There’s something undeniably special that happens when family gathers—the shared history, stories, traditions, patterns of communication. It was a gift to see Chris’s mom connecting with her siblings and cousins (and her own unique bonds to each of them), and see that love for family reflected in the next generation of Chris and his five siblings and many, many cousins. Mostly the gift was in knowing that this is Theo’s family too, and that he will grow up with an example of what family can offer.
Attending the family reunion this year was really illuminating for me. We went last year when Theo was two months old and the timing was all wrong. I was still very much in my “fourth trimester”, my body and spirit still deep in healing/recovery mode. It was too soon, it was forced, and it was honestly a bit traumatic for me. I was so raw and vulnerable and suddenly facing about 75 people who I felt I needed to make small talk with and show that I could hang.
Reflecting on it now, I see that forcing it before I was ready made me totally blind to what a beautiful gathering this reunion actually is. To be honest, I had kind of been dreading it for months leading up to it. Once I got there, though, I was able to drop in and see it in a new light, which is the light of what it can be for my son. We had a great time. Theo got to meet a bunch of his cousins, who took them in as one of their own, playing gently with him and showing curiosity and tenderness towards him. Watching everyone show him so much love and affection, I felt proud to be part of this family in a way that I would never have been able to feel before I had a child with one of them. Theo is my point of entry into what my mom always craved when she had children—a large, loving family—and what I didn’t realize I was craving so much until now.
By, Julia Alter
© Birth Love Family