Call me sentimental, but I am really enjoying the feel-good vibe of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges at the moment! For me, the day our son met his Uncle (my brother) and Aunty for the first time is a very personal embodiment of the ‘one love‘ theme this week.
Here is my Muslim English brother, who lives in Qatar, with his Libyan wife. They are gazing adoringly at my baby son, who is English and lives in South East Asia. At the time these photos were taken, Dania was also very heavily pregnant, so my son and his cousin-to-be were separated only by a bump.
Love and life in our modern world is colourful, and complex, and complicated. Family life is no exception. In our family we are collectively blending different cultures, religions and values all the time, whilst we carry on our daily lives, scattered across the globe. It isn’t always easy; in fact sometimes it has been incredibly fraught. But you do what you have to do to keep the love flowing. Because in the end, family is everything.
About three weeks after this photo was taken, my son and daughter gained a beautiful healthy baby boy cousin. But by that time we had already returned to Brunei, so sadly missed the opportunity to meet him.
Our expat existence brings enormous benefits for us as a family. But the cost – and it is a significant one – is that we don’t get to see the people we love as much as we would like. I don’t think our situation is particularly unusual – it is a hard reality that in our global society, families are very often fragmented. Will my children ever meet their cousin? I really hope so, but I honestly don’t know. They live in the Middle East, we live in South East Asia right now, but will soon live in South America. We all return to England intermittently, but not always at the same time. It is complicated.
Despite the complications, instilling my children with a sense of their familial bonds is vital to me. We FaceTime, we have their photos all over the house, we talk constantly about them. And of course when we can, we make the absolute most of opportunities to be with them. Watching our little girl hugging and kissing the iPad when she is chatting across the miles with her grandparents, we know that for her, for now, it is enough. The love she feels for, and from, her family is absolute. The distance isn’t there. We will make sure that our son feels the same way, as he grows. That is the best we can do.