We've left our family far behind. No matter how much we love them, they aren't here to help with daily needs or to share holidays together. Grandparents can't come to school events for the kids and we miss out on family gatherings for birthdays. Of course I want to be there. I'm crying on the inside every time I try to connect to sing Happy Birthday to a niece over Skype.
I've learned that when the family I have always relied on is an ocean away, I grow closer to the family I have with me--my husband and kids. My kids are now moving onto college and they get the joy of joining in on those family things they missed for so many years. I'm happy for them.
My daughter just had a long weekend break from school. She was able to go to her Aunt's house and spend time with the cousins. She played games with them, read to them and probably did a bit of baking with them. She loved it and it gave her energy for the next month of classes. I didn't get to see her on her break but I'm glad there was family at home to step in and fill that gap.
We still need people outside of our family to rely on and to share those special days with. That's what's cool about being a part of the expat community. Your friends begin to fill those gaps that family can't fill right now. You begin to rely on them for more than just a fun lunch out. They are there when you need them in a pinch. They water your plants when you go on vacation. They come over for dinner in their comfy clothes, because we are comfortable with each other and my house is your house. They come over in the middle of the night when you have to run to the hospital, then they visit you while you are there. Even when you are brand new and barely know one another, you step in to help your neighbor in any way possible.
I'm at the beginning of that journey now. We are still the new ones and relationships do take a bit of time. But we are finding our place and how we can be family to the people here. I think of this now, because I have a neighbor working on a project that I have been helping with. We were waiting for some last parts to come in and they did. "Whenever you have time" is what she said, but what I saw in her eyes was that it would be one of those little things that would just help me with this lifestyle if we could get it done sooner rather than later. Because I heard the need, I really want to meet that need. Even though it won't take long to finish the project, I'm going to do it tomorrow night. What that means is, for one night, my Taipei family comes before my blog challenge. Knowing me, I'll probably bring my computer to work tomorrow and write the blog at lunch. But if I don't, and I miss a day, you know that it's because I have a family here that I need to take care of.