Monday 29 October 2012

Put your Hands Up For Detroit

*** I started to write this post way back in August when it happened. But then PPD hit (read about that here if you'd like) and I couldn't get the energy together to write about what was a truly wonderful weekend while feeling so sad. So, now that things are getting back to normal, I thought I would finally tell you all about the weekend we spent in Michigan with Andy's family. Let's just pretend it's the end of August again OK?***

We are waiting at the Windsor airport when cousin Tony pulls up in his minivan. He works near the Detroit-Windsor border and he has come to collect us for the family reunion. The hellos are slightly awkward. Hi, yes, I'm the girl who used your cousin's sperm to get pregnant. This is my wife. And that is your cousin's son. Nice to meet you. But that didn't last long. He has three sons and parents can always find mutual ground for conversation. Mac starts to fuss and Tony pulls out a drop down DVD player and sings along with the show. He knows the words by heart.

Before long we arrive at the reunion. As we walk in I hear Andy giving his family direction. He takes a while to warm up. Your best chance is to play hard to get. He proves himself right as we enter and Mac clings to me, his hand clenching my shirt like a life raft. Andy does the introductions, cousins, aunts, uncles, children, and his boyfriend. I give one-handed hugs while Mac buries his face in my shoulder.

Suddenly there is a loud crash. Adults move towards the top of stairs and peer down. There's no crying. They shrug it off. You should go downstairs and see what you are in for. Andy laughs as he says this. We've been warned that there are a lot of boys in this family. Three brothers had seven sons. I venture into the basement, Mac still clinging on for dear life, and enter into a world of boys like I have never seen. If there is a piece of sporting equipment made it is probably in this basement. There is a giant chalkboard outlining the most recent tournament they are conducting. I am not entirely sure if it is based on an actual sport or a video game. They all talk about it like it is the Super Bowl.

One boy chases another. Two more join in. A football flies through the air. And then there is a large pile. All legs and arms and sweaty t-shirts. Mac is mesmerized. He watches eagerly. Two of the group look up and notice our intrusion on their game. They make their way over to meet Mac. Or Ma-ah-ck as they say in Michigan. Ma-ah-ck can hardly believe his luck when they settle in for a quick game of peek-a-boo. But a moment later the game is back on and Ma-ah-ck can't compete with the lure of a group tackle.

I've been discouraging Ma-ah-ck from walking in the hope that he will take his first steps in front of his dad. He does and I figure that if nothing else happens the weekend is a success.

It's a bit strange to be meeting this new side of our son's family (and by extension our family). It reminds me of going home to meet a new boyfriend or girlfriend's family. Except that we've already made a baby and my wife and I are there together. I imagine that it's strange for them too. These Michigan cousins with their far more traditional family structures. But if it is weird nobody lets on. They welcome us in like long lost relatives and soon we are privy to the inside jokes and legendary family stories. I do my best to memorize them so that I can retell them to Mac before his next visit. Let's go to Konka! He will yell as he walks in the door - already familiar with family tales.

Mac continues to cling to me as the weekend passes and I start to worry that he won't get enough quality time in with his Dad.

So when nap time nears Tracy and I strap Mac into the Onya Baby Carrier on his Dad's chest and quickly get out of his line of sight. Our plan works and Andy gets some quality cuddle time with his son.

By Sunday Mac is finally starting to warm up to everyone. Right in time for us to cross the border and head back to Canada. We say our good-byes with many hugs, knowing that we will be back soon.

On the plane ride home Tracy and I discuss how strange and wonderful our family has become with it's multi-sided design. In some ways it's a family structure that exists way outside the box. But, in other ways, it's exactly like every other family on the block.

Families are formed in a myriad of ways. Whether by shared lineage, choice, or love, groups of people come together defining their inclusion. Boundaries shift and bend but the line remains drawn. This is us in here. Our group. Our family. For better or worse.

Andy's family has become our family via all three of those criteria. They share a lineage with Mac by virtue of Andy's DNA. We came together by choice when we chose Andy to be our son's father. And love - well there's a whole lot of that to go around.

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