A Theory of Relativity
The Science of Family
In the next issue we’re going to explore…SCIENCE (cue: mad maniacal laughter).
Maniacal laughter? More like widespread panic. What on earth? I. AM. TOTALLY. HOPELESS. AT. SCIENCE!
In school, I failed Biology miserably, couldn’t even manage the ‘try’ in Chemistry. And Physics? Please, I might as well have been studying Fizzicks.
So what to do? After much keyboard tapping, pondering, head scratching and pencil chewing, I was distracted by an exciting trip overseas. I was about to embark on nine days of family celebrations all by myself. No husband, no children, for the first time in four years.
My older sister was getting married and we would be celebrating both in London, and Latvia, where we would meet the new ‘in-laws’. The wedding was a precious moment, small and intimate, with the bride, simply stunning. However it was our trip to Eastern Europe that will remain a deeply humbling experience. With no common language to share stories, thoughts or feelings, the two families sat down to the ultimate social experiment. We could only connect through smiles, tears and lots of hand gestures, but the underlying message remained clear; a message of hope for the newlyweds, joy for their happiness and love for them both.
For all the excitement of reuniting and celebrating with my parents, two dear sisters and lovely new brother in law, not having my own precious family to share the moment with divided me in two. And that got me thinking. Sitting in my tiny seat on that very big plane for a whopping 23 hours, I decided to do something I hadn’t the luxury of doing for a while. Think. And so I did. And it came to me. Family.
Old and new. Immediate and Extended. Related by a labyrinth of genetics and ancestral patterns, family is what makes us, sometimes breaks us, but ultimately creates society, carrying us all from one generation to the next.
The apple had dropped, my Eureka moment! I had found my science, the science of family, a social science of gigantic earthly importance. So significant and unique that one could nearly say it can take its seat beside the Divine. Science and Religion, together?! Absolutely. Isn’t it where biology holds hands with a miracle? And after giving birth to two big, beautiful boys, I can certainly vouch for that.
So with this in mind, I realised that it is ten years since I altered my family’s makeup and created great physical distance by emigrating to Australia. From a tiny corner of a quiet suburb in Dublin, our family now spans three countries, four nationalities and a combined geographical distance of 17, 210k kilometres. Hey, you could just about call us the mini United Nations!
Little did I realise the impact though that I would have on the social structure of our particular family unit. Now with my very own to nurture and nourish it has made me understand and realise the force of that decision on the future of those five, now nine people. So knowing that boys will never call their mothers and only come home to do their laundry I think I need to start my ‘please stay in the same country’ campaign now, in the hope that they will never do what I did to my poor parents all those years ago.
So with nine days away from my busy daily life, I think I managed to consider quite a lot. And after ten incredible years of adapting, coding, hypothesising, micro analysing and theorising the universe and all its measures, I now know that where I came from, my origins and the roots in which I am firmly fixed will forever call me. And so will be the case for our children, and our children’s children. But if we, as parents, do our job right, those roots will spread thick and fast, hold them steady and allow them to flourish. And when it’s time for us to say goodbye, they will become their own scientists, discovering, and unfurling the mysteries of life all for themselves.