My Life, Hallmark Movies and Unexpected Bonuses

I’m a romantic at heart. It’s why I’m such a fan of cheesy Hallmark movies. You can guess, at the beginning, exactly how they will end. You know there will always be a silly mix up or misunderstanding that will have to get resolved. There will always be interrupted, almost kisses. Many of the plots are similar. Someone always seems to be having to make a decision about accepting a job offer that will mean relocating away from or to a small town. But, what I really love about them is the settings and relationships. The adorable small towns over-saturated in Christmas decorations where everyone knows and loves everyone. Where communities pull together to support each other and help each other. Where family is the most important thing. Where moms are thrilled to have their sons meet the sweet girl who will become the daughter she always wanted. Grandmas are always delightful and the most involved grandmas on the planet, the granny that anyone would want to have. Moms and Dads are always there to receive their adult children home for the holidays with unconditional love, family traditions and holiday cheer. They are always eager to welcome the love interest into the family as a valued member. Yes, I just love the homey, small town details and the dreamy, close-knit relationships!

I guess I live vicariously through those relational stories. Don’t get me wrong, I come from a large and incredible family. My parents love me with unconditional love and have welcomed each of their children’s spouses into the family as their own. Growing up, the holidays were big family celebrations with all the trimmings. What has always been missing for me was the grandparent connections and then the feeling of being welcomed into a family who loved me when I got married. My grandparents always lived in another state and so unfortunately I was never very close to them. My family didn’t travel to visit extended family for the holidays when I was young. I have six siblings, so growing up it was the nine of us and that was a large gathering by most standards. Then as we each started getting married and having kids of our own, we just kept expanding and the holiday gatherings became worthy of a Hallmark movie scene of their own.

Relationships are important to me. Feeling loved and accepted by others matters. It bothers me deeply when people don’t like me. So when I got married I wanted the Hallmark story. I wanted to gain a “second” mom, who would appreciate me and love me like her own daughter. That did not happen in my story. No matter how hard I’ve tried to win her over all my attempts have fallen short. So my own personal life experiences didn’t have all the Hallmark movie moments and relationships I would have liked but that has led to two realizations of the person I aspire to become: a fun grandma who is involved with and close to my grandchildren and a mother-in-law whose “added” children feel loved and valued as part of my family.

Presently, three of my seven children are married. So I am blessed with two added daughters and one added son. I love them all. They are each incredible matches for my children. They have enhanced our family in wonderfully unique ways and they are cherished members of our growing family. I want them to feel like they’ve added a mom who loves them and values them for not just what they add to my child’s life but for all the joy they bring to mine and to our family. I am also presently blessed with six wonderful grandchildren. Oh what fun they are! I love them all so much!

As a mom, you realize as your children grow up, that the relationships you have with your daughters is usually very different from those you have with your sons. In general, boys and girls are just different. Girls tend to be more relational, and boys, well they just don’t. Most men when they get married, their moms just aren’t foremost in their practical, get it done, day to day thoughts. They have a wife and a family and a job and that takes most of their energy. Moms are lucky to get a phone call here and there from their sons and often it’s because their wife reminds them, “call your mom, it’s her birthday.”

Daughters are different, by nature they tend to stay closer to their moms, leaning on them for advice and friendship and support. I am close to both my daughters and make effort to be close to both my added daughters. I love them all and cherish things like conversations with them, opportunities to spend time with them, sharing holiday traditions, giving advice when it’s asked for and generally being part of all their lives. There is mutual love and support with all my girls. I also look forward to the three potential daughters and one son I will be adding some day when my three single sons and daughter get married. Those are expected bonuses. I expected my kids would get married and I would add bonus children and grandchildren to my family. I mean don’t we all?

What I wasn’t anticipating was the sweet unexpected bonus relationships that have blessed my life in the last couple years from extended family. Let me explain! I mentioned coming from a large family of seven children. So I have a lot of nieces and nephews and I adore them all. Coming from such a large family, and having such a large family myself, it is difficult to maintain close and special relationships with everyone. Relationships are important to me and so is family, so I have tried to do some special things for my nieces and nephews over the years, like be there for the big things. Such as with birthdays, graduations, attending softball games, trying to get to all the weddings or sending a nice gift for the big occasions, I have tried to show them how special they are to me in whatever ways I can. Some, I have been closer to than others and many times that had to do with geography, which for me has changed from California to Texas and now back to California. I love to keep up with them all through Facebook. The absolute best thing about social media is how easy it is to stay connected to the people you care about and be able to actively participate in their lives even when you live far apart. Whatever those relationships have been, I love them all so much and they are all often in my thoughts and prayers.

Here is where the unexpected bonuses came in. I never dreamed that in my large extended family that as my nieces and nephews got married that I would gain what I have through them. Again, geography and Facebook has taken a role in the shaping of these wonderful relationships.

I have one nephew who just recently got married and two nephews who are engaged to get married to three of the sweetest and most remarkable young women. These women have become very special friends to me in unexpected ways in my life! They have embraced me as an “added aunt,” but as for me they are so much more than “added nieces.” I love them and treasure them more than they could know. They have each shown me so much love, support and encouragement and those relationships have become very special to me.

I always dreamed about the special blessings I would add to my family as my sons and daughters married and as my grandchildren came along, and that has happened. They are all blessings to me and they are deeply loved, valued and cherished. Each of them mean the world to me. I can’t wait to add more!!! But I never imagined the unexpected bonus relationships that I would get as my nephews got married. These women have added so much joy to my life in such unexpected and surprising ways. Oh how I love them!

So life isn’t always like a Hallmark movie. We can’t always predict the endings of the story and really what fun would that be anyways? Maybe those small town dreamy worlds with Christmas trees and lights and garland and snow everywhere aren’t very realistic. What I do know is real is the relationships we gain and the people who get added into our lives along the way, they are far from predictable but they are what really counts!

There is hope beyond this!

Glory glory glory to God the Father of all good gifts from above!!!

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