Friday, April 4, 2008

Favorite Moment

We are not moving to New York.

The Mister returned last night from a week long business trip to New York City. What could have been a long, arduous week for me was almost enjoyable. On the same day the Mister left for New York, I packed a small bag for the boys and headed over to my parents. The boys flourished like little weeds under the constant onslaught of adoration and cookies, while I enjoyed conversations with real, live adults.

The Mister and I went back and forth regarding the idea of moving across country. The money was tempting, as was the idea of living in a big city. Thrilling, actually. We were able to tweak the numbers to make the move work, and I even found reasonable apartments all throughout the city. There was just one wrinkle we couldn't iron smooth: family.

Sticks and Stones

The move to New York didn't have us worried. That we were actually looking forward to with bated breath. It was the move after New York that gave us pause. After that six month training period, the United States lay before us like an open blanket. We had no idea where they would place the Mister, and if it happened to be in a rural state without a major metropolitan center, the Mister would have to cover that state and portions of neighboring states. All in all, he would be traveling 10-15 days a month. The money was tempting, but not enough to be away from home 50% of the time.

There is also our extended family. Growing up, it was just me, my brothers, and my parents. We didn't have any extended family living in the United States. No grandparents, cousins, aunts or uncles. The Mister also grew up away from family, although not to my drastic extent. He at least saw them a couple of times a year and sometimes on holidays. Me? Never. I've never experienced the indulgent love of grandparents, or at least not more than 5 times in my life. My first cousin wasn't born until I was well into my late teens, so no experience there, either.

I want Mikey and Nico to know their family. Brie from Keeks and Brie once said she would give anything to spend one more day with her deceased grandmother. I want my boys to feel that way about their grandparents, too. I want them to grow up playing with their cousins and to return to school after holidays exhausted from visiting family.

I was on my way to my parents' house to pick up Mikey when the Mister first told me about the possibility of moving to New York. Mikey and my mom were spending the day together so I could deep clean the house without interruption. When I got there, Mikey was sound asleep in a chair and on the counter was this:

The Rock

Mikey and my mom had decided to take two hour a walk along the canal that waters the orange groves near my parents' house. Into the canal Mikey tossed twigs, pebbles, and leaves. He was having the time of his life, but when it came time to toss into the water the biggest rock in the pile, my mom suggested he keep it instead. He did, and she commemorated the rock with details of their walk. My eyes welled up with tears when I saw it. In NYC no one would write on rocks for Mikey.

While the Mister was gone Mikey and my mom continued to take walks. Each day Mikey would pick up a stick or twig he found interesting and drag it behind him on the long walk home. By the end of the week, he had a tidy bundle to show the Mister.

Bundle of Sticks

I couldn't help but notice the symbolism in Mikey's rock and bundle of sticks. Like a rock, family has become my foundation. They are solid, dependable, and likely to withstand all sorts of storms and the test of time. Sure, my family is crazy. But probably no more crazy than yours. Does anyone have a sane family? Certainly no one I have met. I like that I can call my mom at the last minute to babysit. She claims to hate it and vows one day to refuse, but so far it hasn't happened. Her bark has always been worse than her bite.

Mikey's sticks were thin and fragile and often broke after a few sword fights with imaginary foes. My mom and I kept telling him that they are stronger bundled together than they are separate. And, really, families are a lot like Mikey's bundle of sticks. Stronger united than they are divided. Aesop said it best. Union gives strength.

So we aren't moving to New York. We aren't going to make money hand over fist and I won't shop Park Avenue or tour Mikey and Nico around world famous parks and museums. But, I will call my mom at the last minute to babysit the boys because I have a hair appointment I forgot to put down on my calendar. Mikey and Nico will take walks and toss twigs and pebbles into the same canal my brothers and I did when we were children. And, when they think I'm not looking, they'll eat way too many cookies with family they see regularly.