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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
Cheers and big, big thanks!