Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We are family.

I was on the phone with my mother not too long ago. Catching up with Mom when one lives in another country usually means a very long conversation full of random facts, maybe even some gossip. As the topics of our talk switched from one to the next without any link, she mentioned that she had gone to meet my ex-boyfriend’s (and dear friend) newborn daughter. “What a precious little girl, and his wife is such a wonderful mother, what a beautiful family they are!” –she said-.
As I heard her pronounce those words, and felt the joy and sincerity in her voice, a very important fact dawned on me: We are not considered a family until we have children.

 I started thinking: Are those of us who are not sure if we will ever have children, or those who don’t have any, and never will, any less of a family than the one with the baby, the little house and the car?
 Unfortunately, according to our society, we are. Obviously the extreme amounts of time, energy, emotions, decision making, not to mention money that are involved in raising a child (or more) are factors that bond a couple (married or not, divorced or separated) in indescribable ways. The joy that a room full of their son or daughter’s laughter brings to a parent’s heart is comparable to no other gift in the world, and the connection between brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons and all the other possible combinations, priceless.
So to some extent, it is understandable that people don’t consider a childless married couple, or two people insanely in love who are sharing their lives as a family. However, to those of us who belong to one of those categories, things aren’t that black and white.
  I never thought I would get married. Not because I don’t believe in marriage, but because I am too much of a romantic and I don’t believe in divorce. From my experience in matters of the heart, which for my very young age is not too bad, I figured that there wasn’t another person out there whom I would truly feel and most importantly, believe that I could love in that way for my entire life, and share all of it with him/her.
In true romantic fashion I will say, at the risk of sounding extremely cliché, that once my husband and I really looked at each other, we just knew.
  Everyday that has gone by since then has only reassured us that choosing to share our lives was the best decision we have ever made.
We look forward to spending time together, his smile is to me the most fantastic sight of nature, and my happiness is in his own words “The most important thing in the world” to him.
We share laughter, we share sadness, we take care of each other, we worry about the other, learn from one another: We are a team. He helps me slow down, I help him speed up, and coming home to one another is always the high of our day. And the truth is that we both spend a whole lot of time, energy, emotions, decision making, and also money on this relationship, every day of our lives.
 So who is to say that the two of us are not as much of a family as my ex-boyfriend, and his beautiful baby and wife?
Our society dictates rules and defines relationships in ways that sometimes go unrevised for too long. Nobody remembers them on a daily basis, and they aren’t written anywhere, but they remain in the back of most human’s minds, creating automated responses and reactions to some important questions and situations.
When it comes to family, I believe that some of those definitions are not as much outdated as they are simply incorrect.  As an immigrant to the US, my parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents have been in another country for over nine years now. Some of the friendships that I have made here (as well as some of the ones I made during childhood ) are as special and strong as are all of those loved ones who are biologically bound to me by blood. Therefore, they are my family.
  In my eyes and in my heart, the concept of a family is a group of people who love and support one another timelessly and unconditionally.
 I share a home with my husband and our Garfield-like cat, my brother shares his with his wife and their two restless dogs. My brother in law and his wife are childless too, with two new kitties and a loving adult dog.
I can assure you that we all have a beautiful family.  Not even a drop less perfect than the one with crying baby next door.

1 comment:

HC said...

mi dear Annie,

When my aunts and uncles were visiting us from Honduras for "cookie's"baptism, we discussed family.

The term arose from the fact that my grandfather has always worried about my cousins here in the DR, and ever since I moved here he has been incessant on my responsibility of being there for them, since they were family. So, needless to say, I took that to heart.

I've called, visited, and even emailed them several times, and we have seen each other several times. However, whenever I stop making an effort, they fell out of touch, never making the effort of keeping in touch.

Now with that in mind, I asked of my aunt and uncle, though we are blood related, are we family?

I think blood doesn't make family, and furthermore children don't either. Blood bonds families, as do experiences, love, sharing, caring, and all those experiences that create that special bond.

When I met you in an instant you were family. Same thing happened with Jason, tio Jose, tia annita, Raul, Lourdes, Alejandro, Chao, Hans, tia paquita, and so many people that have little or no relation to me but a conection and a bond that has been built on.

There are others that have had that connection, but have disapeared through the years from my life, and though I hold them dear to my heart, they are not part of my family.

So in the end, family isn't made from blood, marriage, children. Bonds that are cared for and grow make family.

Trust me, you guys have a beautiful family. I know because I am a part of it.

Lov U