I had a conversation with a friend the other day. She moved to her hometown a few years ago to spend more time with her family. Now, her two siblings are also moving back to their hometown. When I heard this, “How wonderful!” I said. She looked at me with a dry smile. “Yea,” she said. “It has amazing sides, as well as horrible ones.” That’s the thing with family, isn’t it? The highs are really high, the lows are really low.

The key to relationships is to find the right distance, and over the past 32 years, I’ve experienced many different distances when it comes to family. There were times I lived at home and loved it, there were times when my body was home but my heart and mind were far. There were times I had a 12-hour flight between me and them, there were times the flight home took 3. The distance I found this year was one I had never experienced before: a 15 min drive away.

This distance is my favorite so far. One of my greatest joys in the second half of this year was the Friday afternoons with my mom and aunt, going on hikes with my in laws, or spontaneously stopping by at Mami and Papi's for a quick hello. I had this sense that I was in my own little world, and my family was right there, accessible whenever I wanted. For the past four years, I had gotten used to doing everything on my own or with my partner. It was amazing to come back home to South of France after two months, being picked up, driven home, and given a basket of food - a dinner cooked by Mami because she knew we would have nothing to eat. It was so nice when my mom made yogurt and I could take it home, or when she helped arrange the painters before we moved in. I had family members around me who wanted to take care of us, pitch in, and help out.

My family is less than perfect, and that’s great. I still have a lot to mend, and that’s great too. I think I finally learned this year that no family is perfect. I suffer a lot when it comes to family, and so do most other people. We practice enjoying the moment, even in those not-so-straightforward family relationships. This year, I appreciated being able to stay in these imperfect relationships, love and mend as best as I can in the daily or weekly rhythm of small, unimportant things, rather than a week spent together after 4-6 months apart. Those small, unimportant things are the fundamentals of life. I also know that like all other things, this distance too is temporary. Who knows where I will find myself in a few years.

Linens from my grandmother - they were put aside for me years ago, kept for me since then by my mom. It was lovely to rediscover them and have her memory with me. 

For Your Reflections

  1. Family is a fluid concept. Who is family for you?
  2. What is the perfect distance for you between you and your family?
  3. How do you enjoy the moment in not-so-straightforward family relationships?

Continue reading this series: Burnout

Go back to the beginning: Fundamentals