I don't have a big family. Of course, as a child I took family for granted like most of us do. Even though we lived about 2-3 hours from the next relation, my parents dutifully packed us up in the car and made sure we attended all holidays and family events for the grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins.
I never realized what a small family I had until my mom died, and how hard it is to maintain an active part in the world of the extended family. My mom literally was the glue that kept it all together. She remembered all the birthdays, anniversaries, and was sure to send cards. She made regular phone calls. She was the Wonder Woman of activity.
Me? Not so much.
What energy I have left after full time work and parenting is reserved mostly for my dad. I talk to him a few times a week on the phone, this is made easy by the fact that he is trying to get off the phone as soon as he says hello. It was always like this. When I would call my parents I would talk to mom for half an hour and dad would come on for two minutes at the end and basically just ascertain that I was ok and then we would hang up. Now all I get are those 2 minutes.
We see him basically every 4-6 weeks and I try to organize those visits around something that might sort of entertain both him and the kids, it is not an easy line to draw.
My brother is active on FB so we mostly keep up that way with the occasional (every 2 months or so) phone call. He is doing better but was in such a bad place for so long that I still have some residual panic after getting off calls with him.
Then there is B's sister and parents. I try to keep up with B's sister and am sure to remember to send the gifts and cards to his parents but I wish B would take on more of a roll but sometimes I wonder if boys really know how? That sounds terribly sexist of course but even when I asked my brother the other night if he had talked to our dad recently, he said it had been over a month. This is significant because my mom really trained us to call home every week. If we didn't, there was hell to pay, like she would call us at 6am in our college dorm rooms (back in the days before voice mail and silent ringers).
Now I have to represent my family. I try, albeit not hard enough. I suck at phone calls. I can't get myself to make a call even when I know I should. I try to keep up with FB and some emails, but sometimes that is just not enough.
My cousin, the one who bought a house recently, is getting married. I held her as a baby and watched her grow up. When she was a kid in MA and I was an adult in CA, I flew out to attend her Bar Mitzvah. I searched for good air fare rates so she, her mom, and sister could attend my wedding in CA. I paid for their hotel room while they were out. I sent cash gifts for her high school and college graduations.
She is getting married in May and I recently discovered that we aren't invited. Why? Unclear, space I guess. They want to cap it at 120 guests and we didn't make the cut.
I am having a really hard time not being upset at this. I know I haven't been the type to call a lot but I can't help feeling gypped out of a happy family event when it has just been a sea of funerals the past few years. She lives an hour away. I feel like I can't say anything to her about it. She is the bride, so I really want a guilt trip induced invitation?
I don't have a lot of family. My kids don't have cousins. Their aunt and uncle aren't really involved in their lives. They had one grandparent who is functional (my dad). My aunt and uncle who are the most active in their lives live in Vegas and we see them maybe once a year.
Sometimes I wonder about various pieces of advice I will give them when they are older. I think up there will be "try to marry someone with a large family."