When people tell me that we are sooo lucky that we get to travel to Norway and Europe as often as we do, I am inclined to agree. Norway is such a beautiful place, filled with some of the loveliest people I know, and getting to visit other places in Europe at the same time is like living at the pointiest peak of lucky. But try to tell me that I am spoiled because we get to visit Norway as often as we do, and I will put my foot down most firmly. Spoiled people do not live 4758 miles from their mum. Spoiled people do not primarily talk to their granny via FaceTime. Oh, what we wouldn't give to have family around the corner like so many people do!
|One last snuggle before we had to go home.|
So, when we go to Norway, we go to soak up as much time with my Mummy and the kids' Granny as we possibly can.
|Gwen and her Granny at the beach.|
I'm not sure if it's quite possible to put into words just how much these kids adore their Granny. She plays with them. She reads stories. She lets them rampage through her house and garden more or less at will. She loads up on art supplies and brings out all the old toys in anticipation of their arrival. She knits clothes for the kids. Because her time with the kids (and us!) is limited, she puts everything she can on hold while we are there, and just gives all of her time and attention to us. If I'm making her sound like an absolute dream of a grandmother, it's because she really is. She even made jam with berries from her own garden, for goodness sakes!
|Nothing like a snuggly bedtime story with Granny.|
I have to say it's a bit different from my own upbringing! Not that my mum wasn't a loving and giving mother who would do anything for her family, because that is exactly what she was. But she was on the front lines of parenting then, up to her elbows in the nuts and bolts of the everyday life of keeping our family afloat, always busy, always working. When I wanted to find my mum when I was a kid, I would look in the kitchen first, and the laundry room second, which says something, don't you think?
|A day out.|
My mum still works hard. She and a coworker bought the bookstore she had been managing, and now run it together. She goes to the gym. She maintains her home and garden all by herself. But since the grandkids came along, I've noticed an ability to set things aside and focus on the here and now that feels new to me. Norwegians say that grandchildren are the dessert of life, and I feel like my mum is able to love and enjoy our two little crazies in a way that makes my heart so happy.
|Uncle Jeremy and Espen.|
Of course, as much as we love my mum, she's not the only person in Norway that we love. My grandmother is there, I have aunts and uncles and cousins and friends aplenty. And my one and only brother lives there too. We were lucky enough that we got to see quite a lot of him while we were there, although it's never quite enough time when it's family, is it? Espen loves his uncle, and thinks he is just the cat's pajamas. When uncle Jeremy had time to play with him, his whole little face just glowed. He was so happy in the picture above, trotting along with his uncle, chattering away a mile a minute. And it's hard to say who was more delighted by the other, Gwen or Jeremy. I can't even really express what it means to me to see these relationships form and develop between my family and my own children. It transforms the whole idea of family into something that extends deeper and further than what I understood it to be before becoming a parent myself. Does that make sense?
|Me and my Mummy on my birthday.|
Three weeks with my family, and with my mum especially, was wonderful. If I can get a little more flowery, I'd like to say that it centers me, it grounds me, and it fills my reservoirs in a way that I absolutely need every so often, especially when I live so far away from home. It's so important to spend time with people who know and love you for you, who remember where you come from, and will be with wherever you go next. It's so important to spend time with family.