Yesterday, my parents arrived home from an 18 month mission for our Church in Switzerland. They flew through Salt Lake, then came for dinner at our house, spent the night at my sister's and visited my brother's family this morning before leaving for their home in Idaho. It was so nice to have them home again. When they left, Eliza was just 6 months and the twins were still 2.
We had a small miracle right off. Within three minutes of their arrival, Grandma was holding my sweet, timid Eliza. Eliza seemed to know right off that Grandma and Grandpa were people who loved her. She gave them both hugs and loved the attention.
Harmony was alert and calm, and though "calm" is not a word that describes the rest of my kids, we had a great visit. Grandpa took a walk to the Beaver Pond with Joseph and talked fishing with him. Grandma sat on the couch, looked at our family scrapbooks with the kids, and talked to them about their interests. Allison and Sarah kept sneaking outside and picking flowers from the rose bushes. They know it's against the rules, but I think they also knew we weren't about to discipline them.
I really admire my parents for serving. It was a financial sacrifice, for sure (missionaries in our Church pay their own way, and Zurich is not a cheap place to live!), but more than that, I know it was hard on my mom to leave her grandkids for a year and a half. Back in January, when I emailed her the news that I was expecting, I got a funny email back that essentially said, "Well, I guess we're excited for you, but we didn't expect a baby to be born while we were away!" This last August, as Harmony so graciously joined our family, it was bittersweet to have my mother absent. Five times in the past, she's been there, clearing her schedule for a month in advance of my due date just in case, then arriving as soon as we need her and staying for a week. This time, my mother-in-law came for a few days and was great, but much as I love her, she's still not my mom, you know?
When I was in the hospital, awake from feeding Harmony at 2 a.m. and full of adrenaline from the birth, it was fun to think, "Hey, it's 10 a.m. in Switzerland." I called my mom and talked for quite a while. And with the beauty of email, blogs, videos, and more, I think my parents were able to still connect with my children's lives.
I'm thankful for the example my parents set for my kids and the good they did on their mission. We believe that families are forever, so these times when we are away from each other are a small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.