Home > Family, Health, Love > Growing our family tree

Growing our family tree

Early in my first pregnancy, my now-husband took me to a Belmont Shore diner and pounded coffee as he told me at length about his family tree. He told me about his mom’s efforts to trace their genealogy, including the difficulties in doing so before the 1865 because of–among other things–how many slaves’ genealogical records were destroyed in Sherman’s March, and how she’d rejoiced his college choice: “From slavery to Yale in four generations!”

After some time, he noticed I wasn’t saying much and paused. “I’m boring you to tears, aren’t I?”

I shook my head. “That’s not it. Actually, I was just thinking how awesome it is that our child is going to grow up feeling connected to history. For my siblings and me, there were effectively two generations: ours and Mom’s. I grew up wishing I had grandparents and great grandparents who could tell me stories about our history, but I didn’t. I think it’s pretty neat that this kid is going to know a bunch of generations, not just from names on a piece of paper but pieces of the people those names belonged to, too.”

Mama's generations

Mommy’s generations, then and now

I thought about this yesterday as I drove toward a prenatal appointment for child number two.  I’d previously gone to a clinic nearer my office, but dismayed at being just a number in line at what felt like the very slow-moving fast food of health care. My husband told me I’d fare better at the one nearest our home, but I didn’t believe him until we had to go there for an urgent care trip recently. I’d been going to Mordor; here, just 20 minutes from our house, was the Shire. I was intent on switching promptly.

The only problem was our son, Li’l D. Since kids aren’t allowed at prenatal appointments and the preschool to new clinic distance is slowly traveled, I was stuck. For a moment. You see, Li’l D’s grandmas live near the clinic. Grandma has to go to work in the morning, but Great Grandma does not. And Great Grandma, as you can imagine, is a great fan of her great grandson.

The way my son lights up when he sees we’re en route to his grandmas’ house also lights up my heart. I saw it again before my appointment early yesterday morning and rejoiced, as I always do.

The best thing about changing clinics is not avoiding medical Mordor, but the extra grandma time my son gets as a result. He doesn’t remember my mom, though I celebrated their being able to meet, but his memories of childhood will include many reflecting the active, loving involvement of his paternal grandmas.

I grew up feeling, with rare exception, that “family history” went only as far as my mom’s personal memories. I exult in the fact it means something very different to my son, and to know that his little brother or sister will also know this love not only as history but present.

Papa's generations

Daddy’s generations

  1. December 17, 2013 at 4:04 pm | #1

    That is indeed a blessing in any child’s life…to have that feeling of connection with their extended family.

    My niece got married last summer and, even though we have lived 3 states away their whole lives, she had both my daughters as attendants. My cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews came from far and wide. I am proud of this testament to our families’ determination that we try to really connect through the generations.

    Hope you’re feeling fine, Deb!

  2. December 17, 2013 at 6:08 pm | #2

    How wonderful for your children that they get an extended family!

  3. December 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm | #3

    I loved this. On both sides of my parents families, nobody was willing to talk about the “old country”. So we know nothing. And they were alive. My explanation is that I come from a long line of axe murderers.

  4. December 17, 2013 at 7:20 pm | #4

    Growing up, there were my parents and my (half) brothers. Or so we were told.
    As it happens the truth was not in them, and there was and is more family, half a world away. On my mother’s side at least. My father was a German Jew, and there is no family left. No history, no stories.
    And now, as the years have gone by, our family is getting bigger and bigger. I was never a good aunt (to my shame) and now I am a great-aunt. Which is simultaenously weird, and lovely.

  5. December 18, 2013 at 6:15 am | #5

    You are a blessing in your ability to reach beyond yourself and see the connections. Your children have this rarest of blessings, to have parents who lovingly share their history and their now with abundance.

    Sometimes, I think you don’t know how fortunate your child(ren) are in you.

  6. December 18, 2013 at 11:42 am | #6

    Roots are a beautiful thing to give your children. They help them.grow big and strong.

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