November 12th, 2008

One of the reasons I’m glad we’re living in Switzerland right now – and on any given day there are many reasons I’m glad to be living in Switzerland – is that I have family here to lean on. My husband’s family lives on their family farm fifteen minutes outside the city. (And yes, the fact that there are family farms fifteen minutes outside the capital city of the country is one of those many reasons I enjoy the Swiss life.) This is the farm my husband grew up on, the farm his brother has taken over, the farm my older son loves. He spends one day a week with his grandparents and uncle on the farm and it often turns into a sleep-over. During a regular week, the fact that I can count on grandparental childcare is a relief; during these times R is away doing this degree program he’s doing it’s a life-saver. During the thirteen night-times R will be gone we’ve got four sleep-overs at The Farm planned. Tomorrow when the big one goes to Spielgruppe (sort of like pre-kindergarten) R’s mom will come and look after the little one and I’ll have THREE! WHOLE! HOURS! during which I do not have to worry about small children. When we go to hockey on Saturday, R’s mom will stay at the apartment taking care of the Boychen. We’ve got a weekend lunch at The Farm planned after which grandparents and grandchildren will go for a walk in the woods and I will retire to the guest room to catch a nap. So I’m grumbling a lot about these two weeks in London, but in truth I’ve got a lot of help.

If we were living in the US I imagine we’d be somewhere along the East Coast, far from what remaining family I have. And even if we were to live near my brother and sister-in-law, they have young children of their own, they’re not like my retired (mostly – farmers never quite retire, it seems, even when somebody else takes over the farm) in-laws who have time to take Small Boy for the day. We’d spend time together, but they would not serve as child-care. Even if my parents were alive I wouldn’t trust my mother alone with my children. I’d barely even want them to spend time with her under my supervision. In terms of having a support system to rely on, I’ve got a better one here in Switzerland – in this foreign land – that I would have in the land of my birth.

And my sons have a good life here. They have grandparents here, and they’re growing up having a real relationship with them. When I see them together I see what a gift my boys are getting having grandparents in their lives, these very grandparents who are so good to them and who love them so. When I first moved to Switzerland R and I had a plan about when we would move back to DC. But now? It would take a lot to get me to leave here now. I can’t think what would be worth taking these boys away from their grandparents, and these grandparents away from their grandchildren.

I can’t think what offer would be good enough to break up this family.