Happy Days – visiting the patchwork family

Photo062The main advantage of lacking a relationship with your parents is the freedom that comes with it. When you receive nothing, nothing can be taken from you. And as soon as you break the vicious circle of copying the patterns that formed the dysfunctional relationship you used to have with your genitors (in my case that meant reaching for the non-available), you have all the freedom in the world to build your own family, patch it together with friends, siblings, grandparents and finally the love of your life and your own offspring.

Through the years, I accumulated an array of much loved people I know I can fall back on should hell break loose. The only problem with these folks is the distance I have to travel to see them all. During the past week, we clocked up another 1,500 miles on mostly German roads to exchange hugs, kisses, have a glass of wine and another hug before hitting the road again.


First stop Wesel at the river Rhine to see my grandma, who is 94 today and much more alert than most of the people half her age. I hate this town and all the memories that come with it. I hated it when my parents moved the family there, and I still hate it with passion. Sorry, Wesel. As sad as it was to say goodbye to granny – I was relieved to get back into the car and drive down to Munich.

Photo068Ah, Munich. Home of the Pretzel and the Bratwurst. Where the beer flows faster and the clocks tick slower. The beauty of this town: nothing ever changes. It can drive you mad when you live there, but coming back to Munich will always feel like coming home to me. Seeing the girls was just brilliant. As if I’d never moved away. I would give the world to have them closer to me.

After about 1,000 miles alone with little L in the car, I was more than happy when Big M arrived in Munich to join us on our return trip. They say absence make the heart grow fonder. I am not a huge fan of the saying, but this time there was some truth to it. I missed him so much, especially when I had to leave granny behind in the disliked town. Not being able to look for comfort in Big M’s arms made me physically sick.

DSC01370-1On our way back, we stopped in Frankfurt and crashed at my brother’s new place. He just moved in with his gorgeous girlfriend. Seeing my brother so content and happy makes me happy in return. We took different turns in our lives, but we seem to be on the same road again.

My self-made family may be a bit patchy here and there. But it feels beautifully complete.


  1. I love the idea of a ‘patchwork family’, which can apply to the life of an expat too. Thank you.

  2. I can totally empathise with that. Parents can carry on being manipulative to their children even when they are adults, and expect far too much sometimes. I would say they can put a lot of pressure on their children. How lovely it would be sometimes not to have that worry/guilt. I already imagine how I will be as a grandmother(in 20 years time) Oh dear, a garbled comment, I understand what I mean I’m not sure you will….but the thought was there.
    Sounds exhausting.

  3. What an exhausting trip.

    I remember some excellent times in Munich… I find it a very mysterious city. Can’t quite work it out.

  4. Interesting post. ‘Patchwork Family’ is a great name for what you describe! My family is full of steps, adopted, ‘partners’ etc and nothing is conventional about it and then I moved to the UK where I have what I call my ‘surrogate’ family–all the close friends Ive made who are even closer to me than many of my family members. It’s lovely being able to choose your own family!

  5. Gosh, I can’t imagine my life detached from my parents, I guess we were lucky.
    I must say, you were very brave going back to a place of no nice memories (apart from oma). Seems that you’re doing well, congratulations.
    I love Munich too, beautiful place.

  6. @Iota: More than welcome!

    @A Modern Mother: I know. They even managed to push their way into Switzerland. Amazing.

    @Chic Mama: Haha. Thank you for your comment, but I am not sure I can follow completely. And yes, I am completely knackered now.

    @BiB: Big M did most of the driving on our way back. I was sitting on the rear seat, entertaining the baby. Incy wincy spider a thousand times…

    @Mwa: That’s the beer. Makes even the dullest of places appear mysterious 😉

    @Michelloui: The beauty of being grown-up is to be able to make your own choices, I think.

    @Mrs Fab: *blushing* thanks!

    @Ju: Thanks, Ju. The visit to Munich was definitely healing.

  7. What a trip! I think the Denglish term patchwork family is just fab, it should really be adopted by English.
    Never been to Munich though got friends there, and everyone keeps telling me what a great place it is.
    Great you enjoyed the Bobo Siebenschlaefer song! I’m humming it right now.
    Another award over at mine.

  8. I loved this post. Seriously, I feel the same way about my family. I’m sure they did their best, but then they just gave up, weren’t ready to have kids, to move to a different country, et al. I try not to blame them anymore, but I try hard not to be like either of them to my daughter.

  9. @MT: Thanks hun! I am chuffed 🙂

    @Cartside: It’s great for kids with all the lakes and countryside surrounding it. And it’s so safe, almost like living in a village. Thanks for the award! (Bobo, shalalalalalaaa)

    @Margarita: Here’s a big hug back to you!

  10. well lady, you are unbelieavable! – you travelled 1000 miles in a car, with a baby, alone?!! lovely you had such a fab time though, and a lovely post. you do stun me though – you are super woman!

    I love munich.

  11. Lovely post, I feel a bit like that too…family and friends everywhere…the picture of your baby is gorgeous!! But the test of true friendship is just that falling back into the comfortable ways despite the miles that separate you. I think that means alot 🙂

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