When I was growing up, my brother, sister, and I not only were lucky to be growing up around our extended family (most of our parents' siblings and both of their sets of parents lived in the Portland metro area), but we also had an extended community through our church. We called our parents' friends by their first names (as it was appropro to do in the 70s!) and my parents would go to their friends' houses to play pinochle late into the evening, and we bedded down with their friends' children, only to be awoken at 3 a.m. to be carted back home. (I loved the evenings hanging out with the kids, but I loathed being woken up out of my deep slumber to go home in the cold evening!) We felt surrounded by loving adults who were always ready with an encouraging word and a hug. We had friends with three daughters close to our ages and who lived in Salem, and our parents often swapped children for the weekend. I realize now how fortunate I was to experience that kind of adult acceptance and support.
Our children are extremely lucky to be surrounded by similar special friends who love and cherish them. They feel loved and supported by their grandparents, aunts and uncles, people at church, friends' parents in our southwest Portland community, extended family, and other friends we have cultivated along the way.
A few months ago when my friend Nancie was in town (the children's fairy godmother, as we call her), she took all three kids to Starbucks one morning. She was the one who came to stay with us the weekend after I came home from the hospital and spent special time with the two older brothers. All three kids adore her, because she makes them feel so special.
Last month Kieran got to spend a very special day with one of his "godfamilies" (our pastor and her family). They took him to McDonald's (a rare treat for one of our kids!) and home with them to make cookies and hang out. As a middle child, Kieran absolutely THRIVES on special attention. He just laps it up. He had a great day.
Last Sunday after church our dear friends Neal and Annette took Nicholas out to Burgerville for lunch--just the three of them. I could tell that he felt very grown up by this prospect! He blithely said "Bye!" as I strapped him into his car seat in their car. He felt safe and secure in Annette and Neal's capable, friendly hands, and he returned home happy with a green balloon.
Wouldn't the world be a different place if every child grew up with that kind of support system? Thanks to all of you who cherish and love our children--we are grateful!