate ice cream and danced all day and into the night.  They played "Duck, duck, goose" and swiped around their first sparklers.  When it was dark, I could only see them by the glow sticks they were throwing with my cousin's husband and my 10 year old cousin.  My mind was peaceful.  My heart bursting.  They had seamlessly melted into the pack.

My family, all of it, both sides, is not perfect.  We have quirks and dysfunction.  We have sadness and tragedy.  We also have laughter and camaraderie and an invisible thread that weaves us together.  My boys are part of that now.  And while it may not happen every summer, there is magic when we are all together.  It is everything special.