Family Friendships & Destiny: Is that how it works?

Family Friendships & Destiny: Is that how it works?

I have been thinking a lot lately how some families gravitate towards one another.  Over the twenty some odd years’ we have been parents, I have noticed how both families and their children gravitate towards each other, especially when it is not forced.

My husband and I have friends that are primarily couples, married about the same length of time – some slightly less than our soon to be thirty years and some slightly more. They all have children, again some slightly older or younger than ours. These are the couples we socialize with, attending graduations, family gatherings, birthday celebrations, and extra curricular events the children find themselves involved in, such as theater, band concerts, or sports. Truly, it is a great group, one in which most of us “click” and conversation is easy.  I never feel like I have to “work” at our gatherings, which is a true blessing. We feel accepted for who we are, just as we accept the other group members for themselves, as well.

The group dynamics have never been forced, it just “happens”.  From experience, I know if the interactions were forced, we would not have continued to attend group functions.  So, how does this happen? I started to wonder. Is it an unspoken sense of shared values and beliefs that connect us?  Is it similar personalities or child-rearing philosophies?  Or, is it the differences that draw us towards one another?  Some of us have families near and some, further away.  Maybe we gain a sense of family by being with our friends.  I would like to think so.

The reason I started thinking about this is that our youngest son is an athlete. Actually, he has many of great skills in many areas.  However, athleticism, and truly loving the sports he plays, is somewhat of a novelty for our family.  This year he met a student through track who has a brother that was friends with our oldest son. He really gets along with this fellow student athlete, just as our oldest son really got along this athlete’s oldest brother. The older brothers met through band, theater and shared classes, not sports.  I guess the platform does not matter.  We find ourselves getting to know this family all over again because now, our two youngest boys are playing competitive soccer with each other! They even play similar roles on the team – defensive backs. Instead of seeing this family at band concerts and theater productions, we are seeing them at soccer games! This developing friendship is what started me thinking.

There are other examples. Our middle son has a great friend whose siblings are much older. The two boys spend a great deal of time together. Again, friendship has extended to this family to the point where I walk with the boy’s mother once a week for exercise. We have also shared some meals together or gotten together for conversation around the fire pit. We look forward to seeing them at the boys tennis matches and school events. If we did not have sons of similar age, I doubt we would get together with this family. So, is that it? Our children help us to gravitate towards other families through common interest and age? Maybe. I do not think that was true when we grew up.

In addition our oldest son has found families similar to these through his college roommates over the last four years. He has been included at family gatherings and we have included their sons at ours.

So, what are the attracting factors? Similarity? Common belief’s? Common values? Convenience? Having children the same age? Or, something more? Could it be possible it is something we have no control over, like destiny?  I will probably never know, and will definitely keep pondering over how it all works.  But, however it comes about, it feels good to know we can share in the lives of some wonderful families in our community – and have them be counted as wonderful friends.

 

Time for Some Summer Fun!

Time for Some Summer Fun!

It’s summer and I am ready for some fun. May was an incredibly busy month, as it usually is. School got out the first weekend of June. Usually, the release of our students means the beginning of summer, complete with a relaxation of schedules, sleeping in, and lazy days. This year has been anything but those activities.

In two short weeks, the SAT was taken, Badger Boys State Camp was attended, the Tennis Banquet was held, and summer employment started. This is just for one of my adolescents.  My youngest started an online class that requires at least 2 hours a day of work, and the summer travel soccer season is in full swing. This constitutes driving to the Twin Cities for “away” games; a drive of no less than two and a half hours one way. The soccer game is an hour and a half and home we go – another two and a half hours. Last Tuesday, we rode a “bus” with the team and still got home at 12:30 a.m.. A soccer game took eight an a half hours of our day! Too much!

In the midst of this, I am taking a three credit graduate course (700 level), on interpretive  environmental/heritage signage. My learning curve for the course has been steep as I am not writing essays (which is a strength) but rather using software to design wayside panels and brochures! It is the first course I have had in graduate school that has a laboratory component! Needless to say, it has kept me on my toes!

This busy-ness is in addition to a huge home improvement project. We are re-siding our house! Gone is the vinyl siding reflecting the previous owners’ taste. Welcome to our new facade, a rich chocolate-brown engineered wood siding with shake shingle accents in a cedar (Canyon is the official color) brown.  It is coming along and our home of ten years is finally reflecting our personalities, not those we assumed when we moved in to the property. Our youngest has taken to removing the old siding when he needs a “break” from his online course. He is also learning to drive!

Since the siding job is so huge, and my husband is the person doing the “job”. I am trying to help. Revamping my garden beds around the house has become “my job”. One is done, the perennial bed by the garage that holds my beloved common milkweed. The bed got cleaned, new gladioli and dahlias planted, and mulch refreshed. Last night I found a monarch caterpillar on a leaf and you’d think I had found a piece of gold! To me, it was!

I moved on to the front bed where everything was ripped out and fresh soil was delivered – being shoveled into the space by both of my teens that are still at home.  I enjoyed looking for the red-twig dogwood that will be a specimen plant, opposite to my limelight hydrangea.  Three  weigelas were purchased for the front of the bed and the rest is undetermined.

We’ve gone through about 30 bags of mulch and will need more! The grass always seems to need cutting, and in an effort to help, I have jumped on our tractor several times to just “get it done”.

As you can tell, we have been extra busy this June. But, it’s summer! I am really feeling the need to do something fun! So, today we will take a break as we will go to some of our favorite places in the Twin Cities – prior to another “away” soccer game tonight. It will be another long day, but hopefully, a day of fun! I think we all need it.

Hospitality

Hospitality

via Daily Prompt: Hospitality

What a great day to write about hospitality! It is also Mother’s Day! Today, instead of gathering with family, we are going to a friend’s house for a college graduation celebration. It will be attended by mostly the graduate’s family members. Therefore, we are pleased to be included.  Our family celebration of Mother’s Day and other similarly oriented holidays have changed over the last twenty years, since we’ve lived in the mid-west.  Family gatherings of our own, previously attended by both my parents and in-laws, as well as our siblings is a thing of the past. Frankly, our holiday celebrations have become blunted. It is the partially the result of a husband who works holidays and various shifts due to being a health care system employee and not having family close enough to visit on the holiday – no matter what the holiday might be.  It is our fault, as much as anyone else’s, that our celebrations have become mostly private,  We all share the blame for not extending the invitation, not traveling, and not hosting.

Hospitality is something that grows when practiced. My friend is a gracious host. You always feel welcome and wanted at their home. Today will be no different. My friend has had many opportunities to practice her hospitality.  Her daughter, who we celebrate today, has spent time earning a theater degree at a local university. We’ve been pleased to attend and be entertained by her wonderful portrayal of many characters. Her mom, my friend, has gathered family and close friends for a meal prior to these performances. As I said, we’ve attended many.  It has been enjoyable to be in such hospitable and gracious company.

I remember the days of yesterday when my husband and I were hosts to family gatherings.  Both sides gathered for holiday celebrations like Christmas Eve and family picnics at our home.  I would like to think we were good hosts. Now, due to lack of practice, we probably need a little work.  My hope, on this Mother’s Day, is that my boys – now approaching young adulthood, will always know they are welcome to come home to celebrate any holiday or any day, for that matter!  I hope they will allow me the chance to practice the skill of hospitality and become good at it once again.

Inspired by: Daily Post: Hospitality