When I started having kids, in a city and country far from my family and place of birth it became clear to me that I needed to create my own family, wherever I was living. My mother pointed out to me that if I was in London, my kids would be being looked after by different people too, it’s just that those people would probably be family and very old friends. So, as I have lived in the USA for 13 1/2 years, I have cultivated friendships in both the cities I’ve lived in and created my own families.
About 8 years ago, when I re-entered the workforce after a 2 1/2 year hiatus, I started hiring Au Pairs – students who come from another country and live in your home, look after your kids and take classes at the local college. Sometimes you find an Au Pair that you connect with above and beyond the shared love of my children. My Au Pair Mirian, who came to us in 2012, when my kids were 2, 6 & 8 had a background in special needs and was from a loving family in Brazil.
I soon realized that she and I had a connection beyond just my children. We would hang out together when she wasn’t working and we started joking that she was my wife – helping with my kids and their care, and the kitchen and food! Her family spent Christmas with us that year in the US. The next year, my family spent Christmas with her in Brazil. Miri’s mother sent my three kids home-made quilts for their beds. We sent packages of artwork and American candy. Facebook increased our communication and awareness of each other’s lives.We stayed in touch and when our daughter was christened, Miri joined our family in a more formal way as my daughter’s Godmother!
So, when Miri told us she was getting married in Brazil in November, I really wanted to come. But, there seemed to be too many obstacles: too expensive because I am going through a contentious divorce and paying thousands in lawyers fees and I was also worried about taking the kids out of school for three days.
Then it occurred to me, that I had charged my lawyer’s fees to my airline visa credit card. Hah – air miles! I called United and discovered that I had enough air miles for four flights to Brazil! So, here it is, the silver lining: although the divorce is costing me both financially and emotionally, it has allowed me to fly to Brazil on airmiles!!
Now, I am here in Brazil, with my three amazing traveler kids, getting ready to celebrate the wedding of my beloved friend. It’s summer here in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s hot and raining, and there is an energy of love and celebration as we chat, drink delicious coffee and toast laden with butter, listen to the family dogs snuggle and bark, and gather the ingredients to make rice & steak & feijoada for supper, and slice the limes for caipirinha. We are tired from our 10 1/2 hr flight, but so happy to be surrounded by love.
Sometimes we meet people who we are not related to, but who become our family. Perhaps we were family in a past life and we innately recognize that connection in this lifetime. Perhaps we have a shared perspective on life. Who knows? But, what I can tell you is this: cherish these people, find ways to join them in their celebrations and big moments and enjoy these created families.
Copyright Tamsin Astor, YogaBrained LLC, 2015.