We are extremely blessed to have amazing people on both sides of our family and a bunch of fantastic friends. Despite living in different countries we stay in touch in all the ways that modern friends and families do through a combination of telephone, Skype, FaceTime, email, Facebook and instagram and therefore do not generally feel that we miss out on events in the UK. However, since Teddy has arrived I am more conscious of time flying away from us and I feel more keenly the months passing without us having actual physical face to face contact with the people we love. Whilst all the methods of communication named above have an amazing purpose nothing can beat spending actual time in real life with family and friends and this week has been a reminder of that fact.
Last Sunday the first of our half-term visitors arrived in the shape of my sister-in-law, her husband and three boys aged 8, 5 and 3. On Thursday we waved goodbye to them as they drove back across Germany and Holland to return home on the Rotterdam-Hull ferry. We filled the time with ice-creams at the amazing eis cafe in town, a trip to Bielefeld Tierpark (a brilliant free zoo), a day skiing in Winterberg (where two nephews skied for the very first time, the older one skied for the first time since he was 3 and the littlest one finished the day saying he never wanted to leave), a morning wandering around the market (with the requisite hot chocolate obviously….) and an afternoon at the local swimming pool. Whilst all of these things have been brilliant fun what I have enjoyed most is seeing Teddy interact with his ‘big’ cousins. He is the first grandchild on my side of the family and so whilst much adored does not have quite the same kinds of experiences that he does when we see my husband’s family where he is number 8 (and boy number 7) grandchild. Watching his face light up as his cousins let him join in with their games has been delightful and I am already looking forward to our big family holiday in August when he will be with all 8 of his cousins. As our only child (although hopefully not forever!) he has a very different time at home than when at his childminders (who looks after a number of older children) and I am always quite conscious of ensuring that he has plenty of opportunities to play with other children. He was in his element throughout their stay and was very bad tempered for the afternoon after they had left as suddenly he was back to being with just boring old Mummy and Daddy (even if Daddy is the best thing since sliced bread at the moment……)
Thankfully, that evening more family arrived in the shape of Teddy’s paternal grandparents. Having not seen him since early December (other than on the iPad screen!) he had a lovely hour before bed of Nana and Grandad cuddles and even treated us to his first proper steps (if we don’t include the occasional stagger he has done over the last few weeks) The following day my parents and siblings arrived (and no, we don’t really have a big enough house for all these guests) as we had decided to finish the half-term holidays with an early 1st birthday celebration. As both my husband and I are from families of teachers everything has to be crammed into school holidays so for most people it was very much a flying visit but a much appreciated one none the less!
The last week has demonstrated two things; that we have amazing families (which we did know but it is always good to be reminded!) and that face to face time with family and friends is something to be truly thankful for. It has made me even more excited about our move back to the UK this summer as Teddy will be able to spend more time with the grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins who love him so much. For lots of people this kind of interaction with family is something that is easy as people live near each other and see each other regularly. For us it has to be planned and can therefore sometimes be lacking in spontaneity. However, these ordinary moments of Sunday lunches, picnics, games on the beach etc are what I think about when we are living miles from family faced with making friends all over again. It is family (and I am including my closest friends in this group) that is constant whilst everything else in our lives is changing yet again and I consider myself a very lucky girl to have such an amazing safety net beneath me in the shape of an amazing bunch of people!