I think one of the sweetest parts of being in a family are all of the little things that belong only to you. You know, the things that you remember when you grow up, being specific to your mom or dad. For some reason when I was little I always used to pick up on the things other families said and did and some of them stuck with me. For example, the mother of the family I babysat for all throughout jr high and high school always told her girls, “I love you so” and it just melted me. Adding one little word to the end of a phrase that everyone uses made it seem so much more personal and powerful. I still follow along with her and her girls on Facebook and every once in while I’ll smile when that little sentence pops up on my screen. And I won’t lie. I have been telling my kids that I love them so for 8 years now :)
Ice cream dreams are a thing I’ve passed on from my childhood. I used to have nightmares a lot when I was little so when I’d wake up in the middle of the night, scared and crying, my mom would come into my room and list off all of the good things I should think about to help me get back to sleep. She would say, “Just think of good things like ice cream cones and you won’t be afraid anymore.” Our kids don’t often have nightmares but every night as I leave their room I always say, “Have sweet ice cream dreams.” I realized that this was definitely one of our things one night when I didn’t say it and Theo got out of bed to remind me that I forgot to wish them the ice cream dreams. Isn’t it incredible how strong the connection you can make by doing something so small?
It’s not just words, things can be anything really. When Josh and I were in high school, before we were comfortable saying I love you, we would do this hand thing where one of us squeezed the other’s hand 3 times. A sort of morse code I guess. Even after we said the words to each other we continued to do the hand thing anytime we were in a group setting and didn’t want to say it out loud. Cheesy, yes, but sometimes that’s what makes the best kind of thing. Of course we don’t do it much now but every once in a while those three squeezes still mean something. I’ve also let the boys in on the secret code although I don’t get many opportunities to use it with them anymore.
Josh and I also call each other buddy. I don’t remember where it came from but for as long as I can remember it’s been our term of endearment for each other. He’s even listed under “Buddy” in my phone. We’re not big into lovey names. Sweetheart is my way of saying asshole, honey was my dog’s name and I’ve never once called a grown person babe so I guess buddy was created out of necessity :) Regardless, I love it because it’s so personal.
All of these things, whether stolen from someone else, passed on or created by us, make up a kind of club. They’re part of our binding. A legacy specific to the 5 of us. That’s why it’s so important to me.
Family can be so tricky but has been especially for us, because of circumstances and our lifestyle. For us, things haven’t had the chance to occur naturally outside of our circle of 5 because we’ve never been consistently surrounded by our loved ones. It has been easy for relationships to stunt when they should have been growing. When I was little my grandma lived 10 minutes from me which meant we were given the chance for things all of the time but mostly because she never missed an opportunity to make memories with us. Our thing was taking drives on roller coaster road every Friday night. I think of her every time an unexpected hill “gets my belly” and when our kids, whom have spent the majority of their lives in flat NJ and TX, cackle with laughter over “the roller coaster road” (what they’ve designated the hills of Ohio without any help from me). While it makes me sad that our kids have missed out on creating those things with other loved ones, I am more sad for the other loved ones who have missed the opportunity to create those legacies for themselves. But hopefully moving home will open up more chances for growth and things :)