I have always said that I love the individual members of my family but hate them as a collective. We are a fractured family at best, with my dad having been married three times. Growing up, I always hated the question “how many brothers and sisters do you have?”. Up until about 5 years ago, the answer was a half-brother, a half-sister, a sister, and 2 step-sisters. Now, the answer is a half-brother, a half-sister, a brother, and two step-sisters. But alas, that is a story for another post.
The dysfunctionality of my family is obvious. My parents divorced when I was in high school. I was the only child left at home since I am the youngest, so I got to see it played out in all it’s glory. It was about as teenage-dramatic as you can get, right down to the screaming matches with my mother, who was doing her best to cope, and the crashing down of “daddy’s pedestal,” where he had been carefully placed by a wide-eyed, naive little girl years before.
My parents divorce was particularly unique since they had been working together in a shared medical practice for about 20 years, and chose to continue doing so even after separating. Enter functionality…
They were married for over 20 years, and have two kids together, so my parents couldn’t help but continue to communicate with each other. Even though they are no longer married, whenever us kids are involved, they often function as a unit. And they are at quite a few family affairs together, sometimes along with my dad’s first wife and his current wife.
The lines of communication in my family are insane. You can’t really tell anyone anything unless you want the entire family to know. But even in spite of that, the members of my family are each amazing in their own individual capacity. My mother is the epitome of comfort and love. She is my best friend and my most trusted confidant. My father oozes generosity and intellectual challenge. I can always look to him to make me think about things in a way I hadn’t thought to. I can trust my brother with just about anything (he’s the one exception to the “family talk” type of scenario.), including my heart. He is an incredible father, with the patience of a saint that I admire to no end. My sister is the incarnation of support and fierce protection of family, with three girls of her own. As a new mother, I cannot stress the value of this enough. My other brother is a family man to the core, who would do just about anything to protect his kids and has a quiet way about him that just seems to resonate with children. I could go on and on about extended relatives and what they each bring to our family, and to my life with my nuclear family.
My husband and son, who are now my family but in a different way, are my heart. They are the joy in my life. My husband would do absolutely anything to protect or defend me and our son. I have no doubt about that. And my son, well, there’s this. But they are my “new” family. They don’t really know the secret world that I grew up in or the way my “old” family evolved into what it is today, and I can’t expect them to. Perhaps it’s better that they don’t, in fact. But that world shaped me into the person I am today. And each individual member of my family, both new and old, has played a part in that.
Even with all its trials and tribulations, with all its shortcomings and failures, my family is one of my most valued assets. I look to them to remind me who I am and why I am the way that I am, and to remind me that sometimes my past influences my present and future in ways that I shouldn’t allow it to. They understand who I am in a way that people who entered my life later on never can. And I will continue to look to them for love and support as my husband and I raise our son as a member of our little family, for my husband and I will hold the secrets to our son’s life in a way that no one else will ever be able to. And the cycle will continue….