It’s 9/11 and I need to be grateful that I’m alive and the ones closet to me are alive. As we all know it only takes a second. So first and foremost thank you to all those that served and continue to serve and to their families who support them everyday.
What is a family? This is an important question to me both professionally and personally, and I’ve spent the past year really reflecting on this. I grew up with two parents..one step father ( my bio father died when I was 8) and a mom. I had three sets of grandparents, both grandfathers step parents to my parents ( bio father out of the picture) and two great grandparents. My mom grew up in her grandmothers house as did all of the cousins so naturally as a child that’s where I ended up too. My parents both had siblings who they were close with so were we. My sister and I spent entire summers living with our grandmother when we were young and our father was sick. My sister and I although very different in many ways, are able to agree to disagree and still be there for one another in a moments notice..no matter what’s been said. That is a family to me.
My husband grew up with two parents , whose parents(his grandparents) either died before he was born , or were absent. He had one aunt and one uncle that were part of his life growing up but then through illness, both disappeared. He and his sister grew up in the same house – but had separate activities. This was family to him.
After dealing with infertility we adopted, and have 4 children. These children all have birth families and have different relationships with all of them, in addition to our families. This is family to us.
I’m 50 this year (almost 51) and spent some time in therapy for personal growth . I was talking about a 30 yr relationship that I had with someone that had recently fallen apart. I was full of grief, wanting so badly for this person to accept me. This person has since admitted that they don’t want a relationship with me, and I don’t think they ever did. I spent a lot of years trying to get love and recognition from this person, when it really was never going to happen. When the therapist asked me why it was so important for me to repair what I thought was a relationship – …I simply said because we are family – that’s what families are supposed to do..she asked me again – why, what is your perception of family? The only answer I could provide was the model of what I grew up with. As you can see my early family was different of what my husbands family was. I am a person working with families and yet I still had a hard time stepping back to look at what was really going on.
I share this to show how different we all perceive and think family to be. I think I’ve learned we all come to the arena with our history. What I’ve learned is that we have to be open to not just our own idea of what family is but others too. Bonds are created in all different ways, some will last forever and some just exist. Family has nothing to do with blood, or marriage, or birth or adoption. Family is what we make it, everyday when we wake up and decide to be part of someones life. Family CAN be blood, it CAN be marriage, it CAN be birth, it CAN be friendship, or it CAN be adoption. Family is the people in our lives who we give worth too, and unconditional love, and a commitment to respect.