I’ve never been able to say “my boys” because I am a mother of girls, but that phrase can still be used for other family members, right? More specifically, my dad and brother. I consider them my guys. My boys.
Years ago (ok, more than a decade if we’re being honest) I got accepted into Newmont’s summer student program where I was fortunate enough to spend 10 hours a day doing hard manual labor tasks like pulling cat tails out of a horrible-smelling waste pond, painting everything in sight “safety yellow” (including the tips of my shoes) and sorting bolts in a 500-degree trailer in the middle of nowhere. But such things build character or something, right? But those stories are better saved for another day.
One of the perks of working there (besides the paychecks that ended up supporting me for the next 6 months while I was in college) was being able to see my dad in action. I’d always known he was a hard worker but it’s a different experience altogether to “know” something and to actually see it. I gained a whole new sort of appreciation for the man he is now and was then; seeing what he does everyday and how hard he works and how respected he is made me see him in a different light than just “dad, the guy who gives us stuff.” It was sort of a Take Your Daughter To Work Day on steroids. I am grateful I got to work with him in that environment and see him do his thing.
I’ve always been grateful for my parents both as a set and as individuals. When I was younger we had the protect/guide/teach-thing going on. As I grew up and pulled away, they became my friends. And now, as I have children of my own, they have morphed into grandparents. Which is bizarre and awesome. It’s funny… when I was a child I didn’t realize what a parent’s love really meant. I left for college with, sure, a couple tears and some anxiety, but it just was. It wasn’t a huge deal to move away or out of my parents’ house. When I got married and my dad walked me down the aisle and gave me away to my husband, I didn’t really pause to think what it was like for him because I didn’t understand. I do now. I get it… And I wish I would have savored those “last” moments a little more. Made more eye contact. Let the hugs last a little longer or squeezed extra hard. I feel like maybe I was a little too flippant or wrapped up in other things. I know they know I appreciate them and love them but you can never get those In The Moment moments back. But I suppose sometimes it takes years and hindsight and understanding-through-life-experiences to make a person appreciate things as they deserve.
My girls love their grandpa! And strangely enough, he’s the only one out of four that has the traditional moniker (we have a yaya, a nanny and a pappy). Fridays are special in my girls’ world because they get to spend the day with grandpa since he is home from work. Jovi pals around with him to hardware stores, gets treated to doughnuts for two meals a day and is doted on. Aven practically trips over herself running to him when he comes through the door in the evenings if we still happen to be at my mom’s during our daily pick-up. Squeals, shrieks, etc. Total enamored girls, they are. It’s hard not to be slightly offended when they go running past me or dive out of my arms to get to him, but you know. I only supported you both for nine+ months in the womb and breastfed you to the detriment of my own anatomy, but whatever. Wait what was I saying?
I am grateful for my dad. For his advice, jokes, friendship, quiet nature and wisdom. And for being such a huge part of my girls’ lives! They have a friend forever in him, that’s for sure.
My brother has grown to be one of my best friends, which is a far cry from our relationship when we were younger. I mean, we got along as well as two people who are 5 years apart do, we just weren’t close. Also, there may or may not have been stabbings going on in our house but the point is that he was able to get past all that without calling the police, so we’re good now. I know if I randomly gave him a bottle of White-Out he’d totally know what I was referring to and I only wish we had more inside jokes like that from our childhood. But I am grateful for the relationship we have now, even thought it took years for it to … mature? No, that’s not right or accurate. *cough*
I am proud of the person he’s become. I think a great gauge of a person’s character is the company they keep. And my brother’s friends are all amazing people who are loyal and constant. And his friends have become my friends — obviously not on the same level, but it speaks highly of their character that they’re willing to be friends with their friend’s older, amazingly attractive sister. What? And they accept my friend’s requests and “like” photos of my kids on facebook so they can’t be all bad, right? I am grateful for them for watching out for my brother and for being there for him in lieu of me and my parents. Because there are just some things you don’t talk to your mom or sister about, right? And thank the good Lord for those boundaries, because yeah.
But Travis is adventurous and witty and talented and intelligent and so unbelievably energetic. I’m like, sit down! Have a cookie! Watch an episode of The Office! Because really — who isn’t interested in watching The Office? I’m not talking about present-day episodes because they’re pretty lame, but circa 2007? OH YES. Someone please do me a favor and buy Travis the entire series on DVD. Or like… relentlessly e-mail him YouTube episodes or something.
I am grateful for my brother and for the friendship we have. It’s nice to have built our relationship beyond the surfacey, “so what about them Cowboys?”-type conversations we used to have years ago. We seek advice from each other, talk via gmail almost daily and make fun of one another. For the record, he provides me with more material than I do him. For proof, please refer to his recent Halloween costume. Right? Yes.
Jovi loves her uncle Travis and asks about him almost daily. She knows he lives in “Weeno” and frequently tries to argue in favor of “going there for dinner” like, everyday. 2 1/2 hours one way means nothing to a 4 year old. And I guess such things shouldn’t when it comes to wanting to spend time with family. Because really, what is 5 hours in the scheme of things?