They say when Mama’s not happy, nobody is happy. By the time you read this, Spouse and I will have retrieved Second Born from the airport and The Love Couple will be in Maine for the weekend for some much needed family time. This can only mean one thing.

This Mama is happy.

It has been a long four months pretending to be fine, as in, “I’m fine, please stop asking, which only serves to remind me that my youngest child is overseas for the next four months.” I survived, thanks in part to our excellent adventure in Budapest to see her in November. Add to that the excitement of being with The Love Couple and assorted family members for the India leg of our trip, and I am willing to admit it did tide me over temporarily.

We visited the New Jersey relatives for New Year’s, and First Born and The Groom joined us, making it even more special. We also had time to hang with the Connecticut side of the family on our way back and had a great time. The whole weekend was a distraction from the final countdown to Second Born’s pending return home, even as I was offering the number of days left to anyone who would listen… or to anyone who stood in one place for too long. You can understand how a part of me was all but reaching through the computer screen when we visited with the happy wanderer online New Year’s Eve. The closer her return, the more antsy I became. As I pen this piece, I am just about 12 hours from seeing my youngest and only a few days away from having both girls here.

Distance was not something I learned about growing up, but our kids have certainly broken us in to the idea of it. My strict Italian parents were devastated when Spouse and I moved a half-hour away in the beginning of our marriage. In those days, living two towns away meant making long distance calls. Hardly any call is long distance now with the rampant use of cell phones and live online screen time.

Today, our offspring could roost anywhere, and we can’t complain that we aren’t able to be in contact with them. You can reach out and touch almost anyone anywhere with modern technology.

None of that really matters at this very moment, because I’m in my happy place. My girls are home, we are having a belated Christmas celebration, and there are still Christmas lights and inflatable penguins in our front yard. Life is good.

Technically, we are not officially “doing” Christmas this year, since we will be recouping from The Weddings of 2015 as well as the trip of a lifetime for quite a while. This weekend is about the family time, plain and simple.

A long time ago, Spouse and I came to the same conclusion – that we would seriously consider moving to be closer to one of our daughters once they settle down, especially if grandkids are involved. The thing is that neither of them is even close to the settling down stage and cats are our only grandkids for the time being, so we continue to include long drives (and possibly flights) in our plans for that valuable family time.

Our visits have definitely led to off-theroad escapades, literally. Cars have revolted, weather has interceded and what should have been approximately an eighthour trip has turned into more than a dozen hours. But I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe I’d change to a newer car, but let’s not mention that in front of the 2007 Ford Fusion sitting in the driveway.

In the meantime, the kids are coming home, stuffed shells will be in the oven, teasing will commence and all will be right with the world. It will be a short visit, but it’s about quality, not necessarily quantity these days.

It doesn’t take much more than that to make this Mama happy.

— Reach Janine Talbot at [email protected]

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