Family is important. As a kid, you hear it all the time, and as a parent, you start to notice yourself saying it all the time. At least I do. And while visits with grandparents and siblings may happen with some frequency, when it moves beyond that first layer (for lack of a better term), I have come to realize that the more you put in to those relationships, the more your kids (and you) will get out of them.
This is something I think about often as a mother to two girls- on my side, they have no first cousins. So the ball is in my court to create those close relationships for them now so that they can continue them long into the future.
But it isn't served up to you on a silver platter. You have to work at it- stalk down mutually open dates for visits, figure out flights, get over your fear of feeling like you are "inconveniencing" someone by declaring that you will indeed be at a hotel a few miles from there home on such and such date.
My grandma Nora had 2 sisters- Molly & Edith. Between the 3 of them, they have 6 daughters (my mom being one of them). Those daughters had a bunch of kids- 13 in total (for my mom, it was just me- I can only imagine I was more than enough to handle). Of that 13, 6 are girls, and we are all very close in age. And once, many many years ago, a few our moms took us on vacation together- Park City, Utah and an overnight to Las Vegas. The fact that I remember it so well is proof that is was hugely important. As the lone cousin living in the northeast, and not being on an official "first cousin" basis, I rarely got to spend time with everyone outside of special occasions.
3 of those girls- Elisa, Brooke and myself- have 5 year old daughters. 2 of said 5 year old daughters are named Alexa. The last time they were all together was a little over 2 years ago- and my Alexa has not stopped talking about it ever since. So a couple months ago, I decided to put on my big girl panties (or maybe better described in this context as "mom jeans" but the term is so unsettling) and plan a trip to see them all (and then some) in Birmingham, AL.
This past weekend, Alexa and I boarded a plane, wearing smiles from ear to ear, equally excited for a mommy/daughter getaway and quality time with some of our cousins. It was 48 hours of total joy for us both. Granted, there were meltdowns that had me psychotically texting my husband, but that is to be expected when spending 24/7 with a 5 year old girl...at least my 5 year old girl.
As shy as she is, Lex immediately took to her cousins. Within 30 minutes on Friday night, she and the other Alexa had put on the matching pjs we brought down for everyone, and were inseparable. And when the third 5 year old girl in the crew, Maddie, entered the scene on Saturday, it was just the same. Fast friends, chatting and drawing at lunch, getting manicures, and being silly.
It is crazy how, even though the technical blood-relative proximity is not close, there is this immediate element of closeness that the words "my cousin" bring to a relationship. I feel it with my generation on this branch of our very confusing family tree- even extending to the husbands and wives, such an amazing bunch- and I plan to do everything I can to set Alexa and Goldie up for the same success.
Here are some more pictures from our weekend- smiles all around, and for sure moments that Alexa will never forget: