The first few days of living in Ireland are a bit of a blur. I remember mostly a lot of tea, quite a lot of tea. It was exciting, scary, daunting, and fabulous. Did I mention the amount of tea that was drunk those first days?
My days were spent mainly going from home to home meeting all of my husband’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and of course having a cuppa at Granny’s, Mum’s, or Dad’s home. There were so many faces and names to learn and, frankly, I was exhausted despite my gratitude for the opening smiles and hugs.
I loved being with my in laws (and not just for the massive amount of tea being poured) but it was a definite shift in our relationships. We went from a friendly and party manners family who were to be honest a peripheral part of each other’s lives to now being full time in your face family (or rather FAMILY in all caps). Things just got real!
When a break from all of the reality was possible, we spent our time exploring the rugged landscape and beaches of Donegal. We wanted the kids to see what a glorious playground they had at their doorstep. They were duly impressed. Honestly, what a child wouldn’t love unspoiled beaches, sand dunes, and freedom?? I may be a *ahem* grown up, but feel the thrill of freedom when I am here. There are a handful of places in this world that I feel completely at peace; I am now blessed to live within walking distance from one of those locales. At the white strand the power of the wind and waves makes me feel small and yet content and whole at the same time. When I felt (feel) uncertain of my place in this country or how I am fitting into my family all I had to do was just stand, let the wind whip through my hair, and just breathe. I knew that everything would be ok, actually more than ok things were going to be fantastic.
As I intimated already, there were growing pains those first days (at least on my part) whilst I learned what these relationships truly were going to be. Imagine my moving to a land where I knew no one excepting my nuclear family and my in laws. Up until this point we only knew each other on a holiday basis. There was an automatic intimacy expected but we truly didn’t know each others’ every day personality and quirks. Thankfully, my in laws were willing to work to get to know me too. Relationships can not be one sided and I am as lucky that they wanted something real with all of us as well. Over the months and a gazillion cups of tea (and several walks on the beach!!) sense of humours and personalities were figured out and appreciated.
Growing pains are what make a relationship real and I would not trade in the initial awkwardness if that meant that I wouldn’t have truer friendships with my Irish family. After all, no one ever said that anything worth while was easy to obtain.