What it means to be family

Kathy Krugeradoption, happiness, love, motherhood, perspective, red thread29 Comments

This past weekend I spent time with both sides of my extended family – something that rarely happens.

I hadn’t seen my brother, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephews since Christmas – we can’t believe where the time went. Does the first third of the year always disappear faster than the others?

We don’t see hubby’s side of the family all that often, but we had my mother-in-law stay for ten days and then caught up with his sisters, nieces etc on the occasion of his great-niece’s 1st birthday (which makes me feel rather old).

Of course it was Mother’s Day and it was lovely to spend time with Mum, Dad and my family, as well as to be able to wish my mother-in-law a happy day in person.

it’s natural to reflect on the meaning of family on Mother’s Day – to grieve and miss if you are unfortunate to have lost your Mum (or to be estranged), to count your blessings if you are fortunate to have a good Mum, to have become a mother yourself.

Every year I think of my kid’s birth mothers – their loss and grief and my joy and gain – the balance between the two.

After dreading Mother’s Day during so many infertile years, I don’t want to get too down though – I feel I’m entitled to celebrate (especially after last year when I didn’t get to see my Mum and had the kids on my own all weekend while hubby worked – sort of wonderful, and sort of not!).

I want to stop to savour those hand-made cards and mother’s day stall specials just that little bit more.

And home-made damper, with the kids helping, kneading with love and flour all over the place, sprinkling sultanas for sweetness.

Yummy damper

Yummy damper

My brother-in-law puts the damper in the camp oven and we gather, as families have done since fire was invented, engulfed in wood fire smoke and soon all smelling the same. Like family. We gather around the table to break bread, smear that damper with butter and maple syrup and savour its wood-fire taste.

We gather to toast what it means to be together, with drinks and then dinner and more drinks and then a BBQ breakfast the next morning as if we haven’t eaten enough already.

We gather to talk, and talk some more – the kids to play and play some more.  And ride the quad bikes, and ride some more – and ‘just one more ride Mum’.

Quad biking at my sister's beautiful property

Quad biking at my sister’s beautiful property

That’s the thing when its family – time takes a good while to be enough.

Until we do have to leave, to see hubby’s side (late) for the 1-year-old birthday party and cake and conversation and connection, even it’s not as strong as it is with my family.

And (too) soon, 1-year-olds need to nap and we drift away – to take the last chance to visit the amazing ‘Falling back to Earth’ exhibition at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art on our way home.

Loving the reflection of sky above 'earth'

Loving the reflection of sky above ‘earth’

And so we wait in the final day queues with all sorts of families, not wishing the wait away, just happy to BE together (and me being a tree-ophile, marvelling at the spectacular specimen that is one of three installations in the exhibit).

And then finally we reach the end of the line for the main installation – a captivating collection of 99 replica animals, all appearing to drink from a translucent watering hole, their images mirrored in perfect reflections.

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Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang seeks to convey a breathtaking depth of meaning about a ‘last paradise’ and man’s relationship with our environment and each other. It is quite awe-inspiring to see predator and prey side by side.

I find myself thinking about family – about how we are all different (and sometimes fight with each other) but are all drawn to drink together from the same watering hole that is unconditional love.

How we are all the same.

How my kids can be Chinese and be every bit ours (even as they are also their birthparents). How they can be every bit my parent’s grandchildren.  How cousins are happily cousins. And how when we marry into a family we bond too – not the same cleaving as adoption, but still a connection, a (mostly happy) compromise in drinking at that watering hole together.

The water hole, in Cai Guo-Qiang’s iconic work and in life is never drained if it is filled with unconditional love.

With much love and gratitude to my Mum and family – and to the lovely Jess – I won the mother’s day bouquet, thanks to Fresh Flowers – it was waiting for me when I arrived home from a beautiful weekend. Also linking up with Grace for FYBF because another post just didn’t come out this week.

fresh flowers

Cheers and big, big thanks!

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Kathy KrugerWhat it means to be family

29 Comments on “What it means to be family”

  1. The Plumbette

    Oh you are so deserving of those flowers! What a beautiful post about family. There are days when my extended family drive me batty but I know that if there was ever a crisis they would be the first ones to help in any way. I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day. X

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thank you Bec – you are very sweet. I’m with you on the extended family driving you batty – 10 days with MIL is about the limit, but that doesn’t change the bond really.

  2. homelifesimplified

    Fantastic post hon. How awesome is that property!!! We loved that exhibition too, glad we went when it first opened though Enjoy those gorgeous flowers too – another celebration of life – deb xx

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Deb – whenever we go to my sister’s place I always wonder about whether the acreage lifestyle would be better for our family. But we are only 7 mins from the beach, 7 mins from work (and dance – which is a big deal in our house as you know) and 5-15 minutes to just about anywhere we want to go. Plus we are lucky to live on a lake – so it is nice. And then we can still travel to Brisbane for such great exhibitions plus enjoy the local culture – life is good really!

  3. Me

    Nothing beats the connection that family have. We had my parents and BIL and SIL over for dinner on Sunday night as her boys both live away from the GC – what a great evening (although a lot of work in the cooking but it was my choice) – so much laughter – so many stories told.
    Love those flowers – they are beautiful.
    Have the best week !

  4. Lydia C. Lee

    Lovely post – and as an aside, I’m disappointed I missed that exhibition – I had a number of friends post it on fb…

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Sorry you missed the exhibition too Lydia – I’m like that with lots of things – I want to go, then get trapped in the ‘busyness’ of life, which really is for the living isn’t it!

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Hey Em – wow that week has flown but it was lovely to have such a nice weekend – sometimes you need to just really step away and soak it all in – and the flowers are still looking lovely.X

  5. always josefa (@always_josefa)

    What a beautiful reflective post. Those images look amazing and flowers always brighten my day – no matter how cliche that sounds. Family should never abide by one definition, but always be fluid, organic and follow the weavings of our hearts- that is what family is – just like this post xx

  6. Twitchy & Scratchy (@TwitchyCorner)

    Oh so lovely to spend happy times with family, however they are comprised. Though I do tend to think of those for whom Mother’s Day is difficult, one thing I’ve never really added to that list are birth mothers of adopted children. It never crossed my mind until now. #teamIBOT

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Yes Twitchy – mother’s day is a bittersweet day for lots of people – I will never forget how hard it felt when we were going through infertility and IVF and the long wait for adoption – at the same time being grateful to have my Mum.

  7. Renee

    Beautiful post, Kathy. I often reflect on how I have become part of and bonded with another family. I also do the same with my husband. Sometimes I look at him and am amazed at how we found each other and how we have built a life together. I’m glad you had a wonderful weekend. You deserve it. Ps. How much fun is quad biking?!

    1. Kathy Kruger

      It is amazing – all these red threads joining us to the people in our lives who are special – stretching and tangling, but never breaking! And quad biking is great – they have such a fantastic property for it.

  8. Eleise

    That damper looks amazing Kathy. I can imagine it is difficult to reflect on mothers day with the idea that although you have your wonderful children, their birth mothers have a loss. I am sure their mothers would be so happy to see their children blossoming. Glad that you had a beautiful day on the property.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Eleise – it was a lovely day, the damper was delicious and made with love and fun. I try to picture my kid’s birth mum’s peering in our lives and hopefully being happy with how beautifully our kids have grown.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      It is a really powerful exhibition and I think those lessons can be more poignant when you put them in the context of precious time with family and what we all mean to each other. Thanks for visiting.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      It is quite a beautiful metaphor and I’m so glad we got to the exhibition – I’m always sacrificing this type of experience for everyday busyness – trying not to anymore.

  9. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen

    Beautiful flowers to celebrate your glorious Mother’s Day, Kathy!
    Sadly, my Chinese family-in-law have never really accepted me as a true part of their family, and we don’t see an awful lot of them. When I fell pregnant with Bell, they realized I was here to stay, and sort of just accepted that yes I was part of the family. As much as they love Bell, she’s still not as close as their two other grandchildren. It has made me sad over the years, but Luckily John and I are happy to have our own little family. x

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I’m sorry to hear that Lisa – it must be really hard for you. We have had our moments with the in-laws, and we have an estrangement that is very close to home that I’ve eluded to before. I think you are right in gaining strength and happiness in your own family unit.

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