What Does Having An Extended Family Really Mean?
When Emily and I learned we were going to have a baby (about a month short of three years ago as of this writing) we were petrified. Neither one of us really had any close family here – most of those folks were up north, too far away to help us at a moment’s notice. We were freaked out that we were going to be alone on this journey and – particularly because our lofty goals would undoubtedly cause us to have crazy and unpredictable schedules – helpless to do anything about it.
But over and over (and over) again, we’ve been given proof that we were wrong.
Take this past week, for instance.
Emily discovered on Thursday morning that our normal babysitter was not going to be available to watch Addison on Friday. Apparently, there had been a notice taped to the wall throughout the week, but neither my wife nor myself had registered it. Our fault, obviously. Nonetheless, we had no choice but to immediately go into what I call “crisis mode” in order to find someone to watch our daughter. After all, neither one of us was in a position where we could really take a day off. We checked with everyone in our normal support group (which, by the way, is pretty extensive – we are already very blessed to have so many people that we can call on) but at such short notice, no one was available.
As a last-ditch effort, Emily decided to post something on Facebook to our friends to see if anyone could help. One of our writing and production friends (and, in particular, one of Em’s best pals in the business – I won’t name names because she knows who she is) contacted us to let us know that her daughter might be able to watch Addie. When that fell through, she offered to do it herself.
The result was a magical day for Addison and a day saved for us in the clutch.
Just to be clear – this isn’t about the people who weren’t able to help us. Those people would have taken Addie in a heartbeat if they could have. They have taken her at a moment’s notice and probably will again. We are so blessed to have those people in our lives. Addie is, too. And we couldn’t have come this far without them.
This is about the experience of discovering just what, truly, an Extended Family is, and to see just how absolutely unfounded our original fears were – to the point that we realize that not only do we have an incredible and supportive Extended Family, but because of people like our Friday Day-Saver, it continues to grow. Not only are we blessed, but we feel so much joy in our hearts knowing how many people genuinely love and care for Addie, to the point that I believe she will never lack for people who support, help, love and care for her throughout her lifetime.
What an incredible thing.
Our cup runneth over, indeed.
An Extended Family isn’t just blood. It’s the people who support you. It’s the people who lend a hand, particularly when you’re most in need. It’s the people you trust with your life and with the things you value the most – because those people value those things just as highly (sometimes if for no other reason than because you value them). They’re the people who aren’t just there prepared to pick you up when you fall, they’re the ones who go out of there way to keep you from falling. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the people who fall into this bracket.
And though you may feel alone – though you may feel as if you don’t have anything that resembles an Extended Family – check again. Look. Reach out. They’re there.
You may be surprised to find that those people have been waiting for you to do so all along.