It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. ~ Johann Schiller
Family: A social unit where the father is concerned with parking space, the children with outer space, and the mother with closet space. ~Evan Esar
Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. ~Jane Howard
Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. ~ George Burns
I often find myself thinking about family – what family is, what family means. It is not an easy topic to tackle, as all of us bring our personal family experiences, laden with a myriad of emotions. I found that, for me, family is part of my history and identity. It means a lot to me.
When I was younger I fantasized about having many children – I believe this was part of my longing for a strong sense of belonging, a feeling that I was part of something much greater than myself. Being part of a large, loving family would be something much larger than myself. Growing up family was not always easy and being part of a family unit was not always easy. I am sure many share similar realities.
When I was in university I first understood that family can be redefined. For the first time in my life I felt I had a very strong, supportive family – though none of them were biologically related to me in any way. My friends, my community, became my family. This family meant so much to me and touched my heart deeply because they were a family I chose and they also chose me. They did not have to love and support me, but we were part of a community and we bonded in meaningful ways and were there for each other. I am still close to so many of my friends (family) from my university days and their presence in my life was and remains a precious gift.
When I was in my late 20’s I moved overseas… suddenly I was in a place where I had no biological relatives (not even remote ones) near me. This was scary. In fact, this reality propelled me to start genealogy research. My goal – to find one living relative living in the same country I reside in… this turned out to be a much more challenging task than I had anticipated (though it did eventually occur).
Of course, the genealogy research, which has led me to contact with many distant cousins I never knew I had, has brought me back to that definition of family – is blood the tie that binds us, or friendship? I would like to believe that, in an ideal world, it would be both. That we would enjoy our blood relatives as much as we do any of our friends and that our blood relatives would be people we want to spend time with – what a gift that is!
Our current nuclear family consists of myself, my partner and our two (adopted) children. We have lots of love and a lot of fun – none of us are biologically related, but it is clear that our connections are deep and real and that our family unit is strong and blessed.
Today, 198 days ’til 40, I am happy for my family – in all definitions and forms.