In the summer of 2020, my wife and I decided to move home from Manhattan to Atlantic Canada. It was hard to leave after six years in New York, and I still miss it. As I wrote at the time, a huge reason we wanted to move home was to be closer to our families. We had been struggling on our own in New York, and we wanted to be able to lean on our families for support (and, in turn, be leaned on when we could help).
Growing up, my sister and I had a somewhat antagonistic relationship. We didn’t really get along, and once we got to high school we basically stopped associating with each other. We grew apart as adults but as I started spending more time visiting New Brunswick, we started reconnecting. Since moving home, I’ve had a chance to spend more time with her. I think we’ve both been surprised at how much we have in common.
I’m not going to get into specifics, but this spring presented my wife and I with an opportunity to help my sister. We took full advantage of it. My sister has been spending her summer here with us, and her kids have been here every other week.
We weren’t really prepared for having kids spend so much time in our home. Her children (both less than five years old) specifically, and children in general, are chaos agents. My wife and I basically went from having almost no contact with children at all to having half of our time centre around them.
When we first suggested having the kids visit at all, my sister warned us: “they’re going to touch all your stuff.” She was right! We had to learn how to say no to kids, to put up boundaries, and to enforce those boundaries. These are totally new skills to us.
I love my niblings and I’m so so grateful for the opportunity to spend so much time with them this summer. When we moved home, my wife and I both wanted to have a bigger role in the kids’ lives. We got our wish! I’ll never forget this summer. We got to share parts of Fredericton that we love with the kids and my sister.
Activities like playing with them in the backyard and eating dinner with them went from novel to ordinary to routine.
It felt amazing!
It also felt exhausting.
Kids are incredibly draining. The whiplash from being child-free to being a caretaker every other week has been jarring for us. Our home is already my workplace, and having to be productive while the kids are playing outside or home sick is a unique challenge. Children will take whatever energy you offer them and ask for more, and we’re out of energy to offer.
As the summer draws to a close, my wife and I are both looking forward to having our house back to our own. We have one more week with the kids and we plan to make the most of it. Following that week, I’ve taken a small staycation to recover and deep-clean our home.
As I said, I’ll never forget this summer. I’ve grown so close to the kids and I’m so glad that I get to be a part of their lives. As much of a strain it has been to have the kids here, it’s been incredibly rewarding. I would do it again in a heartbeat.