This is what I thought my family would look like. I got married. I had a girl, I had a boy. And voila, this was supposed to be us . . . We would live in a house with a picket fence, visit family on the holidays and be completely content with one another and our children. He would take care of the yard, take out the trash and I would take care of the house and the children.
We would take family vacations, snuggle at night and talk about our days and spend weekends doing family activities. Isn’t this what you pictured when you started out? Isn’t this just an extension of “every little girl’s dream?” Ok, I never played wedding or really dress up, so maybe I’m not like every girl, but I have a strong suspicion that these dreams are not that far off from most people’s or at least most women’s when they were younger.
But now reality has set in and it’s nothing like a I pictured. In fact, very little if any of those “dreams” listed above even became a part of my reality.
Instead our family looks like this . . .
There’s way more kids than I ever planned. There’s kids with no attachments, whole other families completely integrated with ours and then those just on the outskirts. Can you relate to this?
On our way home from VBS today, my son and I had an interesting conversation that got me thinking along this line. Cade asked “Who lives with J?” Umm, Mr. J, Mrs. M, R and M, of course. “No, Mom, at his other home. Does Mr. J or Mrs. M live with him there?” You see, J lives in Spain with his mom, but he comes here and stays with his dad in the summers. His dad has remarried and has two step children. A true example of a blended family. Boy, that’s hard to explain to a 6 year old. I mean, we are certainly not a traditional family any more since their dad and I split, but so far, there are no step parents, half siblings or step siblings.
My brother’s son also causes them confusion as my brother and his “baby” momma for lack of a better term never married, and had him. Now his mom is remarried and therefore my kids are convinced that my brother is no longer his dad, the mom’s new husband is his dad. But he, calls the new husband his best friend . . . OMG, this just confuses them more. (And even me a little.) Now there’s a new baby in the family and they want to know if she is their cousin too. How do I even begin to explain this?!?
New Way of Viewing Family
I have decided to stop trying and choose a new way of thinking of family (and it’s been a long time coming,) and here it is:
I was never the one with lots of friends growing up. We moved every couple of years and I had/have a really hard time attaching to people, and am often told I am cold because of how easy it is for me to walk away sometimes. But things have changed for me now. I am one of 4 siblings who are not all that close. My extended family lives states away. And my parents are busy with their own lives. My ex lives one town over, but well, you know how that goes. So it’s me and the kids, and that seemed to be okay for a while. Okay and even really good for a while, I might say.
But things have changed. And changed intentionally for the most part, no one has forced this change but us. Here’s how our family has grown and finally has started to feel complete and whole and healthy even though it is not traditional at all and there is really no way to explain to anyone (although I am obviously trying here:)
- We went through the training, background checks and home visits to become a foster family. We have since met and established relationships with several foster kids locally. My kids call them their pretend brothers and sisters . . . and I love that. Hope to eventually have a couple that will stay long term. So our kid count has grown.
- I have met and bonded with a core group of women, mostly all married, mothers and non-mothers. Professionals and SAHMs. And because of this bond we now have constant play dates, dinner invites and even adult time when it’s just us girls hanging out and being girls . . . ok, maybe we still only talk kids, men and work, but it’s still a lot of fun! So we’ve completely integrated 4 other families with our own and really feel like they are our family.
- We moved into this wonderful neighborhood where I feel confident and safe in letting the kids have some freedoms outside and roam around with the other 1,000,000 kids who live on our street (ok, maybe a little exaggeration there.) Now these people are mostly on the outskirts of our family . . . but more often than not, one or two or a dozen are hanging around, eating a snack or just goofing of with us.
- Our latest addition has been to apply to host a FAF child for the summer and hope to get two next year and every year afterwards. My hope is that this child(ren) will become more “pretend” brothers and sisters to the kids and they will grow up with a close bond despite the distance most of the year.
So what does your family look like? Does it look like the old fashioned family trees with the generic parents, children and extended family? Or does it look more like ours where the family tree limbs twist in all sorts of directions, hold hands with other trees and just make your life complete like perhaps you never thought it would be??
I LOVE MY CHOSEN FAMILY and am SO HAPPY to have them in my life!